Kerry boy (12) left with brain injury after car crash settles case for almost €10m

Four Courts

27 October 2022

A 12-year-old boy who, when he was a baby suffered a traumatic brain injury after he was propelled from a car as it suddenly went out of control and struck a ditch, has settled a High Court action for almost €10 million.

Patrick O’Leary from Listowel in Kerry was just nine months old and sitting on a person’s lap in the back seat of the car when the accident happened outside Listowel town and the car ended up in a dyke. The baby landed on top of the ditch.

Patrick’s counsel Liam Reidy SC instructed by Cantillons Solicitors told the High Court the baby was thrown out of the car and suffered a significant injury. The car was driven by his father Patrick O’Leary Senior who Counsel said died two weeks later.

Counsel said the baby who had fractured his skull and had brain swelling was brought to Kerry General Hospital and later transferred to Cork University Hospital. As the child grew older, Counsel said it became clear that he was not going to reach his developmental milestones and he also had problems with his gait and balance.

Mr Reidy said Paddy’s mother Christine O’Gorman has devoted her entire life to looking after her son “in an exemplary way”.

Patrick O’Leary from Listowel, Co Kerry had sued a representative of his late father Patrick O’Leary Senior who was the driver of the car, the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) and Kerry County Council over the accident on September 15th, 2010 outside Listowel town.

It was claimed that the car failed to maintain a straight course and struck the ditch and entered a dyke near Annavoher Cross outside Listowel town.

The MIBI was sued because the car driver was uninsured.

It was claimed against Kerry County Council that it had allegedly allowed the roadway to deteriorate and be of such undulating nature that the driver lost control of the car.

It was further claimed there was an alleged failure to ensure the drains and dykes were properly maintained so that water from the public roadway could be rapidly and safely removed without causing further damage to the road surface.

The case was before the court for assessment of damages only. Mr Justice Paul Coffey on Tuesday was told that the settlement of €9.975 million was reached after negotiation between the parties which lasted the day.

Patrick’s mother Christine O’Gorman told the court when her son was in junior infants’ class, teachers noted he had issues with balance, especially when running and in senior infants he had problems with maths and was finding it difficult to keep up. She said she sought advice from an educational psychologist and Patrick transferred to a special school, where he settled in quickly.

“I hope that Paddy will be OK. That is all I can do. I hope he will be OK,” she said.

Approving the settlement against all three defendants, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said he wanted to acknowledge the heroic efforts of Ms O’Gorman and her family on behalf of Patrick and said the people of Ireland must be very grateful to them.

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