Belfast Telegraph

Donegal woman injured by van in Belfast awarded £120k

Helen Neill is to receive £120k in compensation, the High Court ruled
Helen Neill is to receive £120k in compensation, the High Court ruled

By Alan Erwin

A Co Donegal woman seriously injured by a van as she carried her son on a family day out in Belfast is to receive £120,000 in damages, a High Court judge has ruled.

The payout was awarded to Helen Neill after a 20% reduction for her contributory negligence in the collision at a traffic crossing outside the Odyssey Pavillion.

Mr Justice Maguire held that flashing green lights should have alerted the 47-year-old to the risk of motorists.

He said: "In many ways the damage done in this accident could have been much greater than it turned out to be.

"The plaintiff's son could have been, but was not, injured."

Mrs Neill, from Killybegs, sued van driver Norman Moore over ankle injuries sustained in the collision on November 1, 2013.

She had been in Belfast with her husband and their two children, aged 11 and nine, to visit the W5 science and discovery centre as part of their Halloween break.

The court heard Mrs Neill was carrying her son when they left the attraction and headed for the car park outside the Odyssey.

As she crossed the road a large lorry came to a halt, obstructing her view of any traffic in a second lane.

The defendant's van then emerged, failing to slow down at flashing amber lights.

According to Mr Justice Maguire the collision occurred in an instant, with Mrs Neill probably walking into the side of the vehicle.

Mr Moore apologised after the accident and said he had not been concentrating.

It was agreed that he had been guilty of negligence in a claim assessed as worth £150,000 for full liability.

The judge pointed out that the greater fault lay with him for not keeping a better look out for pedestrians. 

But he ruled that Mrs Neill was also 20% liable for the accident.

"There was, in the court's view, a not inconsiderable obligation on her to take care of herself when crossing the road at a crossing when the traffic lights were flashing green," he said.

"This was especially so when it was evident that se was going to have to cross four lanes of traffic to get to the safety of the other side of the road."

Mr Justice Maguire confirmed: "The court will award the plaintiff the sum of £120,000 to be paid by the defendant."

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