Ryan v Gill

CourtHigh Court
JudgeMr. Justice Meenan
Judgment Date03 May 2019
Neutral Citation[2019] IEHC 425
Docket Number[2016 No. 9858 P]
Date03 May 2019

[2019] IEHC 425


Meenan J.

[2016 No. 9858 P]


Personal injuries – Loss – Damage – Plaintiff seeking damages – Whether the plaintiff was entitled to general damages

Facts: The plaintiff, Ms Ryan, on 26 December 2014, was a back-seat passenger in a motor vehicle being driven by the defendant, Mr Gill, when it was involved in a collision. As a result of the collision, the plaintiff sustained personal injuries, loss and damage. The plaintiff was wearing a seatbelt at the time and liability was not in issue.

Held by the High Court (Meenan J) that, in assessing damages, it had regard to the prognosis for the plaintiff as stated by Mr Rice and Dr O’Sullivan; this prognosis was, at best, very guarded. Meenan J noted that the plaintiff was only twenty years of age and that the plaintiff would probably be able to adjust her life so as to reduce the effects of the recurring neck pain, upper back pain and headaches. However, Meenan J noted that the plaintiff’s circumstances may change over the coming years and that it may be that she will be unable to make those adjustments. As such, Meenan J held that the plaintiff was entitled to general damages representing pain and suffering to date and into the future.

Meenan J held that, having applied Nolan v Wirenski [2016] 1 IR 461, Payne v Nugent [2015] IECA 268, BD v Minister for Health and Children [2019] IEHC 173 and having had regard to the Book of Quantum, the age of the plaintiff and the effects which the injuries have had on her and would continue to have on her, in particular, on her working, social and recreational life, he assessed general damages as being: (i) €45,000 to date; and (ii) €45,000 into the future. Meenan J added €2,115.11 agreed special damages. Meenan J held that he would therefore make a decree in favour of the plaintiff for €92,115.11.

Relief granted.

JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Meenan delivered on the 3rd day of May, 2019

On 26 December 2014 the plaintiff was a back-seat passenger in a motor vehicle being driven by the defendant when it was involved in a collision. A photograph of the motor vehicle taken after the collision illustrates the severe nature of the impact given the extensive damage shown. As a result of the collision, the plaintiff sustained personal injuries, loss and damage. The plaintiff was wearing a seatbelt at the time and liability is not in issue.


The plaintiff was born on 7 December 1998, was sixteen years of age at the time of the accident and is now twenty.


Following the accident, the plaintiff was transferred by ambulance to the Accident and Emergency Department of University Hospital Limerick. The plaintiff had a Glasgow coma scale of 8/15. On the Glasgow coma scale, a reading of 3/15 would represent a person being almost entirely non-responsive so it can be seen that, at that stage, there were serious concerns for the welfare of the plaintiff. She was intubated for a number of hours. Whilst in hospital, the plaintiff developed a severe migraine and became quite agitated. She developed some numbness in her right upper and lower limbs. The plaintiff has no recollection of the accident and was discharged from hospital on 29 December 2014.

Personal Injuries

A CT scan of the plaintiff's brain showed no evidence of a brain injury. The plaintiff's injuries consisted of neck and upper back pain. She has also suffered from recurrent headaches in the right fontal and temporal area since the accident and these headaches have been accompanied by photophobia. Prior to the accident, the plaintiff did suffer from migraines during her childhood years. She had not, however, experienced any such migraine for approximately two to three years prior to the accident. The plaintiff further sustained an abrasion to her right tibia and while this has since healed it has resulted in a slight discolouration which can become more apparent following a shower or exposure to the sun.

Medical evidence

There was a considerable amount of medical evidence available to the Court, in particular evidence on behalf of the plaintiff. There were a number of agreed medical reports which I have considered but I will concentrate on the evidence given by Mr. John Rice, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr. Sean O'Sullivan, Consultant Neurologist, and Dr. Alex Stafford, Consultant Radiologist, on behalf of the plaintiff. The Court additionally heard from Mr. Brian O'Keeffe, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, also on behalf of the plaintiff. On behalf of the defendant, the Court heard evidence from Dr. Brian J. Spillane, Sports and Orthopaedic Physician.


Mr. Rice saw the plaintiff on numerous occasions between August 2016 and March 2019. He found that there was an overall normal range of movement of her cervical spine but that both the touching of the trapezius muscles at the end range of lateral flexion and rotation of her head and neck resulted in pain and tenderness. Given the length of time her symptoms have persisted, Mr. Rice reached the conclusion that the plaintiff has developed a chronic pain syndrome with an established pain pattern. Mr. Rice was satisfied that his findings were consistent with the various MRI's carried out on the plaintiff which revealed a loss of lordosis in the cervical spine region and minor left sided torticollis. These findings are consistent with ongoing muscle spasms resulting in the symptoms described by the plaintiff. Mr. Rice gave a very guarded prognosis for the plaintiff.


Dr. O'Sullivan is an experienced and highly qualified neurologist. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers and is the author...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT