© The Examiner
Three women who were injured in what was described at Limerick Circuit Court as “an incredible” road accident when their SUV was rear-ended by a rented van yesterday received substantial damages. A fourth person who was also in the SUV settled her case.
Mary O’Reilly, of 92 Orchard Heights, Charleville, Co Cork, who was driving the SUV, and her passengers Lisa O’Reilly, 6 New Crescent, Childers Rd, Limerick; Caitriona McDonagh, 37 Orchard Heights, Charleville; and Breda McCarthy, 32 Orchard Heights, Charleville, sued the van driver, Jeremiah O’Brien of Deel Court, Rathkeale, and ERAC Ireland Ltd, trading as Enterprise Rent A Car, and the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland.
The four women sought damages for personal injuries arising out of the collision on October 18, 2011.
John O’Regan, counsel for the car rental company and the insurers, claimed the circumstances of the accident were highly suspicious.
Mary O’Reilly’s husband William O’Reilly, owner of the SUV was awarded €4,800 material damages at Limerick District Court on January 7, 2014, and this was also appealed yesterday.
In evidence Mr O’Reilly said he did not know Mr O’Brien, the driver of the rented van.
During cross examination, Mr O’Reilly agreed that Mr O’Brien’s family had lived near his parents in Charleville, but he only knew him as one of the Rathkeale Travellers. He had seen him outside a chipper in Charleville when they had a brief discussion about the accident. That was the only time he had met Mr O’Brien.
Mary O’Reilly said she was driving three of the plaintiffs to Rathkeale. At a roundabout she was hit by a van. She was in shock and although suffering no injury, she later got pains in her back and up her arms and neck. She was treated at Mallow Hospital. Due to pain after the accident she found it hard to carry out day-to-day housework and had trouble sleeping.
She agreed she had been involved in road accidents in 2005 and 2008. As a result of the 2008 accident, she got €10,000 and could not recall the amount she got arising from the 2005 accident.
In reply to Mr O’Regan, she denied knowing Mr O’Brien and orchestrating the accident with him.
Garda William McElligott said when he got to the scene all the occupants were still in the vehicles, which he said was unusual. He did not note any damage to either vehicle.
Mr O’Regan applied for a dismissal of the claims and submitted that the circumstances surrounding the accident were incredible and did not stand up to scrutiny.
Judge Karen Fergus found in favour of Mary O’Reilly and awarded €7,500 personal injury damages and costs.
Judge Fergus affirmed the material damages award of €4,800 to Mr O’Reilly arising from the damage to his SUV.
Ms McDonagh outlined her injuries which she said resulted in ongoing head aches and difficulties during a pregnancy. She still suffered occasional back pain four years after the accident.
Judge Fergus awarded Ms McDonagh €10,000 and costs.
Ms McCarthy said she was in shock and emotionally distressed after the accident. She still suffers pain to her neck and lower back and this is aggravated by housework.
She agreed she had got €17,000 arising from an accident when she was 17 and later she received €20,000 damages from another accident when a steel rail fell on her legs.
Judge Fergus awarded Ms McCarthy €12,000 and costs.
The court was told that Lisa O’Reilly had settled her action for compensation.