Blaine Murphy, a 25 year old Galway man, who sustained very serious injuries while he was a spectator at a stage of the Galway International Motor Rally in February 2005, has been awarded €199,000 damages by the High Court.
Mr. Murphy was struck by a motor vehicle taking part in the event. He suffered very severe injuries resulting in an above knee amputation of his left leg. He also suffered lacerations to his left upper forearm and left hand resulting in numbness to a finger.
The Defendants who were the County Galway Motor Club Ltd., Motor Sport Ireland, Motor Sport Safety Team and Brian Melia all denied liability and pleaded contributory negligence on the part of Mr. Murphy.
An engineer on behalf of Mr. Murphy told the Court that Mr. Murphy and his friends had not been warned about the area from which they were observing the rally when the accident occurred and nobody had tried to stop them going there. There was nothing to indicate to the group that they were viewing the rally from a prohibitive or dangerous location. His opinion was that the organisers of the rally had not taken proper and reasonable precautions for the safety of persons attending the rally as spectators. He said the area should have been cordoned off and marked as a no go area.
The Defendants pleaded contributory negligence on the part of the Plaintiff who, they said, should have taken greater care for his own safety and should not have walked with his friends to an area so close to the crest in the road where the accident occurred.
Giving judgement, Mr. Justice McGovern preferred the evidence of the Plaintiff’s engineer over the Defendants but assessed the Plaintiff’s own proportion of responsibility at 2/3 rd’s and the Defendant’s responsibility at 1/3 rd. The case against Mr. Brian Melia was dismissed as there was no evidence of negligent driving.
The Plaintiff had to undergo two amputation procedures with all the consequent pain and trauma in between the operations and the Judge assessed damages as follows –
• Pain and suffering to date – €100,000
• Pain and suffering for the future – €100,000
• Loss of earnings to date – €40,000
• Loss of earnings in the future – €175,000
• Future costs associated with the Plaintiff’s prosthesis – €170,000
• Other agreed special damages – €12,498
The total award was €597,498 and as the Plaintiff is entitled to 1/3rd of the above damages he was awarded a sum of €199,166.