Posted: May 14th, 2017
A driver and her passenger have been awarded compensation for whiplash-like injuries which they sustained after the sunroof of their car flew off as they were driving along a motorway.
In November 2013, a family were travelling along the M1 at approximately 80 km/h in a four-month-old Toyota. Suddenly, the sun roof of their car blew off, creating a noise which one plaintiff described to be similar to “a bomb going off in the car” The driver, alarmed at the sudden noise, braked sharply, causing all five adult occupants of the car to suffer whiplash-type injuries due to the sudden stop. Fortunately, the two children travelling with them were strapped into child seats and were left unharmed.
After seeking legal counsel, the driver of the car and her 72-year-old mother claimed compensation for car accident injuries against Denis Mahony Limited of Kilbarrack Road in Dublin, where they had recently purchased the vehicle. They claimed in their legal action that their injuries were directly attributable to a fault with the sun roof that should have been identified in a pre-sale inspection.
The initial denied liability, stating that the sun roof was not faulty at the time of purchase. They contested the claims for compensation for car accident injuries. Due to the dispute in liability, the case was brought to the Circuit Civil Court, where it was heard by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke. An independent car assessor was brought as a witness to assess the condition of the car. They stated that they found extensive corrosion of the remaining frame of the sun roof and testified the corrosion had made the car unsafe to drive and should have been identified before it was sold to the driver.
Judge Groarke also heard that the five adult occupants and two children in the car had been travelling to Newry for a pre-Christmas shopping expedition at the time of the accident. The driver had subsequently pulled in to an AppleGreen filling station and stuck a plastic sack over the hole in the roof, but the shopping trip had to be abandoned due to their injuries and shock.
The judge said he accepted the sun roof flying off would have been a terrifying experience, and added that he understood why the driver had applied the brakes so sharply. He found in favour of the plaintiffs and awarded the driver of the car €12,500 and her mother, who had suffered more severe injuries, €25,000 compensation for car accident injuries.