Woman ‘nearly left for dead’ after being struck by iron bars settles action

High court told woman hit by bars protruding from passing trailer while she walked in west Cork

Frances O Driscoll  of Burgatia, Rosscarbery, Co Cork,  leaving the Four Courts   after she settled her  High Court action. Photograph: Collins Courts

Frances O Driscoll of Burgatia, Rosscarbery, Co Cork, leaving the Four Courts after she settled her High Court action. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A woman who suffered catastrophic injuries when she was struck by iron bars protruding from a passing trailer while out for a morning walk has settled her High Court action.

Frances O Driscoll, who had been an active, energetic lady, has been left with irreversible brain damage, her counsel Dr John O’Mahony SC said.

He told Mr Justice Michael Hanna Mrs O’Driscoll was walking at Causeway, Rosscarbery, west Cork, when metal bars on a passing trailer became loose and hit her on the legs, knocking her on her face to the ground.

Ms O’Driscoll (59), a mother of three, Burgatia, Rosscarbery, sued Michael Herlihy, Rosscarbery, the driver of the jeep and trailer, and Claramore Construction Ltd, Claramore, Millstreet, Co Cork, Mr Herlihy’s employers and owners of the jeep and trailer.

She also sued the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland as Mr Herlihy did not have a valid insurance policy at the time of the accident in 2016.

It was claimed there was failure to secure the iron bars adequately or at all and the bars were negligently, improperly and carelessly transported.

At the opening of the case on Wednesday, Mr Justice Hanna was told liability was admitted and it was for assessment of damages only.

On Thursday, after talks between the sides, Dr O’Mahony told the judge the case had been settled. Ms O’Driscoll will also get the costs of the proceedings from the MIBI.

Mr Justice Hanna congratulated the parties on reaching a settlement and wished Ms O’Driscoll well for the future.

A jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court had acquitted Mr Herlihy last year on a charge of dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm to Ms O’Driscoll on April 16th 2016, at Causeway, Rosscarbery. He was found guilty of failing to take adequate precautions to prevent a load falling from a vehicle and fined €500 for that offence.

‘Nearly left for dead’

When opening the High Court case, Dr O’Mahony said there were 12 iron bars, twenty feet long, in the trailer and they were protruding about four feet from the rear. The bars became loose and protruded from the side of the trailer, Ms O’Driscoll was struck in the lower limbs and fell face down on the pathway, he said.

She suffered appalling injuries, was in hospital for five months, and is left with permanent sequela from which she will never recover, he said. She had enjoyed life with “great gusto” and her life pattern has been catastrophically and negatively impacted.

Garda Joan O’Sullivan, of Clonakilty Garda station, said she saw paramedics treating Ms O’Driscoll at the scene and there was a lot of blood.

She said Michael Herlihy told her he was bringing the steel bars home where he was laying a foundation for a wall.

There were twelve steel bars and one ratchet strap securing them. There were other ratchet straps which could have been used and she thought the strapping was not adequate and “was dangerous”, she said.

In evidence, Ms O’Driscoll said she is “not the same Frances”. “They say I was nearly left for dead, they should have let me die, I wouldn’t have to cope.”

She used to love her job as a pharmacy assistant for the last 41 years and loved to walk, swim and dance, she said.

“I miss it all, I miss it terribly,” she said.