- with reporting from Ray Managh
A 12-year-old girl whose backseat headrest was struck from behind by a wheelchair lift in a car accident four years ago, has been awarded damages of €60,000 in the Circuit Civil court.
Judge John O’Connor heard that Ella Croly of Malahide, Co Dublin, had been a backseat passenger in a stationary car when it was rear-ended by another vehicle registered to Peter O’ Brien and Sons (Landscaping) on June 14, 2015.
Barrister Rachel Baldwin, counsel for Ella who sued through her mother Hilda Croly, told the court there had been a wheelchair accessible lift installed in the car Ella had been a passenger in.
Ms Baldwin, who appeared with Brendan Byrne of Byrne and Company Solicitors, said as the crash occurred the lift had been propelled forward from behind Ella’s seat and had impacted her headrest.
She said Ella had gone home following the accident but had later experienced nausea and headaches.
Ms Baldwin said Ella, who was only days off her seventh birthday at the time, had gone to her GP in July 2015, complaining of headaches. Her doctor discovered she had suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck and upper back during the crash.
Counsel said Ella had complained to her mother that she had felt pain all over but particularly in her head. The child had been prescribed paracetamol and Neurofen.
She said, while at school, Ella’s teachers had noted that every second or third day she had experienced episodes of headache and that she had put her head down and had appeared to be in discomfort.
Ms Baldwin said Ella had missed several weeks off school as a consequence of this.
The court heard that Ella had been seen by a Consultant Paediatric Neurologist on May 9, 2018. His opinion had been that she had suffered a mild concussion during the accident and that as a result of this she had been experiencing post-traumatic headaches in the form of chronic daily migraine.
Ms Baldwin said Ella’s headaches had decreased from daily to eight-ten times per month.
She said the Paediatric Neurologist had been of the opinion that if Ella had been suffering headaches three years after the accident, it had been likely she would continue to do so for the next two to three years.
Counsel said Ella had previously been offered a settlement sum of €45,000 general damages by Peter O’ Brien and Sons (Landscaping) Limited, Feltrim Road, Swords, Co. Dublin.
She said the application had been refused as inadequate by the former President of the Circuit Court, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke.
Mr Groarke had stated that €60,000 damages would be the settlement sum the court would be willing to approve otherwise the case could be transferred to the unlimited jurisdiction of the High Court.
Ms Baldwin told Judge O’Connor that the case had reappeared before the court on May 14, 2019, and that the defendants had at this point raised their offer to €50,000.
Ms Baldwin said the sum had not been approved by the court for a second time.
She said given the improvement Ella has made to date she had been happy to recommend today’s offer of €60,000 from the defendant. Judge O’Connor approved the new offer.
Earlier this year, Peter O’Brien and Sons (Landscaping) Limited won the industry’s prestigious Landscape Contractor of the Year and Sports Turf Contractor of the Year awards.