Posted: August 18th, 2020
At the Court of Appeal a Whiplash compensation award figure has been revised down to €41,000.
The ruling was made in relation to an award of €70,000 that was approved in December 2019. The woman in question, Emma McKeown, had been awarded the compensation as a result of the whiplash injuries that she sustained in a road traffic accident during 2017. Following this amount being approved at the High Court an appeal against the figure awarded by the defendants, Alan Crosby and Mary Vocella.
In the ruling that was released Court of Appeal judge Mr Justice Seamus Noonan commented that Emma that McKeown was honest and he was of the belief that she did not exaggerate her injuries. He continued delivering the ruling saying that the amount of whiplash injury compensation that was awarded in the case was much too high.
He said: “Taking into account all the relevant factors to which I have referred in the context of the proportionality of the award in this case, I am satisfied that by any reasonable measure it cannot be viewed as proportionate. It is not proportionate when viewed against the measure of the maximum for the most serious injuries. The cost of (motor, public or employer’s liability) insurance is for most ordinary people and businesses, a significant outgoing. The extent to which awards by courts influence that cost is in recent times, a matter of widespread public discourse, debate and dispute.
The Court of Appeal ruling amended the compensation figure to general damages of €35,000 plus agreed special damages of €6,000, making in total €41,000.
The Judge went on to comment on the link between large compensation awards and increasing insurance premiums: “Whatever the reality may be, it is clear that awards made by the courts have an impact on society as a whole and the courts are mindful of that fact. Ultimately each member of society must bear the cost of a compensation system whether through the payment of insurance premia in the case of private defendants or taxes in the case of public defendants. Society thus has a direct interest in the level of awards. Frequently, the identity of the trial judge would not be known until moments before the case actually commenced, resulting in varying outcomes depending on the ‘draw’. It is clear that this has the potential for injustice. It cannot be fair to either plaintiff or defendant that the value of their case depends on the identity of the trial judge.”
He finished saying: “Personal injury litigation should not be a lottery and plaintiffs and defendants alike are entitled to reasonable consistency and predictability. This is particularly important in the context of injuries which fall at the lower end of the spectrum as these constitute the vast bulk of cases, most commonly involving soft tissue, or ‘whiplash’ injuries.”
Posted: January 22nd, 2019
Personal injury claims totalling up to almost €500,000 were lodged on Monday in relation to a car crash involving eight Polish people where two cars crashed on an approach to a roundabout at Lusk, Co Dublin
Judge Raymond Groarke awarded each of the three claimants damages of €10,000 with District Court After hearing their testimonies today. There are five additional compensation claims to be heard in relation to this accident. Each claimant ihas also submitted a car accident compensation claim of €60,000 amounting to an total compensation claim value of €480,000 from a single car accident.
Today’s claimants, Arkadiusz Rokicki (23); Daniel Kutszal (24) and his sister, Majal Kutszal (34), all with addresses in the village of Lusk, were badly injured when they were passengers the car crash that occurred in Lusk. The vehicle in question was being driven by the defendant Dariusz Chudyk. Mr Chudyk has returned to Poland to live. However, he was indemnified through his insurance policy with Axa.
Barrister Paul Gallagher, appearing for the claimants with Robert Anderson of Anderson and Gallagher Solicitors, told the court they had suffered severe injuries when Mr Chudyk’s car collided with the rear of another car as he was driving near a roundabout in Lusk. It was claimed, in the legal action, that each of the claimants had experienced whiplash injuries. Mr Gallagher informed the court that each of his clients had registered pain and stiffness to the neck and in their lower back after the road traffic accident and had been prescribed medication to ease their suffering in the aftermath of the incident.
In approving the award of car accident compensation Judge Groarke said he was happy the accident was a genuine one and that there was no ambiguity remaining in his mind. He said he felt thatit was a genuine accident and the claimants were equally genuine. He said: “There is nothing in that evidence to compel me to accept that these people do know one another or that there is any association between them. I don’t blame the insurance company for adopting a very defensive attitude to this case which had the hallmarks of something that warrants that degree of investigation. Every case of this nature warrants a degree of investigation.”
Posted: December 4th, 2018
Luas and Irish Rail management have revealed, in response to separate Freedom of Information requests, that over 110 incidents of tram and train surfing have been recorded on the routes that they provided in and around Dublin since 2014.
This train/tram surfing activity refers to a person that holds onto the outside of a carriage as it departs a station. The activity came to public attention in October 2018 when 20-year-old Rebecca Kelly was awarded €550,000 in personal injury compensation due to sustaining major brain injuries in a fall from a Luas carriage. She was clinging onto Luas when the accident took place.
Recently, the response to a Freedom of Information request made public the fact that in excess of 35 cases of tram surfing have been registered on Luas services in the last three years.
“Tram surfing can be fatal. We have had a very small number of incidents of people trying to ‘scut’ and all staff are trained to be vigilant, observe and report. The public have reported [cases] too. Any activity or even potential concern that is reported – trams will be stopped, security and or gardai called. The risk of serious injury is very high. We show CCTV of various incidents that have occurred along the lines. The purpose is to request parents know where their kids are and if they are on the lines, they’re aware just how dangerous their playground might be” Transdev Representative Ms Dervla Brophy said in a statement released following the Freedom of Information request.
In another Freedom of Information response Irish Rail revealed that 87 occurences of train surfing have been recorded in the last two years. Since 2015 twelve train surfing incidents took place on the Northern commuter route between Dublin and Dundalk. Every one of the officially recorded incidents took place on the routes operated by the Dart.
“On board staff, station staff and security personnel are vigilant in ensuring we respond with security or garda support. Extra security patrols this year are yielding a reduction in the number of incidents”, Irish Rail spokesperson Barry Kenny stated commenting on the revelations.
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.