‘Travel phobia’ mum looks for High Court damages over accident

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

Judge Carroll Moran
A LIMERICK woman who suffers from “travel phobia” arising from a traffic accident in the city four years ago is looking to seek damages in the High Court.

A LIMERICK woman who suffers from “travel phobia” arising from a traffic accident in the city four years ago is looking to seek damages in the High Court.

An application is to come before the county registrar on Monday seeking the transfer from the Circuit Court of Edel Hayes’ civil action against Ian and Patrick Power. Jack Nicholas BL, for the defendants, submitted to Judge Carroll Moran that “mild” physical and psychological injuries suffered by Ms Hayes could not possibly exceed the threshold of €38,000 which is the maximum damages award that can be made in the Circuit Court.

But Judge Moran noted the plaintiff’s claims that the effects of both the physical injuries and the anxiety were “continuing in nature” and gave leave for an application to transfer proceedings to the higher court to be made.

Ms Hayes, a 31-year-old mother-of-one with an address at Shannon Arms, Henry Street, was involved in an accident on the Childers Road on March 4, 2009.

Liability is not an issue in the case and Clare O’Driscoll BL, for the plaintiff, set out injuries suffered by Ms Hayes for which she was seeking damages. These included pain in the neck, shoulder and left arm.

Ms O’Drisoll also referred Judge Moran to a medical report from consultant psychiatrist Dr David Walshe, which dated from July of this year.

Injuries to her shoulder and neck had curtailed her sporting activity and her boxing in particular, which she had completely given up and reverted to a coaching role in.

The report outlined that Ms Hayes had “a travel phobia and avoids long journeys” by car, Ms O’Driscoll said.

She suffered from disturbed sleep and panic attacks and was likely to remain apprehensive of car travel post treatment in the opinion of Dr Walshe.

Mr Nicholas told Judge Moran that Ms Hayes had not been hospitalised after the accident and had been able to return to work. No X-rays had been done and no physiotherapy required, he said.

“If you take the soft tissue injuries at their height, they could be worth €20,000,” Mr Nicholas submitted.

Moving on to the mental injuries, Mr Nicholas said Dr Walshe’s report noted the plaintiff did not suffer from flashbacks or nightmares and had “never been a good sleeper”.

In no way could such injuries equate to a further €18,000, he said.

“The maximum she could achieve would be in the region of €25,000 to €30,000 and I submit it would not reach the jurisdiction of the High Court.”

Judge Moran gave leave for the application to transfer proceedings to the High Court to be heard given Ms Hayes’ case that she continued to suffer the effects of the accident.