Young girl left with scar after crash is awarded €25,000

June 12, 2024

A young Donegal girl who was left with facial scarring for over two years following a road traffic accident has been awarded €25,000 in damages.

The award was approved at Letterkenny Circuit Court.

The court heard that the girl was aged four-and-a-half when the accident occurred in August, 2021. The girl is now aged seven and was a rear-seat passenger when the car in which she was travelling was involved in an accident.

Mr Declan McHugh BL, for the plaintiff, told the court that another vehicle came across the road and struck the plaintiff’s car which was ‘almost at a stop’.

The car being driven by the girl’s father struck a metal railing at the roadside. Mr McHugh said the girl, who plays a range of sports and is ‘a very active young girl’, was frightened by the experience.

She suffered injuries, including scrapes and marks to her cheek. She also sustained psychological injuries.

An offer of €12,200 from PIAB was made, but was rejected. After negotiations at Sligo High Court, an updated offer of €25,000 was made.

Mr McHugh said the offer was rejected after the girl’s mother sought legal advice.

Plastic surgeon Matt McHugh examined the child in January 2022 and noted two small scars and it would take longer for a final prognosis, while a psychiatrist felt that, in December 2021 – four months post-accident, the girl was experiencing adjustment disorder.

A GP examined her the day after the accident and noted lacerations on the cheek. A further review saw the GP recommend a consultation with a clinical psychologist.

A consultant psychiatrist who assessed the girl in April of this year noted that the girl has a fear of going to the bathroom unaccompanied; something that didn’t manifest itself early on. The psychiatrist said this was something that recently came into play and is still an issue for the girl, who was initially reluctant to go to bed alone, but she now has a good bedtime routine.

The girl had a reluctance to travel in the car with her father for a time after the incident while she had experienced distress travelling on open roads.

The girl was assessed as having ‘largely resolved symptoms of psychiatric disorders’. It was the opinion of the psychiatrist that ‘everything has resolved and it’s time to move on’.

Mr McHugh said that there were two central issues: the psychiatric problems and the facial disfigurement. He said PIAB assessed the injury as being ‘moderate’ but told the court that the scars were noticeable for over two years.

Judge John Aylmer approved the €25,000 offer and directed that the sum be paid into court within three weeks.