Model and personal trainer Zoe Whelan has been awarded €15,000 damages for a shoulder injury she suffered when a cherry picker van reversed into her Audi car near the Five Lamps in Dublin.
The former girlfriend of One Direction star Niall Horan was commended by Judge Jacqueline Linnane in the Circuit Civil Court on Thursday for having made an early disclosure that she had previously settled two road traffic accident claims for €12,500 each.
“All medical reports were fully furnished in relation to Ms Whelan’s previous accidents before this case came to court,” the judge said. “There is no question of anything having been concealed from the defence and I want to make that very clear.”
Judge Linnane told barrister John Nolan, counsel for Ms Whelan, that the court had found her evidence of the December 2017 accident far more compelling than that of two witnesses for Electsol Services Ltd which had claimed she had driven at speed into the back of its cherry picker van which was being used in the repair of street lamps in Dunne Street.
The 25-year-old model, who lives in Clonshaugh, Dublin, told the court she had stopped behind the cherry picker which had been partly blocking the street and was shocked when she saw its reversing lights come on and move backwards.
“I was screaming and pumping the horn but it kept coming and crashed into the front of my car,” Ms Whelan said. “My right arm was fully extended and firmly on the steering wheel as I pumped the horn with my left hand. When it struck my car, my arm was pushed back, injuring my right shoulder.”
Ms Whelan said there was nothing else she could do when she saw the reversing lights come on. She said she had been involved in two previous car accidents which had settled for €12,500 each.
Ms Whelan told the court she did not tell lies, denying defence allegations that it was her who had driven into the back of the cherry picker.
She said Electsol Services owner Pádraig Leavy had spoken to her at the scene of the accident and told her he would prefer that she took her car to a garage in Santry for repair and he would cover the cost. Both had exchanged phone numbers but he had never phoned her despite her numerous attempts to contact him.
She said the front of her Audi car had been damaged and it remained unrepaired as she did not have comprehensive insurance.
Tony Doyle, the driver of the cherry picker, told the court that the reversing lights would have come on when he had put the vehicle into reverse but he had not moved it as he did not have an interior rear mirror and had been awaiting hand signals from Mr Leavy. When there had been no signals he had got out and saw there had been an impact.
Judge Linnane said Ms Whelan had told the court her shoulders had been injured in both of the two previous incidents and the court accepted the December 2017 incident would not have helped her situation.
She was a personal fitness instructor and the judge said she had seen photographs and a video taken from Facebook of Ms Whelan performing strenuous exercises some months after the accident
Ms Whelan had sued Electsol Services Ltd, of Killucan, Co Westmeath, and Dublin City Council for which it had been carrying out subcontract work on street lights.