*The crash occurred in August 2021.
A FORMER world handball champion has told a court that he feared for his life and thought ‘that’s it’ after his car struck a loose cow on the M18 motorway in south Clare.
Arising from the late night collision with the cow near Cratloe on the motorway linking Limerick and Ennis on August 17th 2021, Declan Frawley told Ennis Circuit Court that “there were so many fragments of glass in my eyes I couldn’t see”.
Paramedics at the scene taped down Mr Frawley’s eyes and he was brought by ambulance to University Hospital Limerick (UHL) where a medic removed the glass particles from his eyes with a tweezers.
As a result of the ‘cow collision’, factory worker and Ennis resident, Mr Frawley (48) was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and sustained a back injury.
In court, Judge Francis Comerford awarded damages of €34,368 to Mr Frawley made up of €32,000 in general damages and €2,368 in special damages.
Judge Comerford stated that the circumstances of the collision with the cow were “extremely serious, extremely traumatic and extremely significant”.
He commented the collision “so easily could have been an accident with more significant consequence”.
Liability was admitted in the personal injury action taken by Mr Frawley against Cratloe man, John Whyte (represented by Emmet O’Brien BL instructed by Harrison O’Dowd Solicitors) and the case was before Judge Comerford for assessment of damages only.
In evidence, Mr Frawley said that he was driving at around 11.30pm to night-shift work into Limerick when past Setright’s pub at Cratloe “I came upon the cow on the road out of nowhere”.
He said, “I tried to swerve to avoid him but it just brought me into him and swung me across the road. I lost control of the steering wheel, it came off my hand and the car hit the steel barrier on the left hand side and the car did a few u-turns.”
He said, “I feared for my life – I wanted to get out of the car. The door was jammed on my right hand side and I leaned back and kicked the door out and I got out onto the road.”
He said, “There were so many fragments of glass in my eyes I couldn’t see. Paramedics told me the best option was to tape down my eye-lids and just relax”.
Mr Frawley was transferred by ambulance to University Hospital Limerick and a medic there “proceeded to take the glasses out of my eyes with a tweezers”.
Mr Frawley said that his main fear at the time was for his eyes. He said, “I wanted to be able to see again”. Mr Frawley said that his son was aged around two at the time and he said, “I was praying to God that I would see him and hold him again.”
He said, “There isn’t a day that goes by that I am thankful that I am here…When I impacted the cow, I thought -’that’s it’.”
Mr Frawley said that he changed jobs to go to Shannon based Mincon in order to avoid having to drive on that stretch of road on a regular basis.
Mr Frawley said that he was driving at a speed of 100km per hour at the time of impact with the cow.
Counsel for Mr Frawley, Lorcan Connolly BL (inst by solicitor, John Casey) said that Mr Frawley was confronted, without warning, by a beast, a cow, on the motorway.
Mr Connolly stated that the collision with the cow caused considerable damage to the driver’s side of Mr Frawley’s car.
Mr Connolly stated that the accident has had significant impacts on Mr Frawley where a consultant psychiatrist has diagnosed him with having PTSD and he is left with ongoing consistent back pain.
Mr Connolly said that an MRI scan on Mr Frawley had recorded “objective signs of some degree of damage to the spinal column”.
In his judgement, Judge Comerford said that fortunately, Mr Frawley’s eye injuries resolved and fully recovered and he was back driving and working within six weeks.
Judge Comerford said that the circumstances of the crash “were highly traumatic”.
Judge Comerford stated that a diagnosis of PTSD is very foreseeable from an accident of this nature and that Mr Frawley wasn’t in any way exaggerating when talking of the psychological impact the crash has had on him.
In calculating damages, Judge Comerford stated that the PTSD “isn’t at the higher level but is present and is a real factor” and stated that there should be uplift in the award for the back injury “because of the future element in the injury”.
He said, “The pain at present is indefinite”.