Saturday 19 January 2019

Computer consultant awarded €38k damages after he was 'jolted forward' in taxi

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)

Ray Managh

A 38-year-old computer consultant, who was jolted forward when a ball joint collapsed in a taxi taking him to work, has been awarded €38,220 damages against the cab owner.

Judge Terence O’Sullivan told Martin Brown that while no-one could say that degenerative changes in his spine had been caused by the accident, the court accepted the opinion they had been rendered symptomatic as a result of a whiplash injury.

Mr Brown, of The View, Robswall, Malahide, Co Dublin, told his barrister Jane Ferry Wednesday that he still suffered some pain and stiffness in his neck and shoulders due to the injury he suffered in the 2013 accident on Dublin’s quays.

He said he had been late for work on 19th August, 2013 and had called the cab. The taxi failed mechanically and, although he had been wearing his seat belt, he had been thrown forward. He walked the rest of the way to his work in Dublin.

Mr Brown said the effects of the incident hit him when he got into his office.  He was quite shaken and a colleague had advised him to seek medical advice. He had gone to his GP but later attended a specialist and the physiotherapy clinic.

Ms Ferry, who appeared with solicitor Rose Sweeney of Coleman Legal Partners, said in the Circuit Civil Court that Mr Brown was suing taximan Paul Freeman of The Close, Orlynn Park, Lusk, Co Dublin, for negligence. The claim was for a maximum of €60,000.

Expert evidence revealed the front left ball joint had suddenly failed and the wheel had been knocked askew at a 45 degree angle.

Anne O’Callaghan, of the Dublin Spine and Sports Physiotherapy Clinic, told the court Mr Brown suffered trauma to his cervical and lumbar area during the incident. He had been totally pain free until the episode and in her opinion the trauma he suffered had caused the degenerative changes to become symptomatic.

Judge O’Sullivan said Ms O’Callaghan had told the court in a report that degenerative discs and joints did not have the capacity to absorb force in the same way as healthy joints and the condition could be rendered active and painful.

Ms O’Callaghan stated in her report that studies of cadavers had shown that severe degenerative changes had not always caused pain in individuals during their lifetime.

The judge said Mr Brown had been treated with a course of medication, physiotherapy and injections but would have an element of difficulty into the future. He awarded him €38,220 damages together with his legal costs.

The defendant Paul Freeman had told the court the taxi had come to a gradual halt after the ball joint failed.

Judge O’Sullivan said he was satisfied, on expert evidence, that the cab driver would earlier have had some noise or bumps warning about the defective ball joint in his vehicle and had been negligent in not having it dealt with by his servicing agents.

The judge granted a stay on his finding pending consideration of an appeal but directed that €20,000 be paid out by the defendant to Mr Brown within 10 days.

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