Taxi passenger awarded €38k after whiplash injury

A 38-year-old computer consultant, who was jolted forward when a ball joint collapsed in a taxi taking him to work, has been awarded €38,220 damages against the cab owner.

Judge Terence O’Sullivan told Martin Brown that while nobody could say that degenerative changes in his spine had been caused by the incident, the court accepted the opinion they had been rendered symptomatic as a result of a whiplash injury.

Mr Brown, of The View, Robswall, Malahide, Co Dublin, told his counsel, Jane Ferry, yesterday that he still suffers pain and stiffness in his neck and shoulders due to the injury from the 2013 incident on Dublin’s quays.

He said he had been late for work on August 19, 2013, and had called the cab. The taxi failed mechanically and, although he had been wearing his seatbelt, he had been thrown forward. He walked the rest of the way to his work in Dublin.

Mr Brown said the effects of the incident hit him when he got into his office. He was quite shaken and a colleague advised him to seek medical advice. He went to his GP but later attended a specialist and a physiotherapy clinic.

Ms Ferry said in the Circuit Civil Court that Mr Brown was suing taximan Paul Freeman of The Close, Orlynn Park, Lusk, Co Dublin, for negligence. The claim was for a maximum of €60,000.

Expert evidence revealed the front left ball joint had suddenly failed and the wheel had been knocked askew at a 45-degree angle.

Anne O’Callaghan, from the Dublin Spine and Sports Physiotherapy Clinic, told the court Mr Brown suffered trauma to his cervical and lumbar area during the incident. He had been totally pain free until the episode and, in her opinion, the trauma he suffered had caused the degenerative changes to become symptomatic.

Judge O’Sullivan said Ms O’Callaghan had told the court, in a report, that degenerative discs and joints did not have the capacity to absorb force in the same way as healthy joints and the condition could be rendered active and painful.

The judge said Mr Brown had been treated with a course of medication, physiotherapy, and injections, but would have an element of difficulty into the future.

He awarded him €38,220 damages together with his legal costs.

Mr Freeman, the defendant, had told the court the taxi came to a gradual halt after the ball joint failed.

Judge O’Sullivan said he was satisfied, on expert evidence, that the cab driver would earlier have had some noise or bumps warning about the defective ball joint in his vehicle and had been negligent in not having it dealt with by his servicing agents.


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