Saturday 23 March 2019

'My body is destroyed from people driving into me' - accident-prone man's compensation claim dismissed

Gerry McDonagh at Ennis Court
Gerry McDonagh at Ennis Court

Gordon Deegan

An accident-prone Limerick man has told a court “my body is destroyed from people driving into me”.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Gerry McDonagh said: "I don’t go around claiming off people for nothing. If you get hurted, you get hurted."

Mr McDonagh was giving evidence concerning his latest compensation claim for alleged injuries in a road traffic accident in 2012 against a then 19-year-old female driver that was dismissed by Judge Gerald Keys.

Judge Gerald Keys dismissed Mr McDonagh’s claim after finding that the threshold has not been reached that the driver of the other car, Niamh Kitson, was in any way negligent in causing the accident at the entrance to a petrol station on Ennis’s Lahinch Rd on August 10 2012.

The court heard evidence that the August 2012 crash is one of 10 road traffic accidents Mr McDonagh has been involved in - including six since 2012.

In relation to four separate successful compensation claims, Mr McDonagh of Fanningstown, Fedamore, Co Limerick has received combined compensation awards of €40,700 concerning two of the road traffic accidents; one trip and fall in 2008 and another where he fell down the stairs of his local authority house in Limerick 25 years ago.

Counsel for Ms Niamh Kitson, Siobhán Gallagher BL told the court that the August 2012 crash in Ennis followed Mr McDonagh being involved in a road traffic accident in July 2012 and a third crash in May 2012.

Ms Gallagher said that Mr McDonagh has also been involved in further road traffic accidents in October 2015, November 2016 and June 2017.

Ms Gallagher said that Mr McDonagh has also been involved in a number of falls - she said that Mr McDonagh fell six foot off a ladder in May 2013 and had another fall in August 2013.

She said: “There was an incident with a gentlemen on a water-slide who fell down on top of you and you sustained injuries.”

In reply, Mr McDonagh said: “I didn’t put in claims.”

Mr McDonagh said that his first accident was in a corporation house in Limerick and told Ms Gallagher he received €14,000 for that.

Mr McDonagh said that 35 years ago, he was knocked off his motorbike. He said: “I never got any money out of that - my mother did. I never got anything.”

In 2001, Mr McDonagh received €5,000 from a road traffic accident and a further €11,000 from Limerick Co Council as a result of back injuries sustained after a trip and fall in 2007.

Ms Gallagher said that Mr McDonagh received a further €10,700 from a road traffic accident in 2008.

Pressed by Ms Gallagher at to whether there were any other accidents between 2008 and 2012, Mr McDonagh said: “It’s like been in school with a teacher giving out to me.”

Ms Gallagher stated that medical notes show that Mr McDonagh was involved in a road traffic accident in 2010.

Ms Gallagher said that in disclosure Mr McDonagh did not disclose that he was in a crash in May 2012.

He was a back-seat passenger in the car in that crash and his medical notes read out by Ms Gallagher stated: “Rear-ended - complaining of lower back pain. No loss of consciousness - getting flashbacks, complaining of headache and now complaining of chest tightness.”

Ms Gallagher said that this accident was very relevant to the case as Mr McDonagh is complaining of back-pain from the August 2012 crash.

Ms Gallagher said that Mr McDonagh didn’t make a compensation claim from the May 2012 crash but other members of his family did.

Later during his cross-examination by Ms Gallagher, Mr McDonagh told the court: “I’m feeling under pressure here.”

Mr McDonagh said: “I have had back-pain for years from the accidents I have had. The back-pain will never go away. I will be on Lyrica for the rest of my life and I will be on tablets for the rest of my life.”

He told the court: “I was never in a number of car accidents that were not my fault. I was never ever charged with dangerous driving or anything like that. I always travel with insurance and tax on my car.”

Mr McDonagh told the court that he aggravated the back pain he sustained as a result of his July 2012 crash in the Ennis August 2012 crash.

He said that he also had some ‘flashbacks’ from the August crash. In evidence, Ms Kitson said that Mr McDonagh crashed into her stationary car at the exit of the petrol station contradicting Mr McDonagh’s claim that Ms Kitson drove into his car.

Asked to describe the impact, Ms Kitson said: “It was like a cross-wind on a motorway. I could barely feel it.”

The estimated cost to the damage to Ms Kitson’s car was €579 and the estimated cost of damage to Mr McDonagh’s  €1,166. An expert told the court that both cars sustained “light impact” from the accident.

Ms Kitson told the court that the damage was so minor to her car she never carried out any repairs on it. She said: “You wouldn’t even know if there was a dent on my car.”

Recalling the impact, Ms Kitson said: “I was shocked and took me a moment to realise how could this have happened.”

In evidence, Mr McDonagh said: “I never said it was a massive accident…The injuries I got in the car accident with that lady (Ms Kitson) were nothing compared to the injuries I got from other accidents. It aggravated my pain a little bit but I wouldn’t put it down as major.”

Ms Gallagher said that there are no medical records from Mr McDonagh on the August 2012 crash. She said that when Ms Kitson’s insurer examined Mr McDonagh’s back the doctor believed that Mr McDonagh was exaggerating his symptoms.

In relation to costs, Judge Keys granted costs against Mr McDonagh but put a stay on the costs. He said that the stay on the costs would only be lifted if Mr McDonagh appeals the ruling.

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