A judge has approved the settlement of a claim for a fatal injury caused by a drunk driver relating to an accident that happened almost ten years ago.
In December 2006, thirty-one year old Martin McDonagh was fatally injured in a single-car accident on the Kilgarvan-Killarney road. Martin was the front seat passenger in a car driven by his brother – Thomas – that, at the time, was being pursued by the Garda at a distance after it had been reported that the car was being dangerously driven.
Thomas McDonagh was arrested and, after it was found he had been driving with excess alcohol in his system, without a license or insurance, charged with dangerous driving causing death. He was given a three-year prison sentence by the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee in 2008 after the court heard that Martin was the third member of the family to be fatally injured in a car crash.
Martin left a widow – Anne Marie – and five children. On behalf of one of the children – Melissa – Anne Marie made a claim for a fatal injury caused by a drunk driver against the Motor Insurers´ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) – an organization that pays injury compensation to the victims of accidents and their families when a negligent driver is uninsured or untraceable.
Liability for the accident was not in doubt due to the custodial sentence delivered by Tralee Circuit Criminal Court, and an offer of settlement was made amounting to €15,000. As the claim for a fatal injury caused by a drunk driver had been made on behalf of a child, the offer had to be approved by a judge before the claim could be concluded.
The approval hearing was held at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, where Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was told the circumstances of the accident. Melissa´s counsel also told Judge Groarke that, if the claim for a fatal injury caused by a drunk driver went to a full hearing, the settlement of the claim might be reduced because Martin had got into his brother´s car knowing he was drunk and had failed to wear his seat belt.
Judge Groarke approved the €15,000 settlement of the claim for a fatal injury caused by a drunk driver and closed the hearing by expressing the court´s deep sympathy to Anne Marie and her family.