A 26 year old woman, who was left irreparably brain damaged after her car was involved in a collision with a truck, has had a 7 million Euro brain injury settlement award approved in the High Court.
Valerie Bourke from Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, had just turned 21 in May 2006, when the red Nissan Micra she was driving between Carrick-on-Suir and Waterford was struck by a truck driven by Patrick Holden of Carigee, County Waterford.
Suffering from catastrophic brain damage, Valerie was taken to the Waterford Regional Hospital. She remained there until April 2007, during which time she was unable to communicate, required twenty four hour care and was fed via a tube.
She was then transferred to the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire and six months later moved to a neuro-rehabilitation centre in England for further assessment of her needs. In December 2008 – two and a half years after the accident – she was able to return home.
Valerie´s parents constructed a special extension to their family home in order to accommodate her special needs but, although Valerie made a little progress with her mobility and cognitive functions, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill at the High Court heard that prospects for Valerie’s future remained limited.
In an case against Patrick Holden and the owner of the truck – Stefan Gilchrist of Piltown, County Kilkenny – it was alleged that their negligent actions were responsible for Valerie´s injuries. Liability was admitted and the case was before Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill for final assessment of damages only.
Announcing the award of just over 7 million Euros, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill said that 4 million Euros was to be put aside for Valerie´s care in the future and that an application was to be made to have Valerie made a ward of court.