A County Armagh girl who suffered facial scarring after being hit by a scrambler is to be awarded £90,000 in damages.
High Court Judge Mr Justice Stephens ordered the payout for injuries inflicted in a collision that also left her screaming in fear at the sound of motorbike engines.
The child, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was aged just four when the incident happened 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 motorcycle noise.
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 by the court was the amount of damages.
Mr Justice Stephens said the girl has been left with an obvious scar in a prominent place. 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 would become very self-conscious of the facial mark as she grows 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, the girl became fearful at the sound of scramblers. She also screamed while travelling by car if motorbikes passed by during the first few weeks following her experience.
Concluding plastic surgery will not reduce the effects of the scarring, Mr Justice Stephens confirmed his award was based on her injuries and psychological reaction.