€6.8m settlement for devastating car crash injuries

Tuesday 01 July 2014 23.18
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The court was told Hazel McGarrigle has been singularly fortunate in the family she has
The court was told Hazel McGarrigle has been singularly fortunate in the family she has
Hazel McGarrigle suffered a devastating injury in the crash five years ago
Hazel McGarrigle suffered a devastating injury in the crash five years ago

A music student who suffered a devastating brain injury after her car was rear ended on the way to a Christmas carol service has settled her High Court action for €6.8 million.

Five years after the accident Hazel McGarrigle, who was a masters student of the Cork School of Music, remains minimally conscious, cannot speak or walk and needs 24-hour care.

Ms McGarrigle's vision is also restricted, but her hearing is intact.

Ms McGarrigle, now aged 30, of Drumstevlin House, Donegal town had sued, through her father Noel McGarrigle, the driver of the other car as a result of the accident at Carr's Hill, Carrigaline, Co Cork on 15 December 2009.

Ms McGarrigle was second in line to turn out onto a main road when her car was hit from behind and pushed into the car in front.

The case was before the court for assessment of damages only as liability was conceded.

Ms McGarrigle suffered devastating head injuries and was taken to Cork University Hospital's intensive care unit.

A CT scan showed a right sided subdural haematoma with bleeding in the brain.

In 2010 she was airlifted to Letterkenny General Hospital and her family began looking after her at home after that.

The court was told while Ms McGarrigle was unfortunate in the accident she has been singularly fortunate in the family she has.

Hazel's mother Noeleen McGarrigle told the court during a four-day hearing that her daughter was absorbed in music and loved it from an early age.

She planned to go on to do a PhD in music. At the time of the accident she was researching a contemporary French composer as part of her work.

Her mother told the court that she and Hazel spoke every day by phone and she had talked to Hazel one hour before the accident.

She said her daughter worked with a primary school and was on the way there to conduct the carol service.

An hour later, she said, she received "a very different phone call".

"They did not give us many details. We gathered it was very bad and we drove to Cork," she said.

The McGarrigle family stayed by Hazel's bedside and twice Mrs McGarrigle said they were told their daughter might not make it.

She said Hazel now turns her head when she hears a member of her family and recognises voices and smiles.

"We keep talking to her. She was totally absorbed in music. It was all she wanted to do," she added.

Approving the €6.8m settlement, Mr Justice Sean Ryan said it was a very satisfactory settlement and he praised the "heroism" of her family in the way they have looked after her.

He said because the court had to concentrate on the money and figures it did not mean it did not realise the huge impact of "a tragedy like this" on a family.

He said Hazel had suffered and her career had been shattered, but the settlement was "a very satisfactory outcome to a terrible tragedy".