Wednesday 23 January 2019

Golfers in car crash that left one with a club stuck in head awarded €50k

Mr Lawless, Mr Moroney and Mr Lynch were all injured
Mr Lawless, Mr Moroney and Mr Lynch were all injured

Three Irish golfers who were injured when the taxi they shared somersaulted into a ravine while they were holidaying in Spain have been awarded more than €50,000 in damages.

Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard in the Circuit Civil Court that one of the men, John Moroney (53), of Drumin, Dunleer, Co Louth, had the shaft of a golf club embedded in the back of his head.

Judge Groarke, applying levels of compensation governed by Spanish law in road traffic accident cases, awarded him €20,700.

He also awarded Mark Lawless (55), of Clostown, Togher, Co Louth, €16,500 and Michael Lynch (59), of Johnstown, Dunany, Togher, €15,660.

Barrister Shane English, for the three friends, had told the court that, shortly after the three-ball had left La Manga Golf Club on the Costa del Sol in September 2010, the taxi went out of control and somersaulted into a seven-metre-deep water run-off ravine.

He said the three golfers had been knocked unconscious in the crash, with Mr Moroney not regaining consciousness until after surgery at Santa Maria hospital to remove the golf shaft from the back of his head.

Mr English told the court that the Spanish taxi driver had taken off very quickly from the golf club and continued to drive at an alarming speed until he hit a crash barrier as he tried to overtake another car.

Mr Moroney said in evidence that the driver had taken off even before any of them had time to put their seat belts on.


Judge Groarke, in a reserved written judgment, said he was required to apply Spanish law, making it mandatory for him to find a numerical value for three headings under which damages were to be calculated.

These set out the number of days each plaintiff was detained in hospital, each of which attracted €67.98; days during which the plaintiff was unable to work, known as "impaired days", at €55.27; and "unimpaired days", which were those days where a plaintiff was on the path to recovery but not yet recovered, at €29.75.

Two Spanish lawyers had earlier assisted the court in explaining the system of calculating the compensation.

Judge Groarke said Mr Moroney sustained the most severe injuries, Mr Lawless had suffered what his doctor described as "significant soft tissue injury", and Mr Lynch clearly had been injured both physically and psychologically and continued to suffer ongoing problems.

He said it was entirely immaterial to his consideration whether the amount of compensation applicable to each of the golfers under Spanish law was commensurate with or bore any relationship to the range of damages a Spanish citizen receiving the same injuries in a traffic accident in Ireland would reasonably expect to receive.

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