A settlement of compensation for a fatal drunk driving accident has been approved in Court in favour of the family of a man killed in the accident.

On 17th December 2006, Martin McDonagh (31) was killed in a single-car accident when the front seat passenger of a car driven by his elder brother Thomas McDonagh. Both men had been drinking heavily prior to the accident, and were being pursued at a distance by the Garda at the time after having been spotted driving dangerously and travelling through the village of Kilgarvan at a speed of 140 km/h.

Thomas McDonagh was subsequently arrested and charged with dangerous driving causing death. He was sentenced to three years in prison in 2008 after the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee heard that he was driving with excess alcohol, and with no license or insurance. The court was lenient in its sentencing after hearing that Martin had been the third member of the family to die in a road traffic accident.

Martin left a widow – Anne Marie – and five children; and, on her children´s behalf, Anne Marie claimed compensation for a fatal drunk driving accident against the Motor Insurers´ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) – an organization set up to pay compensation to the victims of accidents – or, in this case, the victim´s family – when the negligent driver is uninsured.

As liability for the accident had been established in the 2008 court case, liability for Martin´s death was acknowledged and an offer of settlement amounting to €15,000 was made to the family. As the claim for compensation for a fatal drunk driving accident had been made on behalf of a child – specifically Martin´s daughter, Melissa – the offer had to be approved by a judge before the claim could be resolved.

Consequently, at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was told the circumstances of the accident and that, if the claim for compensation for a fatal drunk driving accident went to a full hearing, the final settlement might be lower because of Martin´s contributory negligence. Martin had got into the car knowing that his brother was drunk and had failed to wear his seat belt.

Judge Groarke approved the settlement of compensation for a fatal drunk driving accident, and expressed the court´s deep sympathy to Anne Marie and her children.