A mother-of-three who suffered a panic attack and soft tissue injuries after a minor collision has been awarded €20,000 in damages.
Ann Louise Mongan, with an address of Springlawn, Co Longford, was travelling in a car with her husband Joseph Mongan and her mother Margaret Lawrence when an incident occurred on the main street in Longford town on July 19, 2018.
Longford Circuit Court heard how Ms Mongan was involved in three previous road traffic accidents – in 2008, 2012 and 2015 – and received compensation payouts for each of them after suffering back, neck, hip and shoulder injuries.
She said that at the time of the crash in 2018, her injuries from the previous collisions had completely healed.
In this case, she claimed that the defendant, driver Ciaran Grimes, pulled out at a junction on Great Water Street and collided with their vehicle.
Details of how the accident occurred were disputed by the parties, both of whom were insured by Axa Insurance.
Mr Grimes claimed Ms Mongan, who was driving her husband’s car at the time, was stopped at the top of a yellow box on the main street, beckoned him to pull out onto the road, but then accelerated into his vehicle.
Ms Mongan denied she gestured at him to pull out, stating in her evidence that when she learned how to drive she was told “not to give heed to anyone who gives hand signals, as that’s not the rules of the road.”
She said the car started to roll back after the collision and her husband pulled up the handbrake. She said she suffered a panic attack at the scene and her anxiety has worsened since.
Medical reports stated she suffered soft tissue injuries to her right shoulder and lower back. She had difficulty getting into the bath due to the pain, and said Longford Co Council had to install a shower in her house because of this.
As she was a learner driver at the time and no ‘L’ plates were displayed, she received two penalty points and a fine following the accident.
Joseph Mongan, who was in the front passenger seat, said he didn’t see the collision as he wasn’t paying attention. He said his wife “made no gesture”. He claimed he got out of the vehicle and Mr Grimes apologised.
In his evidence, Mr Grimes denied saying sorry and claimed Ms Mongan beckoned him with her hand.
“When I was pulling out I heard the car rev up and I looked again and could see her coming for me, so I stopped and let the car roll back a bit, and that’s when the collision happened. I didn’t apologise.
“He [Mr Mongan] got out of the vehicle and had his phone in his hand and I said: ‘This is a f**king scam.’”
Under cross-examination by the plaintiffs’ counsel, Mr Grimes was asked if he reported his allegations of a scam to gardaí or his insurer.
Mr Grimes said he “believed” he did.
It was put to him that there was no mention of any such allegations in any correspondence, or any record that he raised concerns about this. The allegation that Ms Mongan gestured at him to pull out was first mentioned in July 2020 when the defence was filed.
The court heard how repair damages of €2,100 were paid out for the damage to Mr Mongan’s car under Mr Grimes’s insurance policy.
Engineer Kevin Brandon gave evidence that the damage was consistent with that of a low-to-moderate impact. He said there was no stop sign on Great Water Street and that drivers have to give the right of way to the main road.
“Vehicles coming from Water Street would have to edge out usually,” he said.
Judge Karen Fergus said she was satisfied the accident happened in the manner the plaintiff alleged. She said she believed Mr Grimes would have alerted the insurer and gardaí straight away if he believed Ms Mongan beckoned him.
Ms Mongan, who visited her GP 10 times and experienced symptoms for 18 months after the accident, was awarded general damages of €20,000 together with special damages of €795.