Passenger who sustained brain injury in crash settles case for €10m

Man not wearing seatbelt when learner driver, who had been drinking, hit ditch

William White of Dunmanway, Cork,  leaving the Four Courts on Wednesday. The judge heard Mr White cannot talk or walk and requires 24-hour care. Photograph: Collins Courts

William White of Dunmanway, Cork, leaving the Four Courts on Wednesday. The judge heard Mr White cannot talk or walk and requires 24-hour care. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A young man who sustained a brain injury when the van in which he was a passenger spun out of control as its learner driver, who had been drinking, took a bend, has settled his High Court action for €10 million.

William White, who was sitting between the front seats and was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown out of a window when the driver overcorrected on a bend and hit a ditch twice as they travelled home after a night out.

Thomas Creed SC, for Mr White, told the court that Mr White and the van driver, James Lordan, had been drinking and playing pool for about three hours until 1.30am and then headed home in the van along with two others. The small van struck the ditch twice, counsel said.

The driver and two other passengers emerged unscathed but Mr White suffered a severe head injury.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the settlement reflects that Mr White, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was deemed 45 per cent at fault and the driver was 55 per cent to blame.

Mr White from Dunmanway, Co Cork, was aged 20 when the incident occurred at Inchincurka, Dunmanway, just a few days before Christmas 2013. Mr Justice Cross was told that Mr White could not talk or walk, needed to use a wheelchair and required 24-hour care.

Unconscious

Through his mother, Eleanor, Mr White, of Derrinacahara, Dunmanway, had sued the owner and driver of the van, Mr Lordan (24), Droumdrastil, Dunmanway, over the incident on December 21st, 2013. It was claimed Mr Lordan drove too fast and allegedly failed to have any adequate regard to physical features and conditions prevailing at the time and place of the collision.

Mr White was unconscious when admitted to hospital and a CT scan showed multiple haemhorrhagic brain contusions. He was in a coma for five weeks.

At Cork Circuit Criminal Court four years ago, Mr Lordan pleaded guilty to charges of dangerous driving causing serious harm to Mr White and to drink-driving on December 21st, 2013.

Judge Donagh McDonagh, who said the crash had occurred due to a momentary lapse of concentration, fined Mr Lordan €3,500 and disqualified him from driving for four years and three months. The judge said imprisonment would achieve nothing by way of punishment or rehabilitation of a defendant, who was remorseful and also suffering the consequences of his actions.

‘Changed dramatically’

At the time, Michael White, father of William, told Cork Circuit Criminal Court his son “loved his girlfriend and his life and was very happy”.

“Now his and our lives have changed dramatically as he needs 24-hour a day care now and in to the future,” he said.

Michael White told the High Court On Wednesday his son was making progress and his family saw changes every six months. Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Cross said William White was doing what young men frequently do and unfortunately he now had had to deal with profound consequences. He praised the White family for the care they have given William and wished him and his family well for the future.