Driver of crashed van in which woman suffered catastrophic injuries was three times over legal limit

A young mother who was catastrophically injured when a van she was in crashed, has settled her High Court action for €5.75m, writes Ann O’Loughlin.

The driver of the van in which Antoinette Breen was a passenger was later found to be three times over the legal drink driving limit, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told today.

The 36-year old woman, her senior counsel Noel McMahon told the High Court has been left left in a state just a stage above vegetative state and is cared for in a hospital since the accident three years ago.

The woman, who has a young son reacts, to her family but otherwise has minimal responses, her counsel revealed.

Her family hoped the settlement would mean they could put in place a proper plan of care for the young woman, Counsel added.

Her father Gerard Breen said the family were satisfied with the settlement "once Antoinette was taken care of."

Antoinette Breen, Beaupark Road, Blackrock, The Loakers, Co Louth had through her father Gerard Breen sued the driver of the van Declan McEvoy of Doylesfort Road, Dundalk , Co Louth as a result of the accident on June 15, 2014.

The van crashed head on into an embankment and wall on the left hand side of the Doylesfort Road as the couple travelled towards Dundalk town.

It was claimed Mr McEvoy drove at excessive speed and drove in a careless and reckless manner. It was further claimed he failed to stop, steer brake or otherwise manage and control his motor vehicle in such a fashion as to avoid coliding with the embankment and wall.

The claims were denied and it was contended Ms Breen failed to wear a seat belt and allegedly knowingly travelled as a passenger in the van in circumstances where she allegedly knew or ought to have known Mr McEvoy was intoxicated.

Mr McMahon said liability was admitted in the case subject to the claim of contributory negligence in relation to the seat belt and allowing herself to be carried in a vehicle when the driver was intoxicated.

Counsel said Mr McEvoy was found to be three times over the limit and it was also likely following investigations that Ms Breen was not wearing a seat belt.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Cross said it was a good one taking into account that it would not be possible to establish if Ms Breen was wearing a seat belt and the fact that the driver was intoxicated.

He wished the family well and said it was very distressing for them. He now hoped Ms Breen can have a better future.

Outside court the family solicitor Sean T O’Reilly said the Breen family wished to thank all those involved and the insurance company for treating the family fairly.

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