Whiplash injuries in low-impact accidents have become a social disease, court told

Promising young soccer star awarded €11,350 damages for injuries

Lauren Keeler  had undergone an MRI scan of her lumbar spine, which had proved normal, and had afterwards been treated by way of a lumbar spinal rehabilitation therapy programme comprising physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

Lauren Keeler had undergone an MRI scan of her lumbar spine, which had proved normal, and had afterwards been treated by way of a lumbar spinal rehabilitation therapy programme comprising physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

 

Whiplash injuries in low-impact accidents had become a social disease, consultant orthopaedic surgeon Garry Fenelon told the Circuit Civil Court on Wednesday in a claim involving young Peamount soccer star Lauren Keeler.

In awarding the 20-year-old €11,350 damages for back and neck injuries, Judge John O’Connor said he did not believe her injuries were still ongoing following the January 2016 accident when she was a sixth-year student.

He had heard she was a promising young footballer and had seen a video of her scoring a goal for her team shortly after the accident. He had been told she had undergone physiotherapy both before and after the match in which she had scored.

Judge O’Connor told Keeler’s barrister Mark J Byrne that although the incident had been a very low impact one he was satisfied an accident had occurred and that Ms Keeler had been injured.

The court had been told that Ms Keeler, of Cleggan Avenue, Ballyfermot, Dublin 10, had been a front-seat passenger in her mother’s car on January 22nd, 2016 when it had been rear-ended at Station Road, Clondalkin, Dublin.

Keeler, who claimed her football training and playing had been put on hold for a period after the accident, had sued Axa insured Mark Sheridan, the owner of the car that had rear ended her mother’s car.

She had undergone an MRI scan of her lumbar spine, which had proved normal, and had afterwards been treated by way of a lumbar spinal rehabilitation therapy programme comprising physiotherapy and hydrotherapy.

Judge O’Connor refused an application by counsel for Axa to dismiss Keeler’s claim should the court consider that she had given false evidence. The judge said he did not believe Ms Keeler had given false evidence to the court.

During the hearing, Mr Fenelon, who had been called by Axa to give evidence, said she had suffered a soft tissue strain to her lower back in January 2016 and it was difficult to account for her claim that she still had ongoing symptoms almost three years after the accident. Whatever ongoing complaints she might have were not in his view related to the 2016 road traffic accident.

He said people involved in low impact accidents expected to have an injury whether they had or had not. In his view such “injuries”had become a social disease.