A 22-year-old woman who as a child suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was in a car driven by her father which crashed, has settled her High Court action for €15 million.
Monika Kazinska was only 12 years of age and in the front passenger seat after dropping her friend off from a sleepover when the accident happened just two kilometres from her home in Cappoquin, Co Waterford two days before Christmas 2011.
Her father, Marcin Rafal Kazinski of River Glen , Cappoquinn, Co Waterford later pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm and drink-driving outside Cappoquin on December 23rd, 2011.
When he was breathalysed by gardaí, Mr Kazinski was just over three times the legal limit and while it was accepted he had not drunk alcohol on the day of the accident, he had drunk heavily on the day before and alcohol was still in his bloodstream. The head-on collision, on the road between Melleray and Cappoquin, occurred 30 minutes after noon on December 23rd, 2011.
Mr Kazinski received a four-year suspended sentence from the Circuit Court and was ordered to do 240 hours community service. He was also disqualified from driving for 10 years. The Court of Appeal later reduced the disqualification to three years in the circumstances, where a long disqualification it said would prolong the family’s difficulties and make the task of Monica’s parents in sharing the responsibilities of caring for her more difficult.
Monika’s counsel Dr John O’Mahony SC with Cian O’Mahony BL told the High Court Monika suffered horrific injuries in the head on collision.
"She is spastic tetraplegic and will be so for the rest of her life," he said.
Counsel said Monika’s father who was driving had not taken any drink at all on the day of the accident, but the night before he had taken considerable drink.
'Extremely sad case'
“This is an extremely sad case. It involved catastrophic injuries to Monika who was travelling as a passenger in a car driven by her father, who is the defendant in the case.,” Counsel said.
The car where Monika was a front seat passenger collided with a pick up truck which was on its correct side of the road. When the case was before the Court of Appeal it heard there was a suggestion that Mr Kazinski turned to speak to his daughter and when he refocused on the road ahead there was a pickup truck in front of him.
Monika Kazinska, River Glen, Cappoquin, County Waterford had through her mother Marzena Kazinska sued in the High Court her father Marcin Rafal Kazinski of the same address who was the driver of the car in which she was travelling on December 23rd, 2011 near Cappoquin, which collided with another vehicle.
It was claimed there was a failure to stop, swerve, slow down or in any other way to manage or control the car and a failure to apply the brakes in sufficient time or with sufficient force.
The defence pleaded that there was alleged contributory negligence on the part of the young girl for failing to wear a seatbelt. That claim was denied, and it was claimed there was a duty of care on the father to request his daughter to wear a seatbelt.
The young girl was rushed to hospital where it was found she had suffered a traumatic brain injury and she intubated and ventilated in intensive care for two weeks. She was transferred to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in July 2012 and now uses a wheelchair.
Dr O’Mahony told the court the settlement of €15 million will give a solid and safe future to Monika.
Approving the settlement the President of the High Court Ms Justice Mary Irvine said the settlement will give Monika the life and dignity she deserves, and she spoke personally to the young woman before they left court.