Clare woman’s personal injury action allowed despite judge finding she wasn’t in car during crash

car crash

9 April 2022

A judge has rejected an application that he throw out a €60,000 personal injury action by a Co. Clare mother before evidence is heard in the case.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Jack Nicholas BL made the application to Judge Colin Daly after the judge found that Caroline Sherlock of Carrowgar, Lahinch, was not in a car with her family when it crashed into a car being driven by Gaelscoil principal, Deirdre Ui Mhaile, at Moy outside Lahinch in 2014.

Ms Sherlock has made a personal injury claim against Ms Ui Mhaile arising from the accident and Judge Daly made the finding, that on the balance of probabilities, Ms Sherlock wasn’t in the car at the time when throwing out her husband, John Sherlock’s, own €60,000 personal injury claim against Ms Ui Mhaile from the accident.

John Sherlock’s case

Ms Sherlock was a witness in that case where she was adamant that she was in the car and Judge Daly dismissed John Sherlock’s action after finding that he was “a less than reliable witness”.

In evidence in the John Sherlock personal injury action, Ms Ui Mhaile said that Caroline Sherlock “was not in the car”. “Mrs Sherlock was not in the front seat of the car – at any time,” Ms Ui Mhaile told the court.

She also told the court: “Mr Sherlock was the one who crashed into me. I wasn’t injured. I didn’t think the impact was so severe as to cause any injury.”

Arising from the road traffic accident, the Sherlocks’ five children have each taken personal injury actions against Ms Ui Mhaile’s insurer and those cases have been adjourned where evidence has yet to be heard.

Applying to Judge Daly that Ms Sherlock’s case be dismissed, Mr Nicholas said that having determined the issue about Ms Sherlock not being in the car at the time of the crash, it would be unnecessary and an abuse of process to proceed with her personal injury case.

Ms Sherlock’s application

However, counsel for Ms Sherlock, Lorcan Connolly BL said that his client is entitled to vindicate her good name as another court may come to a different conclusion.

Mr Connolly said the issue of Ms Sherlock being in the car is something that has to be resolved. He said: “I don’t think a court can make a finding against someone on the balance of probabilities which is tantamount to a declaration that Caroline Sherlock perjured herself in the John Sherlock case.” 

Mr Connolly pointed out that Caroline Sherlock was only a witness in the John Sherlock case. Mr Connolly said that Ms Sherlock in her own personal injury action may call evidence from her children who were in the car and who say ‘Yes, Mammy was in the car that morning going to school’.

He said that Ms Sherlock may call medical evidence that will say that the doctor examined her and whose objective medical evidence corroborated her version of events that in the previous day or two that she was involved in an accident.

Mr Connolly said: “These were all matters that were not taken into account in her husband’s case for obvious reasons as she was simply a witness in the case”. 

“It would be wrong, judge, to shut her out and ultimately if she doesn’t save the day, there will be an adverse costs order against her. Caroline Sherlock may feel somewhat short-changed that she didn’t get all her evidence or her full story across and she may be let down by the justice system and no one should be feeling that way”.

Judge Daly rejected Mr Nicholas’s application and said that the Caroline Sherlock case can be adjourned. Judge Daly said that it would be better if a different judge would hear her case.

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