Settlement of Compensation for Injuries to a Foetus Approved in Court

A settlement of compensation for injuries to a foetus has been approved in court after a judge heard how a girl suffered respiratory distress syndrome at birth due her mother being involved in a car accident two days before she was born

Judge Matthew Deery at the Circuit Civil Court heard how Martina Sheehan from Rathfarnham in Dublin had been driving the family car along Templeroan Road on 13th April 1999, when she was in collision with a vehicle driven by Elaine O’Connor – also from Rathfarnham.

Although neither driver was hurt in the road traffic accident, the shock of the collision was allegedly responsible for Martina going into early onset labour at thirty-six weeks, and two days later delivering her daughter – Aoife – at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin.

The prematurely delivered Aoife immediately went into respiratory distress and was placed on a ventilator in the hospital´s neo-natal intensive care unit, where she remained critically ill for three weeks until she was able to breathe independently.

After seeking legal advice, Martina Sheehan made a claim for compensation for injuries to a foetus on behalf of her daughter; but insurers for Ms O´Connor denied their policyholder´s liability for Aoife´s injuries claiming that pre-term babies were more pre-disposed to respiratory distress and there was no medical evidence to support the claim that the accident was the cause of Aoife´s premature birth.

Furthermore, the insurers claimed, as Aoife had not yet been born she would be ineligible to receive compensation for injuries to a foetus. Nonetheless, solicitors representing Martina and Aoife pursued the claim and, after a lengthy period of negotiation, a settlement of compensation was agreed that would see Aoife receiving €17,800.

Approving the settlement of compensation for injuries to a foetus, Judge Deery said that Martina and Aoife´s solicitors had done a good job in securing a positive outcome as, in the circumstances, proving liability may have been difficult if the case had gone to trial.