A judge, while refusing to accept a Traveller woman’s pain and injury as she described them in court, said she was entitled to modest damages arising from an accident involving her husband’s driving.
Mr Justice Raymond Groarke said in the Circuit Civil Court that he did not believe Martina Ward had mounted a purposeful effort to effect a miscarriage of justice or attempt some type of fraud.
He told barrister Paul McMorrow, counsel for the Zurich Insurance Company, that while he had identified a number of weaknesses in Ms Ward’s case, the court accepted she had suffered some degree of injury.
“This woman is illiterate, innumerate, and unable to express herself in the same manner as someone with the skills of a basic education,” Judge Groarke said.
Martina Ward, of Ardkeen, Cavan, had sued her husband Martin and Zurich Insurance for injuries she suffered while a passenger in her own Ford Transit van which was being driven by her husband at Charlestown, Co Mayo, in November 2011.
Judge Groarke told Mr McMorrow, who appeared with Collins Crowley solicitors for Zurich, that he accepted the van impacted with a boulder at the entrance to a halting site. He said that while Martina Ward, 34, had not come across as a compelling witness, it did not mean she was not a credible one.
“I am far from satisfied that the extent of her injuries were as described by her or that she was in severe pain or symptomatic for 18 months after the accident,” Judge Groarke said.
The last time she had attended a doctor about her injuries was in March 2012 and he believed she had been well on the road to recovery, if not fully recovered, within six months after the accident.
Judge Groarke told her barrister Ray Ryan, who appeared with Galway solicitors MacSweeney and Company, that Martina Ward was entitled to €6,000 damages and €200 travel and miscellaneous expenses. He awarded her District Court costs with a certificate for counsel.
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