Northern Ireland

£1m payout for injured Slovakian journalist

A journalist knocked down near Belfast while using his mobile phone has received more than £1m in compensation, it has been revealed.

Slovakian national Milan Rybansky, 34, suffered serious brain injuries which have left him unable to walk or talk since the accident six years ago.

His lawyers have secured a settlement payout of £1.125m.

The amount of money was reduced to reflect his share of responsibility for what happened.

Care

He was crossing the Mallusk Road in Newtownabbey when he was hit by a car in December 2004.

It was not disputed that he was using his mobile at the time, with a witness suggesting he was using it to text.

The trained journalist had moved to Belfast six weeks before the collision.

Fluent in three languages, he also worked as a history teacher in his native country.

Due to the seriousness of his injuries, he is now confined to a wheelchair and has only limited use of his hands.

He has gone back to his home near Bratislava where he requires permanent 24-hour care.

His parents, who were forced to sell their home and give up work to look after him, brought an action on his behalf against the insurers of the motorist involved in the collision.

At first the case was disputed on the basis that Mr Rybansky was at fault for the accident because he was using his phone.

'Life-changing'

However, an agreement was eventually reached to share liability because it was accepted the driver should also have seen him.

Mr Rybansky's lawyer said the settlement reflected the seriousness of his client's injuries and the fact he will never work again.

The scale of the compensation has now been approved by the High Court after checks were carried out on how the money would be managed in Slovakia.

The solicitor, who travelled to the central European country as part of his handling of the case, described it as "a life changing" outcome for Mr Rybansky.

He said: "But for the compensation claim the outlook for Milan's family was very bleak.

"It now allows them to purchase a proper car to transport him and a proper house, given that he needs 24-hour care to give him some quality of life.

"The important thing for the family, and it has taken a lot of effort to get to this point, is that they are now able to pay for the things that are important to Milan now and in the future, particularly the medical care."