A young girl who suffered facial scarring after being hit by a scrambler motorbike is to be awarded £90,000 in damages, a High Court judge has ruled.
Mr Justice Stephens ordered the payout for injuries inflicted in a collision that also caused serious damage to a saliva duct.
The news of the payout follows an unrelated fatal collision involving a scrambler bike in west Belfast’s Colin Glen Forest Park in mid-July, which resulted in the death of 35-year-old Valerie Armstrong.
The child at the centre of the High Court case, who cannot be identified, was aged four when the accident happened in the Co Armagh area in May 2013.
She was playing with friends on a footpath outside her grandparents’ house when the scrambler struck her.
The bike’s handlebar cut a hole in her cheek, the court heard.
She also sustained dental damage and was left with a fear of exposure to motorcycle noise.
Following the collision the girl suffered nightmares and panicked if she heard scramblers in the field near her home.
Her mother sued both the rider of the bike and the Motor Insurers Bureau.
With negligence admitted in the case, the only issue to be decided was the level of damages.
Dealing with the impact on the child, Mr Justice Stephens said she has been left with an obvious scar in a prominent position.
He described her as “a very pleasant but relatively shy young girl who takes care of her personal appearance”.
The judge added: “The effect is that when the plaintiff smiles, expressing happiness and enjoyment, the impact of the smile is spoilt by the scar becoming markedly indented.”
In his assessment she will become very self-conscious of the facial mark as she gets older.
“I consider that there is a significant and real risk that this could lead to feelings of poor self-worth, low self-esteem and increase the risk of developing depressive illness,” he held.
For a two-month period after the accident she became fearful and clingy at the sound of scramblers.
The court heard she would scream in the car if motorbikes passed by during the first few weeks.
Concluding the plastic surgery will not reduce the effects of the scarring, Mr Justice Stephens confirmed his award was based on the injuries and psychological reaction.
He ruled: “I assess overall damages at the figure of £90,000 and enter judgment for that amount.”