CourtHigh Court
JudgeMr. Justice Diarmuid B. O'Donovan
Judgment Date30 July 2004
Neutral Citation[2004] IEHC 147
Docket NumberHC 277/04
Date30 July 2004





[2004] IEHC 147

HC 277/04
No. 16113 P/2001



Tort - Negligence - Personal injuries - Road traffic accident - Damages - Assessment

Facts: The plaintiff's claim was for damages for personal injuries sustained in a road traffic accident. The defendants admitted liability and the claim proceeded as an assessment of damages only.

Held by O'Donovan J. in awarding the plaintiff the sum of Eur118,393 and costs that the plaintiff was entitled to Eur50,000 for general damages, Eur50,000 for general damages in the future and special damages. While there was a physical reason for some of the plaintiff's complaints, there was no physical reason for the vast majority of the balance of the ongoing complaints.

Reporter: R.W.


Judgment of Mr. Justice Diarmuid B. O'Donovan delivered on the 30th day of July, 2004


The plaintiff in this case, Rosaleen Lyden, is a married lady now nearly 52 years of age, having been born on the 7 th day of August, 1952. She resides with her husband, who is a taxi driver, at Shercock, Co. Cavan, and they have four children ranging in age from 32 years to 16 years.


Prior to the events which gave rise to this claim, Rosaleen Lyden was, as they say, a lady of many parts. She operated a Bed & Breakfast business from her home, did some part-time taxi work and, generally speaking, lead a very active life, in that, she was accustomed to walking five miles a day and, indeed, in the relatively recent past participated in a number of mini-marathons. She played indoor bowls, had an interest in the theatre and had just completed an exam which entitled her to receive an international transport licence which entitled her to manage a transport business which it was intended that her husband was going to operate.


Rosaleen Lyden comes to court seeking damages for injuries which she suffered in a traffic accident in which she was involved, through no fault of her own, on the public highway near Kings Court in the Co. of Cavan on the 9 th day of June, 2000. On that day, while driving her own car, Mrs. Lyden was confronted by two oncoming cars which approached her side by side; one of them being on her side of the road; in other words on its incorrect side of the road. As the two cars approached, Mrs. Lyden noticed that the respective drivers were looking at each other rather than at the road in front of them and, accordingly, to get out of the way of the car which was no her side of the road, she pulled into the left and stopped. However, notwithstanding that manoeuvre, her car was struck violently by one of the oncoming cars which, apparently, was also in collision with the other oncoming car and the end result was that all three cars were so badly damaged that they had to be written off. One of the consequences of the collision was that Mrs. Lyden was struck on the right side of her face by the wing mirror of her car. Not surprisingly, the defendants have admitted liability for the above occurrence and Mrs. Lyden's claim proceeded as an assessment of damages only.


Mrs. Lyden told me that, quite understandably, she was very shocked by what had happened and, indeed, so shocked that she vomited and soiled herself and was so embarrassed by her condition that she asked her husband, who had been called to the scene, to take her home to clean herself up rather than attending a doctor. However, shortly afterwards, she became conscious that the right side of her face was very painful, that some of her teeth were loose, that her vision was blurred and that she had double vision, that she experienced dizziness and pains in her head and experienced pain in her neck, shoulders, chest, lower back, right knee and right ankle. She said that she was very upset and had the feeling that there was something in her eye though, subsequently, she was referred to the Eye & Ear hospital where she was examined by an eye specialist who, apparently, advised her that she had not suffered a serious injury to her eye and who prescribed drops which, apparently, had the effect of settling down the symptoms which she had been experiencing in her eyes. Nevertheless, for some time after her accident, she experienced blurring in her right eye and what she described as "electric shocks" in the eye which persisted for some time. Other sequelae of her injuries of which Mrs. Lyden complained were headaches and shooting pains in her jaw. She said that the pain in her back radiated into her right knee and right ankle and that the pain in her neck radiated into her arms. She complained that her hair fell out; that she became nervous and afraid to drive a car and very depressed. Furthermore, she experienced nightmares, flashbacks of her accident and was given to bouts of crying.


On the day following her accident, Mrs. Lyden attended her general practitioner, Dr. Kieran McMahon, who prescribed painkillers and, thereafter, Mrs. Lyden has been referred, as I calculate, to some twelve medical specialists, including an orofacial pain specialist, two chronic pain specialists, a rheumatologist, an orthopaedic surgeon, two psychiatrists, two physiotherapists, a psychologist and a rehabilitation consultant. These specialists have initiated and prescribed a variety of treatments and medication to which Mrs. Lyden has been subjected during the last four years; treatment which included:


(a) painkilling medication, antidepressant medication, anticonvulsant medication, sleeping tablets and medication to counter stomach problems associated with the ingestion of the other medication, (as I interpret her evidence, even to the present day, Mrs. Lyden continues to avail of most, if not all of that medication),


(b) the use of a bite splint to counter the problems with her left jaw,


(c) a vast amount of physiotherapy, (sometimes as frequently as two to three times a week), which was extremely painful, with an obligation to perform home exercises prescribed by her physiotherapist,


(d) painkilling injections administered by her G.P., by Dr. Dermot Canavan, the orofacial specialist and by Dr. Hugh Gallagher, one of the pain specialists, who treated her, (the injections administered by Dr. Gallagher included Stellate Ganglion Blocks to the neck which, according to the plaintiff, were...

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