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€4m for son left paralysed when mother crashed car

A TEARFUL mother told of her concern that her son might one day hold her personally responsible for a car accident which left him in a wheelchair.

Sandra McCullagh was speaking in the High Court before a judge approved a €4.25m settlement for her son Sean, now aged ten, who was a back seat passenger, in a belted-in booster seat, when his mother's car was in a head-on collision with a truck.

The accident happened on the Ballycoolin Road in Blanchardstown, Dublin, in February 2006, as she tried to avoid a pothole.

Sean suffered catastrophic injuries, leaving him paraplegic. The High Court heard the truck driver was exonerated of any blame in the case in which liability had been accepted and which was before the judge for assessment only.


The settlement was against Mrs McCullagh as the insured driver of the car and it was brought on Sean's behalf by his father Rory of Summerfield Avenue, Blanchardstown.

Mr Justice Gerard Hogan ordered a payment out of €75,000 to the family with the remainder of the money set to be held by the court until Sean is 18.

Sean lives in the family home, which was specially bought and adapted for his needs, the court heard.

Mrs McCullagh said she hoped Sean would stay at home for as long as he liked, but she wanted him to be able to live as an independent adult.

"I want him to be a grown man who will live his own life and I do not want him to be shackled to the house," she said.

Mrs McCullagh wanted Sean, who was a very bright child, to go to college but she worries that in the future he may blame her for what happened to him.

In tears, she said: "I will do my best for my son but I am concerned that Sean may one day hold me personally responsible and I will have to protect myself and my husband."

The court heard the McCullaghs had never given up hope for Sean and had taken him to rehabilitation clinics in Zurich and Florida and eventually to the Shriners Children's Hospital in Philadelphia for the most progressive therapies available.

Mrs McCullagh said they also hoped he could eventually be fitted with robotic legs.

Mr Justice Hogan paid tribute to the parents and wider family for their care, love and devotion to Sean.

Having seen a video of a day in the life of Sean, the judge said he was "an extraordinarily brave young man who had suffered a great deal".