A 23-year-old car crash victim who suffered severe brain injuries when he was thrown from a car which hit a tree has secured €4.25 million in settlement of his High Court action.
The man, who cannot be named because he is a ward of court, had sued the uninsured driver of the car and the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland which deals with cases of unidentified and/or uninsured drivers. The claim was brought on his behalf by a ward-of-court committee.
The incident occurred in Co Donegal in March 2008 when the car in which the man was travelling as a back seat passenger went out of control, left the road and hit a tree.
The man, then aged 19 and an unemployed labourer, was thrown from the car and suffered severe brain trauma and other injuries.
He requires permanent nursing care, assistance with eating and drinking and speech therapy and can communicate by means of a thumb up or thumb down and by writing some of his requirements, the court heard.
Last Wednesday, John Finlay SC, on behalf of the ward committee and the man, told Ms Justice Mary Irvine the case had been settled.
Liability had been admitted with contributory negligence assessed at 20 per cent of the value of the claim as the man was not wearing a seatbelt and was allegedly warned before getting into the car there were no seatbelts in the rear of the vehicle, counsel said.
On the day of the crash, the man had been at a boxing match with two companions, counsel said. They met the defendant driver and the man got into the back seat of the car to go for “a spin”.
The man had been fostered since the age of two to a “remarkable lady” who remains his main carer, counsel said. She attends to all aspects of his care including sleeping on a couch beside his bed so that she can meet his needs.
That situation could not continue indefinitely as the woman was aged 85, Mr Finlay said. Her family, including 11 children, all lived near her and she had given a site from her land so her foster son can build a bungalow there.
Asked by Ms Justice Irvine if the foster mother was happy with the settlement, counsel said she had described it as a “wild amount of money” and she would take the advice of her lawyers about it.
The judge said it may look a wild amount but one had to consider the man’s needs for the rest of his life. Approving the sum, the judge said it was an excellent settlement.
She also ordered that €544,800 be paid out for hospital bills and for expenses incurred to date by the foster mother.