Pensioner claims medical condition led to car crash

A Gweedore pensioner has claimed in the High Court he is not liable for a fatal car accident because a medical ailment caused him to lose control of his vehicle.

A Gweedore pensioner has claimed in the High Court he is not liable for a fatal car accident because a medical ailment caused him to lose control of his vehicle.

81-year-old William Barr claims if the High Court finds he has liability in proceedings brought against him on behalf of a child seriously injured in the crash, he should be indemnified by his local GP, Dr Anthony Delap of Bunbeg.

The action, the first case of its type in Irish courts, against Mr Barr, of Middletown, Gweedore, has been brought on behalf of seven-year-old Noirin McGarvey of Lower Dore, Bunbeg, by her father Ronan.

She suffered severe spinal injuries that left her in a wheelchair as a result of the accident in Dunlewy on May 27, 2008.

Mr Barr’s wife, Maggie, died in the crash.

The court heard earlier this week that Noirin is a bright child but is conscious of her injuries and while she has movement in her upper limbs, she is paraplegic.

Following the crash, Noirin, her mother and brother were trapped in their car, which caught fire and people nearby managed to get the family out of the car, the court heard.

It is claimed the car driven by Mr Barr crossed on to the wrong side of the road, resulting in a collision with the McGarveys’ car. It is also claimed Mr Barr drove in a manner that caused the accident and drove too fast.

Mr Barr denies negligence or liability and claims he experienced a medical ailment immediately prior to the collision, causing him to lose control of his car. He was on medication at the time to deal with complaints of high blood pressure, light headedness and episodes of lost consciousness.

Senior counsel for Mr Barr told the court if there was any finding of liability against his client, then Mr Barr was entitled to an indemnity or a contribution from Dr Delap.

This argument was rejected by Dr Delap’s legal team.

Richard Keane SC, for Nóirín McGarvey, argued that Mr Barr was not entitled to maintain the defence outlined. That defence was submitted in April 2010, two years after Mr Barr’s insurance company AXA confirmed it was admitting liability.

The case before Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill is expected to run for two weeks.