Man injured in crash entitled to judgment for any damages

Van was driven by uninsured man who was disqualified from driving at time of crash

A man injured when his van, which was being driven by an uninsured man, crashed is entitled to judgment for any damages that may be awarded.

John (Jack) O'Brien, Mullinganstown, Delvin, Westmeath, is entitled to judgment in his claim for damages, if any, against the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland, which compensates victims of uninsured drivers, Mr Justice Daniel Herbert said.

The judgment, to be dealt with later, will also be against the driver, John O’Reilly (31), Scurlogstown, Delvin, a brother of Mr O’Brien’s partner, Irene.

Mr O’Reilly was near the end of a three-year driving ban at the time of the crash and had what the judge described as a “deplorable” record of road traffic offences.


The court heard the crash occurred in a cul-de-sac leading to a farmyard on the Athboy-Clonmellon Road in the early hours of February 20th, 2007. Mr O’Brien told an insurance investigator he had gone to a pub that Monday night, February 19th, on his way home after work and drank eight to 10 pints of Guinness and a few shorts.

He said he fell asleep in his van and the last thing he remembered was that he woke up on the road.

The van, which had tanks of diesel and petrol in the rear for the purposes of Mr O’Brien’s work, hit a ditch and burst into flames after Mr O’Brien was thrown from it.

Mr O’Brien’s partner, Ms O’Reilly, who earlier got a phone call to pick him up, met Mr O’Brien and Mr O’Reilly on the road. Mr O’Brien was taken to hospital.

Mr Justice Herbert rejected a claim on behalf of Mr O’Brien he had been struck in a hit and run while walking towards home before his partner met him on the road.

The judge said he was satisfied Mr O’Reilly was driving the van although Mr O’Reilly’s evidence was evasive and “even mendacious”. There was also concerted action by several members of Mr O’Reilly’s family to shelter him from the insurance investigator and an investigating garda, neither of whom succeeded in interviewing him.

However, the judge said, there was no evidence of collusion between Mr O’Reilly and Mr O’Brien. The “total amnesia” which Mr O’Brien suffered must, on the balance of probabilities, have been due to alcohol and not trauma as there was no hospital record of him suffering concussion or cranial injuries, the judge said.

The judge said he found accounts of the events of the night given by Ms O’Reilly and her sister Celine were not credible. There had been “an embroidery of the facts” arising from too much consideration and discussion of the events of the night, he said.