‘Unreliable witness’ has accident payout cut from £40,000 to £13,000


A woman hit by a car is to have a potential £40,000 payout cut by two-thirds due to her own contributory negligence, a High Court judge has ruled.

Reducing Margaret Glass’ award to just over £13,000, Mr Justice Maguire described her as an unreliable witness who stepped on to a road without checking for oncoming traffic.

He also rejected as “fanciful” claims she sustained annual losses of £55,000 from having to sell her farm after the accident in Ballycastle, Co Antrim.

Mrs Glass, 40, sued motorist Paul Donnelly over being struck by his Mazda sports car in September 2006.

She was crossing Ann Street in the seaside town to return to her vehicle after buying supplies for a fishing trip when the accident occurred.

Her head struck the windscreen, causing lacerations and potential brief loss of consciousness. She also suffered an injury to her knee.

It was alleged that Mr Donnelly, who worked in a local bakery, was driving too fast at the time.

Mrs Glass claimed the accident left her unable to continue working as a farmer, with a substantial loss of earning.

Even though her business had been on a small scale she said she had been achieving a £55,000 profit a year, the court heard.

But she later accepted that figure was high, agreeing that her annual income was closer to £7,500.

Mr Justice Maguire said: “She was not, in the court’s estimation, a reliable witness.

“The plaintiff’s account of sustaining an annual loss of £55,000 was fanciful and had no foundation, and her willingness to sign a document saying that she had reflected negatively on her credibility.”

Dealing with liability in the case, he held that she stepped out without looking for oncoming traffic.

The judge also found that Mr Donnelly was driving too fast as he rounded a bend before the collision at around 30mph.

“The plaintiff and the defendant both were responsible for the accident,” he said.

Based on her injuries and loss of earnings, Mrs Glass’ claim would have been worth a total award of £39,228 on full liability.

But confirming a final payout of £13,076, Mr Justice Maguire said: “This, however, must be reduced by two-thirds in accordance with the court’s assessment of the respective parties’ contributions to the accident.”