A settlement of €17,800 has been awarded by the Circuit Civil Court to a fourteen year old girl who suffered respiratory distress syndrome as a results of her mother going into premature labour two days after being involved in a road accident.
Aoife Sheenan was born two days after her mother, Martina, was involved in a collision on Templeroan Road in April, 1999. Neither Martina nor the other driver, Elaine O’Connor, was injured in the incident. However, the shock of the collision allegedly caused Martina to go into early labour at thirty-six weeks. After two days, Aoife was born at Coombe Hospital in Dublin.
Aoife was immediately transferred to the neo-natal unit and placed on a ventilator after suffering respiratory distress syndrome. She remained there, critically ill, for three weeks while being served medication in an attempt to assist with her breathing. Eventually, the prematurely delivered baby was capable of breathing on her own.
On her daughter’s behalf, Martina sought legal advice in order to make a case for compensation for injuries to the foetus. Arguing that had the accident not occurred, Aoife would not have been born premature, and therefore would not have suffered the illness that she did.
Elaine O’Connor’s insurers denied the claim, citing the fact that there was no medical evidence to support the claim that Aoife was born premature as a result of the incident. They also claimed that premature babies were inherently predisposed to respiratory distress syndrome. Therefore, they claimed that Ms O’Connor was not liable for the injuries.
In spite of these challenges, Martina and Aoife’s solicitors pursued with the claim. Judge Matthew Deery heard the case for foetal injuries in a car crash at the Circuit Civil Court. A settlement was agreed upon, and it was negotiated that Aoife would receive €17,800 for her injuries. The compensation is to be paid in court funds until Aoife reaches the age of eighteen years old.