Saturday, 21 April, 2012
The highest ever award of car crash injury compensation in Ireland was made this week to a boy who sustained devastating injuries while travelling as a passenger in a car driven by his mother.
Cullen Kennedy (10), of Loughrea, County Galway, was awarded 11.5 million Euros at the High Court in Dublin following an accident in May 2008 when he was thrown against the windscreen of his mother´s car – despite being secured in a bolster chair on the rear seat – and suffered such devastating injuries that he is now a quadriplegic and breathes through a ventilator.
Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that on May 5th 2008, Cullen´s mother – Margaret – was momentarily distracted by her son and due to a “momentary lapse of concentration” wandered into the path of an oncoming car. Neither Margaret nor the driver of the other vehicle suffered any serious injury, but Cullen suffered severe spinal injuries which will confine him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
As Margaret Cullen was an uninsured driver, a claim for car accidents without insurance compensation was made by Cullen´s grandmother on his behalf against the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI). After assessing the care that Cullen had already received and what he made need for the future, an award of 11.5 million Euros was agreed which, although being a record for car crash injury compensation in Ireland, drew criticism from Ms Justice Mary Irvine.
Approving the lump sum payment, but condemning the lack of Periodic Payment Orders (PPOs), Ms Justice Mary Irvine said that the courts were gambling with the lives of those who had suffered catastrophic injuries. “The reality is the courts don’t know when people are going to die,” she said. “We are gambling every day.” Her comments were made in the context of an injured person living longer than anticipated by medical experts and running out of money to fund their care.
Ms Justice Mary Irvine noted that a working group on Periodic Payment Orders had been established in 2008, and had reported in October 2010 that legislation should be introduced to allow cases concerning a catastrophic injury to be settled on the basis of annual payments (PPOs). While Ms Justice Mary Irvine had “no doubt the Government has very significant issues to deal with” she said that the absence of legislation had left the courts guessing about the security, welfare and futures of the most vulnerable litigants.
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