Family of man warned not to travel in car with drunk driver settles case over death for €450,000
Posted on 12th January 2023 at 20:47
The body of a 38-year-old who was urged not to travel in a car driven by a drunk man was later identified by DNA tests after the car crashed and caught fire, the High Court has heard.
The family of Michael Tobin, a father-of-three from Co Waterford, has settled for €450,000 a legal action over his death in 2016. The driver and another passenger were also killed in the incident.
An inquest later heard that the car was on the wrong side of the road when it collided with another vehicle. It heard that the driver, Eamon Dixon (22), was found to have a high level of alcohol in his system as well as traces of cocaine and other drugs, leading the pathologist to conclude his ability to drive would have been “seriously impaired”.
Mr Dixon, of Abbeyside, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, was killed instantly in the crash, along with his passengers - the car’s owner Kenneth O’Sullivan (39), of Blackpool, Cork, and Mr Tobin, from Abbeyside in Dungarvan. The crash happened at Kildangan, Military Road, Dungarvan early on December 4th, 2016.
Mr Justice Paul Coffey this week approved the €450,000 settlement against representatives of Mr O’Sullivan, as the car’s owner, and the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland, which compensates victims of uninsured and untraced drivers. The judge conveyed his deepest sympathy to Mr Tobin’s family on what he said “must have been a truly shocking event” in their lives.
Jeremy Maher SC, for the family, told the court all three men were burnt beyond recognition when the car went on fire. The coroner had heard that they were identified by comparing their DNA with samples taken from family members.
Counsel said gardaí had carried out a detailed analysis of the event and heard that another man had implored Mr Tobin to get out of the car, but “tragically, he did not”. Mr Tobin was an excellent father to his two sons and a daughter, who were aged between six and 14 at the time of the incident, the court heard.
As Mr Tobin had been urged by a friend not to travel in the car, the case would have to be assessed on the basis that liability was split 50/50, counsel said. The inquest jury returned verdicts of accidental death for all three men.
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