Posted: September 18th, 2018
Whiplash injury compensation payments in Ireland are, on average, 4.4 times higher than awards for similar injuries in England and Wales.
This statistic was revealed in the Final Report of the Personal Injuries Commission. The report recommends that the Judicial Council should compile judicial guidelines for whiplash injury compensation awards.
The Commission’s finding found that the average soft tissue award is €17,338 compared to just €3,984 for the same compensation award in Britain. Commission chairman Justice Nicholas Kearns commented in his second and final report, that while genuine claimants need adequate compensation, the negative affect of high premiums on businesses and consumers had to be acknowledged.
Justice Kearns said: “The multiple that has emerged in the benchmarking process is so significant that the Commission is satisfied that it calls for a response that is effective and achievable in the shortest time”.
Insurance Ireland said an urgent policy response is required as the cost of the average award is continuing to “spiral” with the average Circuit Court award increasing by approximately 50% from 2013 to 2016 – from €11,941 to €17,722.
CEO of Insurance Ireland Kevin Thompson commented: “It is also clear that the Irish public supports reform as according to a nationally representative poll conducted by Ipsos MRBI in January, 78% of Irish people would support proposals to reduce personal injury award levels.”
However, there was some concern expressed Director General Ken Murphy of the Law Society of Ireland who said that lower damages did not automatically result in lower insurance premiums. He said: “Simply reducing damages takes money away from those who suffer injuries through no fault of their own and puts it in the pockets of the already very profitable insurance companies”.
Posted: January 21st, 2018
A sister-in-law of a well-known member of the Dublin crime scene, Noeleen Coakley aged 45, was labelled “a woman who just seemed to attract misfortune” by judge Judge Raymond Groarke while assessing damages awarded to her in a rear end accident
Judge Groarke was referring to the fact that Ms Coakley had been injured in six car accidents in recent years. He made the remark as he approved a road accident compensation award of €28,000 for car accident injuries she sustained.
Noeleen Coakley Hutch (45) was married to Derek Hutch, who died in 2009, brother to Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch. The court was advised that Ms Coakley has been involved in six previous car accidents being awarded €60,000 car accident compensation in total from those incidents.
The hearing was an assessment of the compensation for a car accident being awarded, as liability had already conceded in the case.
Judge Groarke commented that, despite the similarities in Ms Coakley’s road traffic accidents, he found her to be an honest lady, thought with an unlucky record of accidents.
He went on to say that he did not agree with the manner that the legal team for the defence sought to argue that, Ms Coakley was “a chancer or a fraud” due to her experience of so many road accidents. The Judge said that he believed that she was an innocent party in all of those previous accidents.
Judge Groarke, in assessing the damages for this particular case, was advised that Ms Coakley had been rear-ended while travelling in her car in Ballybough, on May 19, 2014. She was brought, by ambulance, to the Mater Hospital Emergency Department folowing the accident. She received medical treatment here.
Judge Groarke award Ms Coakley€28,000 and legal costs in her road traffic accident claim.
Posted: December 20th, 2017
The result of report released by the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) shows that the rate of whiplash injury is much higher in Ireland than in most other European countries.
The Personal Injuries Commission, which was set up in early 2017 to review compensation claims with a aim of looking closely at the surge in soft tissue and whiplash claims.
Car insurance costs grew by 70% between 2013 and 2016. Exaggerated/fraudulent claims are being held responsible for this surge.
The Commission reveals in the report that it is of the opinion that establishing an independent medical panel to review occurrences of whiplash injuries would interfere with a claimant’s rights, so it is not calling for that course of action to be introduced.
Alternatively it calls for the establishment of a uniform approach for medical staff dealing with whiplash injuries. Currently there is no relevant accreditation needed or benchmark standard for a doctor who needs to produce a medico-legal report on a personal injury compensation claim in Ireland. The report states that doctors should adopt a standardised method in diagnosing, treating and reporting on soft tissue injuries, of which the vast majority are whiplash related.
The Commission stressed that the Quebec Task Force Whiplash Associated Disorder grading scale should be applied by medical professionals reporting on relevant injuries. This scale is based on the extent of symptoms and associated physical indicators and states that “Training and accreditation in soft tissue reporting is agreed as being the best practice requirement for those wishing to complete relevant reports”.
It is thought that a self-testing element by the injured individual should also be introduced to assess compensation and damages neccessary.
Chaired by Judge Nicholas Kearns, the PIC urged insurance companies to publish details on the rates of whiplash injuries reported. This could be an pivotal element of the National Claims Information Database being developed by the Central Bank of Ireland at present.
Justice Kearns remarked that such sharing of information on whiplash injuries would improve the personal injuries compensation sector in Ireland by encouraging ‘an objective standard’ for examining whiplash injuries. He added that, in future, reports will look at comparative systems and bench marking compensation award levels globally to ensure we remain relevant.
Posted: November 23rd, 2017
Following a car accident that occurred in 2010 a Garda has been awarded €31,000 work accident damages due to injuries he suffered when his Garda squad car was rammed.
Former Limerick hurler Garda Nigel Carey (46), from Croom, Co Limerick, was injured when the Garda squad car he was sitting in was rear ended in October 2010 during a high-speed chase.
Legal Counsel for Mr Carey, Barrister Kevin D’Arcy, said his client had previously been quite a well known athlete, a hurler, at the time of the crash happening in 2010. Mr Carey attended his GP once regarding his neck, shoulder and lower back injuries and was advised to seek physiotherapy therapy.
