Woman hit by train a decade ago settles High Court action for €400,000

Mary Ryan was nine when incident happened on Waterford-Limerick Junction line

A woman who was hit by a train near her home in Co Tipperary as a child a decade ago has settled her High Court action for €400,000.

Mary Ryan was nine-years-old when the incident happened at Tipperary town on the Waterford- Limerick Junction line.

Approving the settlement, reached without admission of liability, Mr Justice Garrett Simons said that if the proceedings were to go to full hearing there was a risk that the award would be less than the €400,000 offered.

This was because the plaintiff, who had a premorbid diagnosis of autism and associated learning disability, might not succeed in persuading the trial judge that there was a causal connection between the 2012 accident and the subsequent health difficulties she suffered, including the onset of epilepsy and a stroke some six years ago, he said.


Ms Ryan (19), of Tipperary town, had through her mother Breda sued Iarnród Éireann and Tipperary County Council over the incident on March 12th, 2012.

Mr Justice Simons said the young woman lives with her parents in a home leased from the council that backs onto a railway line. The claim related to an incident when she made her way through or over a fence at the back of the property and went onto the railway line.

Comatose state

She was hit by a train and suffered significant injuries, the judge noted. Her mother ran to help Mary, who was lying on the tracks and in a comatose state.

As a result of the accident, Ms Ryan suffered a concussion, a collapsed left lung, a fractured right arm and abrasions and lacerations around her legs.

She was rushed to hospital and was admitted to the intensive care unit. She spent a number of days in hospital.

The main allegation in the proceedings was a failure to put in place an appropriate wall or fence between the family home and the railway line or a failure to properly maintain the fencing, said the judge.

Ms Ryan later developed epilepsy and suffered seizures with her mother telling the court there has been a “big change” in her daughter since the accident, said the judge.

Previously, Ms Ryan had been very mobile and enjoyed going out to the town, the shops or the beach. She now rarely leaves the house and it takes two people to mind her, her mother said.

Approval of the court was necessary because the judge was satisfied from the medical evidence that Ms Ryan, who has severe intellectual disabilities and is mostly non-verbal, lacked the mental capacity to formally consent to the settlement.

Increased risk

The “furthest the evidence goes” is to indicate the head injury sustained in the accident, coupled with her premorbid diagnoses, increased the risk of epilepsy. This creates a “plausible” connection between the accident and epilepsy onset, but to succeed at trial causation must be established on the balance of probabilities, he said.

It appears that the balance of medical evidence shows Ms Ryan’s January 2016 stroke, which caused neurological regression and permanent brain injury, was a “significant intervening event”. That balance of evidence finds “no established causal connection” between the injuries sustained in the accident and the stroke itself, said the judge.

The judge said the “significant” settlement amount will help improve Ms Ryan’s day to day circumstances. He said she receives excellent care and support from her parents.