Thursday 22 March 2018

€4m for woman knocked down crossing the road

Tim Healy

A YOUNG woman left severely brain-damaged after being knocked down by a car is to receive €4m to settle her High Court action.

Jennifer Courtney (24) had sued the driver over injuries she suffered after being struck while crossing a road in Coolock, Dublin, in 2007.

Her father, Hugh Courtney (pictured), was clearly upset as the court approved the settlement today. He told the court: "I'm just glad it's over."

He hoped the settlement would mean his daughter's journey "might get a bit easier" but added: "It's never going to be easy."

Two weeks ago, approval of the €4m settlement was deferred after a judge complained again about delays in bringing laws to provide for life-long payments for such cases.

Yesterday, Ms Justice Mary Irvine said in the absence of such laws, she would approve the €4m lump sum payment for Ms Courtney.

She said the failure, in "a civilised society", to ensure catastrophically injured children receive adequate payments for their life long care was "unconscionable".

It was all the more so, she said, in the context of the current Children's Referendum when one could see posters in Dublin city saying every child has a value. "That's all very well but what is actually being done about that on the ground?" she asked.

She had read medical papers about Ms Courtney's life expectancy and, while it was "really regrettable", the courts remain in a situation where they award lump sums on the basis of a "guess" as to how long a person would live.

She would much prefer a situation where payments could be made annually for the duration of Ms Courtney's life, she added.

The judge ruled the settlement today having received further information on the life expectancy issue.

Through her father, Ms Courtney, from Westpark Estate, Artane, Dublin, had sued Jiao Hong Gang, Dunsaithne Grove, Fleming Lane, Balbriggan, Co Dublin, over the incident at Tonlegee Road, Coolock, on November 17, 2007.

The €4m settlement offer was made on the basis of a 50/50 split in liability.

The court was previously told Ms Courtney was crossing the road when she was struck by a car. It was claimed the driver was driving at speed and one of the vehicle's lights was defective, her counsel Patrick O'Connell SC outlined.

In a reconstruction of the accident and on foot of calculations by experts, it was considered Mr Gang was driving within the speed limit while the Garda report of the accident referred to a "dart out " incident, he said.

Ms Courtney was in a coma for a prolonged period after the accident but is now alert. It is claimed she is unable to work and will require long-term care in a specialist care environment.

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