€365,000 award mainly over alleged negligence after crash


A 13-YEAR-OLD girl has secured €365,000 in a High Court settlement mainly over the allegedly negligent treatment she received in hospital following a car crash.

Áine Marie O’Neill was left with one leg shorter than the other allegedly because of a “radical change” in the treatment regimen she was put under when taken to Tralee General Hospital, Kerry.

Through her mother, Deirdre O’Neill, Tullahinell, Ballylongford, Co Kerry, she sued the driver of the other car involved in the crash, Séamus Danaher, Church Street, Glin, Co Limerick, the HSE, and two consultant orthopaedic surgeons at Tralee Hospital, Mohammed Ashrad Khan and Michael J Murphy.  The settlement comprised €55,000 against Mr Danaher and €310,000 against the HSE.

It was alleged a four-wheel drive vehicle driven by Mr Danaher drove on to the wrong side of the road and struck head-on a car in which Áine was a back-seat passenger, near Ballylongford on January 9th, 2003.  She was nearly four at the time and suffered a serious injury to her left leg.

She was taken by ambulance to Tralee General Hospital where she underwent treatment for about two weeks. She then went under the care of Mr Khan because the initial treating surgeon was going on holidays.

On the advice of Mr Khan and Mr Murphy, Ms O’Neill reluctantly agreed to surgery on her daughter’s leg after being told that without it she would have a limp for the rest of her life, it was claimed.

After the surgery, Ms O’Neill was told by Mr Murphy that neither he nor Mr Khan had ever carried out such a procedure before, which Ms O’Neill found very worrying, it was claimed.

Immediately after the surgery, the girl was screaming in agony and following ongoing complaints from her mother and aunt, who is a nurse,  the plaster cast on her leg was removed to reveal two significant areas of skin necrosis and ulceration, it was claimed.

Áine Marie was transferred to Cork University Hospital, and following 71 days in hospital she was discharged, having been recorded as having developed a left leg shortening of two centimetres, a limp and a deformity to her left ankle and thigh bone, the High Court was told.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine told Ms O’Neill she believed the €365,000 settlement was a good one.  It included €240,000 for special damages, for which the Supreme Court had set a ceiling of €400,000.

If the court awarded more than €240,000,  it would be appealed and Áine could get less than that figure, the judge said.