Boy secures €5.5milion settlement

Tue, Jul 3, 2012, 01:00

A young boy who is quadriplegic after being hit by a car near his home has secured €5.5million in settlement of his High Court action.

Approving the settlement for nine year old Ian Cusack today, Ms Justice Mary Irvine again urged the introduction of a statutory scheme for periodic payments for victims of catastrophic injuries aimed at ensuring all their future care needs will be met.

The current system of lump sum payments means “we are not protecting the welfare of the young and most vulnerable in society”, she said.

Ian was just five years old when the accident happened at Ballybrown, Clarina, Co Limerick, on September 25th 2008.

His mother Oorla (sic) told the court the settlement meant the family would not be “at the mercy of the HSE” in seeking basic equipment and facilities for Ian who requires continuous care.

Patrick Hanratty SC, for the child, said, on the day of the accident, Ian, then in senior infants, was leaving home with his mother to go to a dancing class at his school.

His mother returned briefly to the house to change something and Ian had uncharacteristically crossed the road by himself with the family dog, counsel said. He made it to the far pavement but then appeared to have bent down, possibly to pet the dog.

It was believed the boy’s head may have protruded slightly into the roadway as he bent down when the collision occurred, counsel said. Liability was an issue in the case, he added.

“Doctors did not think he would survive the accident, but here he is four years later,” counsel said.

Through his mother, Ian had sued the driver of the car, Niamh Cusack, of Carraig, Clarina, Co Limerick, claiming, among other matters, she failed to pay attention to what she was doing. The claims were denied.

Ian suffered catastrophic injuries leaving him a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, it was claimed. He is completely dependent, cannot speak and is prone to spasms.

In July 2010, he was admitted to a respite facility, the St Joseph’s Foundation in Charleville, Cork, after his parents lobbied government representatives, it was also claimed.

His counsel said it was intended that St Joseph’s, which is funded by the HSE and through charitable donations, should be a long term home for children but funding has been reduced, as have staff numbers, so he can only be cared for there during the week.

Oorla Cusack told the court, on the day of the accident, Ian was “taken from” herself and her husband John and their lives had been in turmoil since with one crisis after another.

His 11-year-old sibling Jack, who has autism, lost a brother who had been an anchor in his life, she said. “We were a very happy family and we were just getting on with our lives when this happened.”

She believed Ian survived the accident because he is “a fighter”.

She was happy with the settlement because it meant the family would not be at “the mercy of the HSE”, she said. “I am not looking for care over and above what he needs. This is not about money but basically about giving him what he deserves.”

“It is a question of the care he needs and not wondering is the HSE going to cut more services. It is never going to be enough, but we can sleep at night, he gets what he needs and there’s no more fighting for wheelchairs and sheets for beds and proper nappies not plastic ones.”

Ms Cusack also said she and her husband had had a baby girl, Sophie, in 2009 and she was “a blessing”.