Friday 16 November 2018

'She deserves every penny' - says family of 'Luas-surfing' woman after €550k payout

  • Rebecca Kelly received sum at High Court last week
  • Accident occurred when she was 13-years'-old
  • Family of young woman says she is afraid to leave her home since court appearance
Rebecca Kelly, 20, of Pearse House, Pearse Street, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after she was awarded €550,000 damages following a High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts
Rebecca Kelly, 20, of Pearse House, Pearse Street, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after she was awarded €550,000 damages following a High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts

Rachel Farrell

The family of a young woman who received a €550,000 settlement after falling off a Luas while 'tram-surfing' has said she is afraid to leave her home since her court appearance.

Rebecca Kelly received the sum last week at the High Court for the accident that happened when she was 13-years'-old.

The then-teenager struck her head off the tracks after she held on to the doors of a Tallaght-bound Luas before falling off, the court heard.

The 20-year-old, who recently gave birth to her first child, fears leaving the house since her court appearance last week, according to her family.

"She’s been getting awful abuse, it’s unbelievable. The girl is afraid to leave her house, she’s been getting threats and everything," Rebecca’s sister Jennifer told 98FM.

"Her Facebook is being completely trolled. She hasn’t got a minute. 

Rebecca Kelly, 20, of Pearse House, Pearse Street, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts after she was awarded €550,000 damages following a High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts
Rebecca Kelly, 20, of Pearse House, Pearse Street, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts after she was awarded €550,000 damages following a High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts

"The girl is constantly crying over this. We just want privacy at this stage."

Ms Kelly’s two sisters Rebecca and Courtney justified the six-figure sum, saying that she deserved the settlement after suffering a brain injury.

"She deserved it, she went through eight years of hell. She’s going to suffer with this for the rest of her life, it's hard enough without all of these people," Jennifer said.

Courtney added that her sister had been receiving threats on social media. She said that the money will help Ms Kelly with her newborn son.

"My sister can’t leave her home, how can she when there’s reporters at the door and she’s afraid she’s going to get jumped on because she has half a million.

"How can you leave your home when you’re getting threats and called a tramp on Facebook?

"She deserves every penny for what she’s been through for these eight years. She deserves every penny of that for her and her son. Her child is only two weeks old and he’s been dragged through newspapers and Facebook.

"This is eight years ago, her child’s got f**k all to do with it. But that money is to set him for life."

Ms Kelly (20), of Pearse House, Pearse Street, Dublin, had through her mother Elizabeth Kelly sued the Luas operators Veolia Transport Dublin Light Rail Ltd and Veolia Transport Ireland Ltd of St John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin as a result of the accident on September 3, 2010.

The €550,000 settlement has received mixed opinions on social media. CEO of Insurance Ireland Kevin Thompson explained that the amount given for personal injury claim awards is on the rise.

"I can’t comment on this recent award but what we do know from the personal injuries commission, the benchmark for our level of awards versus awards in other countries, namely the United Kingdom, found that Irish awards for personal injuries were 4.5 times that of the UK level," Mr Thompson told 98FM.

"The costs and the level of awards are rising, so yes, our awards are higher than our nearest neighbour.

"We've seen a lot of claims inflation over the years. We've seen a 48pc increase in the average circuit court awards from 2013 up to 2016."

Mr Thompson added that high costs associated with the claims are another factor to consider.

"We also have high costs associated with our claims. The cost of insurance working group, which is a working group set up by government to look at the cost of claims, found that there is roughly for every €100,000 award given, you can add on an additional €42,000 in legal and other costs paid. 

"It’s expensive for us as well to process awards in the courts," he said.

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