Garda Carey advised the court that the Garda squad car was “sent flying” due to the force of the crash impact, the vehicle damaged to the extent that it had to be written off in the aftermath of the incident.
Mr Carey’s neck, right shoulder and lower back had been injured in the accident. He said that his shoulder was still restricted but it did not impede his movement to any great extent.
Presiding Judge, Mr Justice Bernard Barton said “the best medical report supporting Garda Carey’s claim for compensation” was given by the chief medical officer from An Garda Síochána who had reviewed Mr Carey’s injuries on behalf of the Minister for Public Expenditure.
Mr Carey did not try to gather up more and more medical reports to exaggerate his injuries. He also returned to work as soon as possible after the incident happened.
For this behaviour, the judge paid tribute to Garda Carey’s dedication during the Workplace Car Accident Compensation hearing as he had only been absent from work for just three days in the aftermath of the incident. He went on to say it was to Garda Carey’s eternal credit that he had not made an issue of his back injury which quickly became better.
Posted: May 14th, 2017
A driver and her passenger have been awarded compensation for whiplash-like injuries which they sustained after the sunroof of their car flew off as they were driving along a motorway.
In November 2013, a family were travelling along the M1 at approximately 80 km/h in a four-month-old Toyota. Suddenly, the sun roof of their car blew off, creating a noise which one plaintiff described to be similar to “a bomb going off in the car” The driver, alarmed at the sudden noise, braked sharply, causing all five adult occupants of the car to suffer whiplash-type injuries due to the sudden stop. Fortunately, the two children travelling with them were strapped into child seats and were left unharmed.
After seeking legal counsel, the driver of the car and her 72-year-old mother claimed compensation for car accident injuries against Denis Mahony Limited of Kilbarrack Road in Dublin, where they had recently purchased the vehicle. They claimed in their legal action that their injuries were directly attributable to a fault with the sun roof that should have been identified in a pre-sale inspection.
The initial denied liability, stating that the sun roof was not faulty at the time of purchase. They contested the claims for compensation for car accident injuries. Due to the dispute in liability, the case was brought to the Circuit Civil Court, where it was heard by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke. An independent car assessor was brought as a witness to assess the condition of the car. They stated that they found extensive corrosion of the remaining frame of the sun roof and testified the corrosion had made the car unsafe to drive and should have been identified before it was sold to the driver.
Judge Groarke also heard that the five adult occupants and two children in the car had been travelling to Newry for a pre-Christmas shopping expedition at the time of the accident. The driver had subsequently pulled in to an AppleGreen filling station and stuck a plastic sack over the hole in the roof, but the shopping trip had to be abandoned due to their injuries and shock.
The judge said he accepted the sun roof flying off would have been a terrifying experience, and added that he understood why the driver had applied the brakes so sharply. He found in favour of the plaintiffs and awarded the driver of the car €12,500 and her mother, who had suffered more severe injuries, €25,000 compensation for car accident injuries.
Posted: September 24th, 2013
A woman who suffered serious neck injuries when rear-ended by a Texas Forest Service employee has won a two-year battle against her own insurance company to recover compensation for a whiplash injury.
In April 2011, Brenda Nolen (51) from Texoma in Young County, Texas, was returning from a shopping trip when her Dodge pick-up was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by a Texas Forest Service employee who had fallen asleep at the wheel. The impact of the crash forced Brenda´s pick-up into a petrol pump on a garage forecourt, which burst into flames when she ran into it.
Brenda managed to escape from her burning vehicle with help from passers-by, but she suffered a broken arm, multiple burns and a serious whiplash injury in the accident. Brenda had to undergo multiple operations to repair the injury to her neck and was unable to drive or work for almost two years.
She made a claim for compensation for her whiplash injury against the Forest Service driver´s employers – the State of Texas – to cover her medical costs and to pay for a replacement vehicle. However, the State of Texas rejected her claim for compensation – stating that employees of the State Forest Service were immune from liability for any injuries or accidents caused while on their way to an emergency according to the Homeland Security Act.
Brenda then approached State Farm – her own insurance company – who declined her claim for whiplash injury compensation using the same anti-terrorist legislation. This was despite Brenda obtaining a statement from the Texas Forest Service employee to confirm that he had fallen asleep at the wheel of his vehicle and was not en route to an emergency.
With help from a solicitor, Brenda pursued her entitlement to compensation for a whiplash injury and, after threatening court action, her insurance company agreed to an undisclosed settlement which enabled Brenda to get a new car and cover most – but not all – of her medical expenses.
Posted: August 14th, 2011
A 53-year-old man has been awarded $950,000 in compensation for a severe whiplash injury he sustained while being rear-ended by a van belonging to the County of Los Angeles. Felipe Medina was awarded the settlement days before his claim was due to be heard before a judge at the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Medina sustained his severe whiplash injury after being rear-ended in his Saturn Vue by a van being driven by Los Angeles county employee Wille Duckworth westbound on the 105 freeway in Lynwood, California. Medina came to a stop due to a traffic jam in front of him.
Police investigating the incident later discovered that Duckworth had been travelling at excessive speed and had been unable to stop when he crashed his van into the back of Medina’s Saturn Vue.
Medina suffered extensive shoulder and neck injuries during the collision which it was feared may prevent him from continuing his job as a maintenance supervisor. He was forced to undergo several operations to relieve him of his pain, and had to wear a back brace and receive epidural injections and painkilling tablets for a time after the collision.
Felipe pursued his claim against the County of Los Angeles after seeking legal advice. In California employers can be held liable for the negligent acts of their workers.