A WOMAN who suffered catastrophic injuries when a car she was a passenger in crashed, has settled her legal action for damages for €10m.
Aeronautical engineer Lydia Branley (28), of Largydonnell, Kinlough, Co Leitrim, had to be cut from a BMW after driver Martin Kearney lost control while doing 150kmh as he turned off a main road onto a slip road. The car skidded, went over two barriers and ended up in a stream at Drumiskabole outside Sligo town on September 30, 2010.
Ms Branley, who was in the front passenger seat and wearing a seat belt, was in a coma for nine months afterwards and is now in a wheelchair.
Working as an aeronautical engineer, 18 months prior to the accident she had helped guide US President Barack Obama's Air Force One through Irish air space on his first flight to Europe as US president.
She suffered catastrophic injuries in the crash, including brain, spinal and chest injuries, and will have to be looked after for the rest of her life.
Two years ago, Mr Kearney (31), of Faranoo, Ballina, Co Mayo, was sentenced to six years in jail with two years suspended for dangerous driving in relation to the crash.
Ms Branley sued Mr Kearney, as the driver, along with the owner of the car, Michael Kearney, both of of Faranoo, Ballina, Co Mayo.
The case was before the court for assessment of damages only.
Ms Branley's mother, Joanne, said she was disappointed an €868,000 hospital bill for her daughter would have to come out of the €10m settlement.
"I know what it takes to care for Lydia. I was in hospital every day with her. If she has an itchy eye, somebody has to be there to scratch it. I am disappointed the hospital bill is not included, she is already down that much," she said.
Eoin McGonigal SC told the court her legal team was recommending the €10m settlement but the Branley family were reticent and anxious to get everything they could for their daughter.
Martin and Joanne Branley, he said, had looked after their daughter in "a five-star way" and they, along with her brother, had put their lives on hold to help her since the accident.
Ms Justice Mary Irvine said there was an extraordinary risk that if the case went ahead that Ms Branley would end up with a lower sum. She said she was touched by Mrs Branley's concerns but she was left with the hard decision to protect Lydia's future and she believed it was a a very good settlement.
"It does not give back Lydia her life. Nothing will, but it will provide her with the best care and hopefully bring back a degree of normality into your lives," the judge said.