Cork woman settles case against 84-year-old driver who knocked her off bike

By Ann O'Loughlin

A 40-year old woman who suffered a severe head injury when she was knocked off her bicycle by an 84-year old driver has settled her High Court action.

Olivia Walsh was in an induced coma for two weeks after the accident and also suffered fractures to her upper body after the accident as she cycled on the main Bandon to Clonakilty Road in Co. Cork two years ago.

Last year at the Cork Circuit Criminal Court, Farmer Denis O'Driscoll of Cashelmore, Bandon, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to careless driving causing serious bodily harm to Ms Walsh at Ballinascarthy on the morning of June 2, 2016.

A garda inspector told the court the pensioner had said he believed a fly had got into his eye, causing a momentary lapse in his concentration as he drove along the road and Mr O'Driscoll only realised he had hit Ms Walsh when he got home and his son saw the damage to his car. The Circuit Criminal Court heard his son drove back along his route and came across the scene of the crash. He then notified gardaí to interview his father, who co-operated fully with their investigation.

Judge Sean O'Donnabhain who was told that Ms Walsh did not wish Mr O'Driscoll to be jailed, imposed a 12 month suspended sentence and disqualified the 84-year-old from driving for 10 years. At that court sitting the judge said it was a cause of concern to him that Mr O'Driscoll could hit someone without realising.

“Given his age, it’s questionable whether he should have been driving,” the judge said adding “I don’t care whether he was certified to drive.”

While he was aware that taking elderly people off the road made them “virtual prisoners” in their homes, the issue of older motorists being involved in crashes “is a problem that will increase in the future”, the judge stated.

In the High Court today, Olivia Walsh, aged 40, of Bahona, Clonakilty, Co Cork, sued Mary O'Driscoll of Cashelmore, Bandon, Cork, the owner of the car and the driver of the car 84-year-old Denis O'Driscoll also of Cashelmore, Bandon, Co Cork, as a result of the accident on June 2, 2016.

It was claimed that Mr O'Driscoll allegedly drove too fast, failed to have any or any adequate proper lookout and failed to see the bicycle Ms Walsh was riding in time or at all.

It was also claimed there was an alleged failure to manage, manoeuvre, steer or otherwise control the vehicle so as to avoid a collision.

Ms Walsh, it was claimed, was greatly shocked by the incident and she was brought to Cork University Hospital. She lost consciousness and had cerebral haemorrhages and skull fractures. She also had facial injuries and an open fracture of her left arm and collarbone.

She remained in intensive care until June 13, 2016.

Before the accident, Ms Walsh said she was ultra-fit and participated in marathons including being the first Irish person to run and complete a course of 230kms across the Amazon jungle.

She had also planned to take part in adventure races in the Artic, Sweden and Denmark.

Liability was admitted in the case which was before the High Court for assessment of damages only.

After talks between the parties, Dr John O'Mahony, SC for Ms Walsh, told Mr Justice Anthony Barr the case had been resolved. He said it would have been a long and complex case but it had been settled and could be struck out.

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