Mother and daughter awarded €72,000 after car rear-ending

Judge voices concern at attempt to portray crash as a ‘ready up’

A mother and daughter who suffered soft tissue injuries when a car in which they were passengers rear-ended another vehicle in Wexford town have secured total damages of more than €72,000 from the High Court.

In awarding €35,000 each to Sally Byrne and her mother Breda, plus special damages of €2,460, Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon found both gave credible evidence and suffered injuries after taking a lift “in good faith from a neighbour’s son”.

She also took into account their distress at attempts to portray the accident as a “ready up”.

It was of concern, in terms of the investigation into the accident that, suddenly before a Circuit Court hearing of the case, a decision seemed to have been taken to portray the accident as a “ready up”.


She believed the confusion around this aspect of the case arose "because the accident was simply not investigated properly". She gave judgment on Friday in proceedings by Sally Byrne (59), Whitemill Road, Wexford, and her mother Breda (79) against Edward McCormack, Bishops Park, Wexford, the driver of the car in which they were passengers, and Aviva Insurance Company Ltd, as Mr McCormack's insurer, over the accident on Windmill Road, Wexford, on June 14th 2014.

Both women had been shopping when they accepted a lift home from Mr McCormack, whose parents lived on their road.

Ms Justice O’Hanlon said there was no dispute Mr McCormack’s car rear-ended another vehicle driven by Billy Cullenmore whose vehicle had already suffered damage from a bang to it the previous week.

The judge said the accident happened on a crowded street in Wexford town, gardaí were called to the scene and Mr Cullenmore’s car was later deemed a write-off.

The judge noted Mr Cullenmore was not called to give evidence in the Circuit Court and said she found him an “extremely honest and credible” witness whose evidence in the High Court was “crucial”.

Sally Byrne, a mother of five, had given evidence she had worked all her life a a cleaning lady and factory worker, never had a previous claim and was never involved in anything criminal.

Her evidence was Mr McCormack’s mobile phone may have rung and when he went to answer it, the accident occurred and her concern was for her elderly mother in the rear seat. Ms Byrne, who does not drive, said she did not know Mr McCormack well but his parents lived on her street.

Both women said they were unaware of any conviction of him or alleged drug-dealing history.

Breda Byrne’s evidence was she had worked all her life, had no criminal convictions and was very shocked when the accident happened and knew she was injured.

The judge accepted medical evidence the women suffered soft tissue injuries. She accepted Sally Byrne’s injuries affected the range of duties she could do as a domestic and she had pain and suffering and a loss of amenities of life for at least three years after the accident.

She accepted evidence Breda Byrne’s injuries aggravated pre-existing conditions, especially in the chest and shoulder region, as well as anxiety, and she also suffered loss of amenities of life.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times