Woman loses damages case following injuries when uninsured driver crashed her car

By Ann O'Loughlin

A woman who sued the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland for damages over injuries suffered by her when a man with whom she had gone for a drink crashed her uninsured car into a lamppost has lost her case.

Costs of the failed High Court action were awarded against Natalie Grimes, Avondale Park, Mulhuddart, Dublin, to the MIBI.

Mr Justice Anthony Barr dismissed the case after finding Ms Grimes was required under the 2009 MIBI agreement to also sue the car driver, Glen Sheridan, the father of Ms Grimes' son, unless she had established he remains an untraceable driver under the agreement.

She had not done so and thus could not sue the MIBI as a sole defendant, he ruled.

It was "simply untenable" for Ms Grimes to say Mr Sheridan was untraceable between the time of the accident in March 2011 and when she saw him in the corridor outside court on the first day of her case last April, he said.

Had a Garda investigating the accident been asked, he would have confirmed he had addresses for Mr Sheridan and, on foot of a request routed through the Garda's District Officer, would have provided that information in writing to Ms Grimes' solicitor, he said.

The investigating Garda had said there was no criminal investigation of the accident, and no prosecution, as no complaint was made. He also said the couple involved had "glazed eyes" when he approached them in hospital on the night of the accident and refused to talk to him.

The Garda said he got names, addresses and dates of birth of the couple from the hospital but was unaware of correspondence and phone calls passing between Ms Grimes' solicitor and gardai between September and December 2012 seeking a garda report of the accident and other information, including about Mr Sheridan.

Given his findings on untraceability, the judge said it was unnecessary to address other issues raised by the MIBI, including whether Ms Grimes allowed herself to be carried in the car knowing Mr Sheridan was not insured to drive it and he may have consumed excess alcohol.

Anther issue was whether she breached a clause of the MIBI agreement requiring a claimant to fully co-operate with gardai investigating the circumstances leading to her claim.

The case arose from the accident in Clonee on the night of March 22nd 2011.

Ms Grimes claimed she had had only a brief relationship with Mr Sheridan, resulting in the birth of their son in 1999, and there was infrequent contact between them before he had contacted her on March 22nd 2011. She said he wanted to go to a pub in Clonee and, when she said she could not drive her car as it was not insured, he said he had open insurance to drive any car. Ms Grimes said she took that at face value.

She said she had two pints of lager and Mr Sheridan had two pint bottles of cider and the accident happened some 15 minutes after they left the bar.

She claimed Mr Sheridan was untraceable after both of them left the A&E department of a Dublin hospital after the arrival of gardai. She claimed they did so without her receiving treatment after Mr Sheridan told her: "We have to get out of this dump, I am banned", meaning he was banned from driving.

She had not heard from Mr Sheridan since the accident or since she phoned his mother, asking her to tell him he would be done for criminal damage, it was claimed.

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