A MOTHER-OF-THREE who was catastrophically injured when the car her husband was driving and a tractor were in collision on a Cork road has claimed €1m in loss of earnings, the High Court has heard.
Counsel for Cork County Council, Fergus O’Hagan SC, told the High Court that the claim in the case of Olivia Redmond O’Callaghan for €1m in loss of earnings was “extremely spurious” and “goes to the credibility of the entire case”.
In a submission to the court, Mr O’Hagan told Mr Justice Tony O’Connor that, when an application was made to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board in 2013 in this case, there was no claim for loss of earnings, but he said later €744,000 “came out of the blue” and had since escalated to €1m.
Ms Redmond O’Callaghan was left with massive brain damage and needing 24-hour care for the rest of her life after the accident on the old Glanmire to Cork road in 2011. She was aged 28 at the time.
Her counsel, John O’Mahony SC, previously told the High Court that his client, who was pregnant with her third child at the time of the accident, suffered massive brain damage, which has “rendered her totally incapacitated”.
He said she had been left with a “most appalling repertoire of profoundly serious injuries” and did not recognise her children.
Her husband, Myles O’Callaghan, who was driving the car at the time, lost his life in the accident.
Ms Redmond O’Callaghan is suing her late husband’s estate, the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), and Cork County Council.
On the second day of the hearing, Mr Justice O’Connor was told the issue of loss of earnings was a highly contentious aspect of the case.
Counsel for the MIBI, Edward Walsh SC, said Ms Redmond O’Callaghan had not worked for three years before the collision. He said he fully accepted that the case involved one of the most profound injuries you could imagine. However, he said Ms Redmond O’Callaghan had no insight and, he argued, in that case, she was not entitled to general damages, only special damages such as care.
Mr Walsh also contended liability should be heard first in the case.
Ms Redmond O’Callaghan, who is now aged 37, from Gowlane South, Donoughmore, Co Cork, has taken her action through her stepfather, Liam Power.
Against Cork County Council, it is claimed the council constructed a public roadway that was allegedly defective and dangerous to road users.
It is claimed that the road was constructed with a very tight bend, with a radius of curvature that is allegedly below the minimum acceptable standard.
It was further alleged that high vegetation was permitted to grow on the embankment of the road, which allegedly restricted forward visibility, and there was an alleged failure to erect any proper warning signs.
However, Cork County Council claims the collision was caused by the alleged negligence of the late Mr O’Callaghan regarding his driving, speed, care, management, and control of the car in which his wife was a passenger.
In its defence, the MIBI has claimed Ms Redmond O’Callaghan allegedly failed to have any regard for her own safety and permitted herself to be carried in a car for which she allegedly knew there was no valid insurance policy in place.
Mr Justice O’Connor will tomorrow hear further submissions on certain issues around the management of the case, which is expected to last six weeks.