Tuesday 22 January 2019

'Ultra-fit' woman who suffered severe head injury in road incident settles High Court action

The incident occurred at Ballinascarthy on the main Bandon - Clonakilty road (Photo; Google Maps)
The incident occurred at Ballinascarthy on the main Bandon - Clonakilty road (Photo; Google Maps)

Tim Healy

A 40-year old woman who suffered a severe head injury when she was knocked off her bicycle by an 84-year old driver has settled her High Court action.

Olivia Walsh suffered fractures to her upper body and was in an induced coma for two weeks after the accident as she cycled on the main Bandon to Clonakity Road in Co Cork two years ago.

Last year, at the Cork Circuit Criminal Court, farmer Denis O'Driscoll of Cashelmore, Bandon, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to careless driving causing serious bodily harm to Ms Walsh at Ballinascarthy on the morning of June 2, 2016.

A garda inspector told the court the pensioner had said he believed a fly had got into his eye, causing a momentary lapse in his concentration as he drove along the road.

Mr O'Driscoll only realised he had hit Ms Walsh when he got home and his son saw the damage to his car.

The Circuit Criminal Court heard his son drove back along his route and came across the scene of the crash. He then notified gardaí to interview his father, who co-operated fully with their investigation.

Judge Sean O'Donnabhain, who was told that Ms Walsh did not wish Mr O'Driscoll to be jailed,  imposed a 12 month suspended sentence and disqualified him from driving for ten years.

In the High Court on Friday, Ms Walsh, of Bahona, Clonakilty, Co Cork,  sued Mr O'Driscoll, as driver, and Mary O'Driscoll, Cashelmore, Bandon, as owner of the car.

It was claimed that Mr O'Driscoll allegedly drove too fast, failed to have any or any adequate proper lookout and failed to see the bicycle Ms Walsh was riding in time or at all.

It was also claimed there was an alleged failure to manage, manoeuvre, steer or otherwise control the vehicle so as to avoid a collision.

Ms Walsh, it was claimed, was greatly shocked by the incident and she was brought to Cork University Hospital.

She lost consciousness and had cerebral haemorrhages and skull fractures. She also had facial injuries and an open fracture of her left arm and collar bone.

She remained in intensive care until June 13, 2016.

Before the accident, Ms Walsh said, she was ultra fit and participated in marathons including being the first Irish person to run and complete a course of 230km across the Amazon jungle. She had also planned to take part in adventure races in the Arctic, Sweden and Denmark.

Liability was admitted in the case which was before the High Court for assessment of damages only.

After talks between the parties, Mr Justice Anthony Barr was told the case had been resolved.

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