Murphy Family – Fatal Road Traffic Accident. Case Study2019-12-06T09:41:59+00:00

Murphy Family – Case Study – Fatal Road Traffic Accident.

This case is not real and has been created to demonstrate the type of Personal Injury cases that we are currently undertaking at Malcomson Law. The names in this article are fictitious and bare no resemblance to anyone living or dead.

Background Information.

Name: John Murphy.
Age: 39.
Marital Status: Married.
Children: 3 children, (aged 4, 9 and 11).
Occupation: Driver for DEF Beverages Limited.

John was fatally injured in a road traffic accident whilst working as a beverage and dry goods delivery man. The accident occurred when he was approaching a blind bend on the road. He was involved in a head-on collision, with an articulated lorry. The effect of the collision was that John’s vehicle overturned and he was killed instantly.

Initial instructions/advice:
Ann Murphy attended the Malcomson Law office to make a claim in relation to the death of her husband, John.
The first issue to be determined was the party against whom an action should be pursued and which party would be liable for the accident.

How Malcomson Law proceeded: 
We arranged for Engineers to attend the scene of the accident, while the evidence was still untouched. In addition, we took detailed statements from two independent witnesses, who saw the accident as it occurred and also obtained the report of the Garda member who attended at the scene. The engineer’s report stated that in their opinion the driver of the articulated lorry had to have strayed across to the other side of the road and further, that he was travelling at a speed well in excess of the prescribed speed limit.

This was determined due to:
•Fresh skid marks on the road.
•The position of the vehicles after impact as sketched by the Garda.
•The damage to the respective vehicles.
•A tachograph (an implement used to record the vehicles speed and the length of time that it is moving/stationary), which gave an indicator of the speed at which the lorry was travelling.

Letters of claim were written to the driver of the other vehicle and research conducted to ascertain the employer of the driver, as well as the Company registered as owners of the lorry. The Defendants were the driver of the vehicle and his employers. His employers have a vicarious liability i.e. they are directly responsible for the actions of their employees, whilst those employees are engaged in the course of their employment.

Personal Injury Assessment Board:
The Defendants explained their case and presented an application to the Personal Injury Assessment Board. In significant claims of this kind, where complex calculations relating to financial losses to be incurred by Dependents are to be calculated, the Board will often refuse jurisdiction and issue an authorisation. This is a pre requisite to allowing the matter to proceed to Court. This occurred in this instance.

Legal Entitlements:
There were a number of different “Heads of Claim”, which were pursued on behalf of Ann:
•In particular, she was entitled to any dependency losses. As John’s children were quite young, it is to be assumed that they would have been financial dependent upon their father’s earnings until such time as they reach the age of 18, or 23 in the event they entered into full time education.
•Malcomson Law appointed a Careers Expert to ascertain the likely career path of John. He had expressed an interest in setting up his own delivery company and had obtained provisional approval from his local bank to fund set up costs prior to his accident. A forensic accountant was obtained to determine the likely business development of such an enterprise and to quantify the losses caused by his inability to undertake that business venture.
•An Actuarial Report was commissioned to prepare the likely dependency losses that would be sustained, not just by John’s children, but also by his wife, who is no longer in receipt of the earnings which John would have made during in his lifetime.
•John’s wife suffered a severe psychiatric reaction on viewing the aftermath of the accident. Malcomson Law engaged a psychiatrist to review Mary for the purposes of ascertaining whether or not she was suffering from a recognisable psychiatric injury, such as post-traumatic disorder. Also, we prepared detailed legal submissions based on relevant case law to indicate that her psychiatric injuries were sufficiently concurrent to the shock occasioned by learning of her husband’s death in order to allow her to recover compensation.

At the Hearing of the Action, a number of Expert Witnesses delivered evidence in support of the Widows claim:

An engineer.
A vocational assessor.
A psychiatrist.
A forensic accountant.
An actuary.

In addition, the independent witnesses delivered evidence, as did a member of the Gardai.
We issued a witness subpoena to ensure the attendance of all non expert witnesses.
A detailed consultation was organised with all witnesses in advance of the Hearing of the Action.

The injuries suffered by the widow in relation to the psychiatric claim were continually updated throughout the action. Updated particulars of those injuries were served by Malcomson Law upon the Defendants Solicitors. Because of the substantial issue in relation to liability the Defendants also acquired an Engineer and both sides commissioned reports wherein there were contradictory views in relation to liability. Ultimately, the Judge accepted the strong evidence of the independent witnesses and preferred the evidence of our engineer to that of the engineer retained by the defence. The Judge made a substantial award to John’s widow. The result achieved was a delivery of fair and equitable compensation, which brought financial stability and certainty into the lives of Mary and her children after this fatal accident.

If you have been involved in a road traffic accident and you have sustained a personal injury please phone us at 01 8744422 or complete our online inquiry form. A client care executive will be in contact with you. All our client care executive’s are non-lawyers with a considerable track record of helping people through the many difficult issues that arise during the processing of a personal injury claim. They will also organise an appointment with an experienced personal injury solicitor.

Please note that every case is different and that this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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