Friday 20 April 2018

€5.5m for boy (9) with horrific injuries after road accident

Ian Cusack's parents Oorla and John leaving the court

Tim Healy

A NINE-year-old boy who suffered a devastating head injury when he was hit by a car near his home has secured €5.5m in a High Court settlement.

Ian Cusack was five years old when the accident happened at Ballybrown, Clarina, Co Limerick, on September 25, 2008.

His mother Oorla Cusack told the court the settlement meant the family would not be "at the mercy of the HSE" when getting basic equipment and facilities for Ian who requires continuous care.

The court was told that on the day of the accident, Ian, who was in senior infants at the time, was leaving home with his mother to go to go to a dancing class at his school.

His mother returned briefly to the house to change something and Ian, uncharacteristically, crossed the road by himself, with the family dog.

He made it to the far pavement, but then appeared to have bent down, possibly to pet the dog, his counsel, Patrick Hanratty SC, said.

Liability was an issue in the case and it is believed the boy's head may have protruded slightly into the roadway as he bent down when the accident occurred, counsel said.

"Doctors did not think he would survive the accident, but here he is four years later," counsel said.

Through his mother, Ian sued the driver of the car, Niamh Cusack, of Carraig, Clarina, Co Limerick, claiming, among other matters, that she failed to pay attention to what she was doing. The claims were denied.

Ian suffered catastrophic injuries which left him a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, it was claimed. He is completely dependent, cannot speak, and is prone to spasms.

In July 2010, he was admitted to a respite facility, the St Joseph's Foundation in Charleville, Cork, after his parents lobbied government representatives, it was also claimed.

His counsel said it was intended that St Joseph's, which is funded by the HSE and through charitable donations, should to be a long term home for children but funding has been reduced, as have staff numbers, so he can only be cared for there during the week.

His mother Oorla told the court that on the day of the accident, Ian was "taken from" herself and her husband John and their lives had been in turmoil since with one crisis after another.

His 11-year-old sibling Jack, who has autism, lost a brother who had been an anchor in his life, she said. "We were a very happy family and we were just getting on with our lives when this happened."

She was happy with the settlement because it meant the family would not be at "the mercy of the HSE".

"I am not looking for care over and above what he needs.

She also said she believed Ian survived the accident because he is a fighter.

"This is not about money but but basically about giving him what he deserves," she said.

"From our point of view, it is a question of the care he needs and not wondering is the HSE going to cut more services.

"It is never going to be enough, but we can sleep at night, he gets what he needs and there’s no more fighting for wheelchairs and sheets for beds and proper nappies not plastic ones."

Ms Cusack also said she and her husband had had a baby girl, Sophie, in 2009 and she was "a blessing".

Approving the settlement, Ms Justice Mary Irvine repeated a call she made previously for the introduction of a statutory scheme for periodic payments for victims of catastrophic injuries, rather than the current system of a single lump sum.

The current system meant "we are not protecting the welfare of the young and most vulnerable in society", she added.

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News