An award of compensation for a pedestrian hit by a car has been reduced by a judge in Belfast to account for the plaintiff´s contributory negligence.
Stacey McCaughey was walking along the Carrickmannon Road in Ballygowan on 26th September 2010, after an evening out with some friends at the nearby Chestnut Inn, when she was hit by a car driven by Brian Mullan.
Twenty-four year old Stacey was taken to hospital where she remained in intensive care for four days suffering from a frontal lobe contusion, a spinal injury and multiple fractures. Despite receiving prompt medical attention, Stacey suffered brain damage from which she suffers moods swings, headaches and memory loss.
After seeking legal advice from a solicitor, Stacey – who also has significant facial scarring – claimed compensation for a pedestrian hit by a car on the grounds that Mullan had been driving too quickly along the unlit road.
Mullan disputed the claim on the basis that the group had been very drunk and wandering across the road with no regard for their own safety. A forensic engineer confirmed the driver´s version of events that he had swerved to avoid the main body of friends, but could not avoid hitting Stacey.
As liability was contested, the claim for compensation for a pedestrian hit by a car went to the Belfast High Court, where Mr Justice O´Hara heard evidence from both parties, the forensic engineer and the police – who confirmed that Mullan had been sober on the night of the accident.
The judge agreed with Stacey that Mullan had been driving too fast in the conditions and awarded her £110,000. However, the judge then told Stacey that he was reducing her award of compensation for a pedestrian hit by a car by 60 percent to £44,000 – explaining that she had failed to take her own safety into account “by walking in the middle of a dark, unlit road while drunk and incapable of being alert to traffic”.