Michael Tevlin a 35 year old Plasterer who suffered very serious injuries in a road traffic accident on the 27th of December 2010 has been awarded damages in excess of €364,000 by the Irish High Court.
Mr Tevlin sustained fractures of his pelvis, sternum and ribs and a severe head injury in the accident. He suffered a significant personality change as a result of his head injury and cognitive impairment with memory loss.
The plaintiff issued proceedings against the driver of the vehicle and the MIBI. His claim against the MIBI was for a declaration that they were obliged to satisfy in full any judgement obtained against the driver of the vehicle who was uninsured at the time of the accident.
The MIBI sought to defend the case on the basis that the plaintiff allowed himself to be carried in the vehicle knowing that the driver had consumed alcohol and that as a result he consented to voluntarily being carried in the vehicle when he knew there was a risk of injury.
Evidence was given that the plaintiff and the driver of the vehicle had consumed a number of alcoholic drinks together prior to the accident and had visited a number of public houses. When they were travelling in the same car towards Carrickmocross in Co Monaghan the driver collided in to an oncoming car. It was alleged that the plaintiff had consumed 12 pints of beer and 4 half measures of spirits prior to the accident. The MIBI accepted that the plaintiff was not aware that there was not an approved policy of insurance in force even though the vehicle had displayed what appeared to be a valid insurance disc at the time of the accident. The Defendant sought to escape liability to pay damages to the plaintiff because the plaintiff was allowing himself to be carried by the Defendant when both had clearly consumed a significant amount of alcohol which would have rendered both of them unfit to drive.
The Court held that the degree of fault on the driver whose intoxication was the prime cause of the accident was greater than the contributory negligence of the plaintiff who allowed himself to be carried in the vehicle. The Judge decided that a finding of 35% contributory negligence for this was an appropriate penalty. The plaintiff also failed to wear a safety belt and the Judge added an additional 10% reduction for contributory negligence for this. The total figure for reduction by way of contributory negligence against an award of €662,500 was 45% leaving the MIBI liable for an award in excess of €364,000.
Speaking about this judgement Liam Moloney Naas Solicitor said today “this judgement clearly shows that the Court will not impose an absolute ban on recovering compensation in circumstances where an injured passenger has voluntarily allowed themselves to be carried in a vehicle by a driver they know to be intoxicated. The Court will assess the degrees of fault between the Driver and the passenger depending on the different circumstances of the accident and the case itself.”