Man denied £300K pay-out over quad-bike crash in Coalisland

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A man has been denied a £300,000 pay-out for a quad bike accident after a High Court judge declared his evidence flawed and exaggerated.

John Savage claimed he was dragged 100 metres by a car which struck him while he was out riding as a 15-year-old near his home in Co Tyrone.

But dismissing his case, Mr Justice Gillen ruled there was no negligence on the part of the defendant motorist.

He said: “The evident exaggeration on the part of this plaintiff led me to conclude that his evidence was inauthentic and struck a false note.”

Mr Savage sued Paula McCourt for injuries sustained by him in August 2004.

He told the court he had been riding a quad bike in his father’s field and decided to cross the Washing Bay Road, Coalisland to a field on the other side.

Mr Savage said he had been using motorbikes and quads “all his life”, but knew it was not licensed to be on the road.

According to his account the bike was stopped on the grass verge when the defendant’s Volkswagen Polo appeared, apparently veering, struck him and trapped his leg.

He denied claims by Ms McCourt that he was on the road travelling in the same direction as her and performed a U-turn into her path without notification, making a collision inevitable.

He also denied saying to her after the accident: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Ms McCourt was aged 22 and had only been driving for six months when the accident occurred on her way home from church.

She recalled the quad travelling in the same direction and cutting across her as she went to overtake it.

In evidence she emphatically denied either having driven across the road and into Mr Savage, or that he became entangled and was dragged along the road.

Damages, which included unspecified foot and leg injuries, had been agreed in the sum of £300,000, leaving only the issue of liability to be determined.

With consultant engineers having also given expert opinion, Mr Justice Gillen held that Mr Savage had failed to prove negligence to the required standard.

Describing him as a “singularly unimpressive witness”, the judge said: “It was entirely implausible for him to suggest that he had been dragged 100 metres by the vehicle, or indeed several hundred yards as he suggested to one of the doctors.

“I have no doubt that had this occurred his injuries would have been far greater than they were.”

He added that by the time Ms McCourt decided to overtake, “the U-turn of the plaintiff, which I believe occurred, left it too late for her to take any effective avoiding action other than that which she did”