A 22-year-old woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury during childhood, when her father crashed the car she was a passenger in, has settled her High Court action for €15 million.
onika Kazinska was 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 in 2011. She was 12 at the time.
Her father, Marcin Rafal Kazinski of River Glen, Cappoquin, later pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm and drink driving outside Cappoquin on December 23, 2011.
When he was breathalysed by gardaí, Mr Kazinski was three times over the legal limit. While it was accepted he had not consumed alcohol on the day of the accident, he had done so 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 23, 2011.
Mr Kazinski received a four-year suspended sentence from the Circuit Court and was ordered to do 240 hours of community service. He was also disqualified from driving for 10 years.
The Court of Appeal later reduced the disqualification to three years. This was done in the acknowledgement that a long disqualification would make the parents’ task of caring for Monika more difficult.
Monika’s counsel, Dr John O’Mahony SC with Cian O’Mahony BL, told the High Court today that Monika suffered horrific injuries in the collision.
“She is spastic tetraplegic and will be so for the rest of her life,” he said.
“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.”
The car in which the child travelled collided with a pick-up truck, which was on the 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, through her mother Marzena Kazinska, sued her father Marcin over the accident.
It was claimed there was a failure to stop, swerve or slow down, as well as 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 was denied and it was claimed there was a duty of care on the father to request his daughter to wear a seatbelt.
The girl was rushed to hospital, where it was found she had suffered a traumatic brain injury. She was 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.
The court was told the settlement of €15million will give a solid and safe future to Monika.
Approving the settlement, President of the High Court Ms Justice Mary Irvine said it will give Monika the life and dignity she deserves. The judge spoke personally to the young woman before they left court.