Woman with severe brain damage from crash settles case for €14.75m

four courts, dublin

4 November 2021

A woman who was catastrophically injured and rendered totally incapacitated when the car driven by her husband collided with a tractor and trailer on a Cork road has settled her action for €14.75 million

The settlement was announced in the High Court on Thursday.

Olivia Redmond O’Callaghan was aged 28 when she was left with massive brain damage and needing full-time care for the rest of her life following the accident on the old Glanmire to Cork Road in 2011.

The car, driven by her husband Myles O’Callaghan, who died in the collision, was uninsured, the court heard.

At the opening of her legal action, her counsel, Dr John O’Mahony SC, said her brain injury is as serious as one can find. The woman, who gave birth to her third child months after the accident, does not recognise her children.

Ms Redmond O’Callaghan, now aged 37, from, Gowlane South, Donoughmore, Co Cork, had sued her late husband’s estate, the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) and Cork County Council over the accident.

She took her action against the MIBI and Cork County Council through her stepfather Liam Power. The court heard she would not be able to attend court or give evidence, and her mental competency the court heard is “at the bottom of the spectrum”.

In court on Thursday, Dr O’Mahony SC, instructed by solicitor John Henchion, said it was an extremely tragic and sad case and Olivia’s brain damage is “off the scale”.

Counsel said Olivia’s mother, Norma Redmond Power, and her stepfather are regarded as parents by the three O’Callaghan children. Ms Redmond O’Callaghan has been in institutional care since the accident, he said. 

Approving the settlement on Thursday, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it was a most tragic case and the offer was very good. The judge conveyed his best wishes to Olivia’s family, particularly Daniel who, he said, did not know his mother. 

Against Cork County Council, it was claimed it constructed a public roadway which was allegedly defective and dangerous to road users, with a tight bend that allegedly had a radius of curvature below the minimum acceptable standard. It was further claimed that high vegetation was permitted to grow that allegedly restricted forward visibility.

There was an alleged failure to warn Mr O’Callaghan of the sharp left-hand bend, it was claimed. There was also an alleged failure to erect any or any proper warning signs including rumble strips.

Cork County Council denied all the claims and contended the bend was visible for 210 metres. It said there was a camber angle on the bend that benefits drivers negotiating it.

The accident, Cork County Council claimed, was caused by the alleged negligence of the late Mr O’Callaghan in the driving, speed, care, management and control of the car, in which his wife was a passenger.

In its defence, the MIBI claimed Ms Redmond O’Callaghan allegedly failed to have any regard for her own safety and permitted herself to be carried in a car for which she allegedly knew there was no valid insurance policy in place.

Outside the court following the case, Ms Redmond O’Callaghan’s family said the settlement will ensure they can plan for her future care. It also gives them hope for her further rehabilitation.

“Unfortunately, it will never bring our girl back to those of us who still miss her every day,” her parents said in a statement.

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