A Circuit Civil Court judge has approved a settlement in a pre-birth injuries compensation claim after an agreement was negotiated between the two parties involved.
Judge Matthew Deery approved the settlement after hearing how Aoife Sheehan (14) from Rathfarnham in Dublin was delivered prematurely at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin on 15th April 1999 at only thirty-six weeks.
It had been alleged in the claim for pre-birth injuries compensation that Aoife had been born prematurely due to her mother – Martina Sheehan – having been involved in a car crash two days earlier which was responsible for the early onset of her labour.
After her birth, Aoife suffered from respiratory distress syndrome and was transferred to the intensive care unit where a ventilator was used to control her breathing. Even when it was felt safe to remove the ventilator, Aoife remained in the intensive care unit for a further three weeks.
Through her mother, Aoife made a pre-birth injuries compensation claim against the driver of the car Martina Sheehan had been in collision with – Elaine O’Connor, also from Rathfarnham – alleging that had the accident not occurred, Aoife would not have been born prematurely and suffered from respiratory distress.
Insurers for Ms O´Connor denied their policyholder´s liability and claimed that there was no proof that the car accident was the cause of the early onset of labour and that pre-term babies were more pre-disposed to respiratory distress.
They also stated that, as Aoife was not born at the time of the accident, she was ineligible to receive compensation for her pre-birth injuries. However, after protracted negotiations a settlement of the pre-birth injuries compensation claim was agreed that would see Aoife receiving €17,800.
Approving the settlement, Judge Deery said that – given the circumstances and difficulties proving liability – the settlement was a good one.