'No amount of money can compensate for the horrific injuries Cullen has suffered'
THE family of a boy awarded a record €11.5m personal injuries claim yesterday said no amount of money could compensate for his horrific injuries.
Cullen Kennedy (10), from Loughrea, Co Galway, was being driven to school by his mother Margaret in May 2008 when her car collided head-on with another vehicle.
Ms Kennedy was uninsured at the time.
Now a quadriplegic, Cullen is confined to a wheelchair and unable to breath without the aid of a ventilator.
He will need 24-hour care for the rest of his life.
The High Court heard that after suffering a momentary lapse of concentration, Ms Kennedy veered on to the other side of the road before her car hit the other vehicle.
Yesterday, the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), which will pay the settlement, secured an order against Ms Kennedy as the uninsured driver.
She can now be held liable to repay all or part of the award but it is understood she would only be pursed for the money in the event of her receiving a significant financial windfall.
The action against Ms Kennedy and the MIBI was taken through Cullen's grandmother, Monica Kennedy.
Outside the High Court yesterday, Ms Kennedy stood by her son and her mother as a statement was read out by solicitor Ian Foley on their behalf.
"Cullen is a wonderful 10-year-old boy who suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of a road traffic accident in June 2008," they said. "All our lives changed forever that day, most especially Cullen's, who was a normal and happy six-year-old and is now a quadriplegic.
"We would like to pay a personal tribute to Cullen, who is an inspiring and very brave boy. No amount of money could compensate for the horrific injuries he has suffered."
The money awarded will be controlled by the courts.
Private drivers in Ireland pay about €35 to €40 a year as part of their premium, which is used by the MIBI to compensate victims of accidents where the responsible party is not covered.
Yesterday's award in the High Court was the largest personal injury payment in the history of the State.
"We have had sufficient funds earmarked for this claim and it won't have any effect on people's (insurance) premiums," John Casey, chief executive of the MIBI told the Irish Independent last night.
Commenting on the settlement, Ms Justice Mary Irvine highlighted the Government's failure to introduce a system of awards which would cater for the lifelong needs of people who suffer catastrophic injuries.
The courts are "gambling" daily with the welfare and security of those who suffer such injuries, she said.
While stressing the case before her involved an "excellent" settlement, the judge called for "urgent and prompt" attention to the need for laws providing for periodic payments in these cases.
"The reality is the courts don't know when people are going to die," she said. "We are gambling every day."