Elderly driver claims medical ailment caused fatal crash
An elderly man has claimed he is not liable for a fatal car accident because a medical ailment caused him to lose control of his vehicle.
In the first case of its type here, William Barr (81) claims if the High Court finds he has a liability in proceedings brought against him on behalf of an injured child, he should be indemnified by his local GP, Dr Anthony Delap of Bunbeg, Co Donegal.
The action against Mr Barr, of Middletown, Gweedore, Co Donegal, has been brought on behalf of Noirin McGarvey (7) of Lower Dore, Bunbeg, Co Donegal, by her father Ronan.
The child suffered severe injuries to her spine which left her in a wheelchair as a result of the accident at Dunlewy, Co Donegal, on May 27, 2008.
Mr Barr's wife, Maggie, died in the accident.
The court heard yesterday that Noirin is a bright child but is conscious of her injuries. While she has movement in her upper limbs, she is paraplegic.
Following the accident, Noirin, her mother and brother were trapped in their car, which caught fire, the court heard. People nearby managed to get the family out of the car.
It is claimed the car driven by Mr Barr crossed on to the wrong side of the road, resulting in a collision with the McGarveys' car. It is also claimed Mr Barr drove in a manner that caused the accident and drove too fast.
Mr Barr denies negligence or liability and claims he experienced a medical ailment immediately prior to the collision, causing him to lose control of his vehicle. Mr Barr was on medication at the time to deal with complaints of high blood pressure, light headedness and episodes of lost consciousness.
Senior counsel for Mr Barr told the court if there was any finding of liability against his client, then Mr Barr was entitled to an indemnity or a contribution from Dr Delap.
This argument was rejected by Dr Delap's legal team.
Richard T Keane, counsel for Noirin, argued that Mr Barr was not entitled to maintain the defence outlined. That defence was submitted in April 2010 -- two years after Mr Barr's insurance company AXA confirmed it was admitting liability.
The case before Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill is expected to run for two weeks.