Monday 18 December 2017

Teen passenger asleep during fatal crash settles for €1.25m damages

A TEENAGE girl, who fell asleep in the back seat of a car during an all night party and later suffered a head injury in a crash in which the 16-year old driver was killed, has settled her action for damages for €1.25m.

Ciara Kelly was just over 15 when the car she was in careered off the road and crashed in to a tree near Glenstal Abbey, Limerick, six years ago.

Approving the €1.25m settlement, Ms Justice Mary Irvine said it was a tragedy of enormous proportions for Ms Kelly and for the young lady who lost her life, Noreen Casey, in an accident driven by alcohol.

Ms Kelly, of Hilltop, St Patrick's Road, Limerick, sued through her mother Annette Kelly, the owner of the car Shane McMahon of Sandylane, Boher, Murrow, Co Limerick; the estate of Noreen Casey of Grange West, Boher, Murroe, Limerick, and the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland.

The settlement was against the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland, as Ms Casey was not covered by insurance at the time of the crash on November 11, 2006.

Ms Kelly claimed that she was asleep in the back seat of the car driven by Ms Casey at Capperculen, Murroe, Co Limerick when the car was went out of control and crashed violently into a tree as a result of which she suffered severe personal injuries. She claimed she sustained a significant closed head trauma, a fracture of her right femur and has developed post-traumatic epilepsy.

She further claimed that she continues to suffer physical pain, mental distress and discomfort and has suffered a diminution of her enjoyment of life and is restricted in her ordinary everyday activities.She has no memory of the accident and has experienced learning difficulties.

Counsel for Ms Kelly, Michael J Mc Mahon SC, said she had told her father she was staying overnight at a friend's house, but decided instead to attend an "all nighter".

The owner of the car Counsel said had a " free gaff", but later threw the young people out and told others to tidy up the house. Ms Kelly and a friend decided to get in Mr McMahon's car to sleep the night.

The other girl Noreen Casey was in the front seat and she started the car and drove it around in circles. Counsel said the owner of the car took the keys off the young woman and he went to bed as he needed to be up for work the next day.

Counsel said Ms Casey retrieved the keys. Counsel said Noreen Casey was driving when the car crashed.

Ms Casey had a large quantity of drink taken and had been told twice not to drive the car. He said Ms Kelly was asleep and the next thing she remembered was waking up in hospital.

Counsel said Ms Kelly had also consumed a quantity of drink. The car, he said was taken without permission and Ms Casey was not insured to drive.

Approving the settlement Ms Justice Mary Irvine said if the case went to hearing there could be a finding of contributory negligence against Ms Kelly because of the circumstances in which the accident occurred.

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