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Whiplash Compensation Claims

Personal Injury Compensation Claims of Almost €500k Lodged for Car Accident Involving Eight People

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.”


Whiplash Compensation Pay-Outs are Four Times Higher on Average in Ireland

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”.


€82,000 Car Crash Injury Compensation Settlement for Taxi Driver

Posted: June 15th, 2018

A taxi driver who is now unable to play golf and experienced post traumatic stress disorder after a road traffic accident has been awarded a total of €82,000 in car crash compensation by the High Court.

Patrick Murphy was unable to swing the golf club following the crash four years ago Justice Bernard Barton was advised. The judge accepted the medical arguments made on behalf of Mr Murphy that as a result of the accident, where a van crashed into his taxi, that his arthritis was rendered symptomatic and he now suffers from a severe and painful condition in his elbows.

Mr Murphy (62), with an address at Cranfield Place, Sandymount, Dublin, took the car crash accident compensation action against Malone Engineering Services Ltd, Ballycoolin, Dublin, owners of the van which crashed in to Mr Murphy, and the driver, Francis Cleary, a worker at the company.

Mr Murphy said that on March 29, 2014 he was driving his taxi on the James Larkin Road, Dublin, moving beyond the junction with the Howth Road, when without the van suddenly made a right hand turn and crashed into the front of his car.

Liability was accepted in the case and it was before the court for final assessment of damages only.

Mr Murphy told the court that he experienced shock, fright and distress and had pain in neck, lower back and both arms. He also had flashbacks and traumatic nightmares following the accident. Judge Bernard Barton said that he believed Mr Murphy to be a truthful witness.

The judge told those present that Mr Murphy attempted to return to work  but was unable to work nights following the accident.

Additionally the judge said that Mr Murphy had been unable to resume his hobbies of golf and DIY.

The judge accepted the proof given in relation to Mr Murphy suffering post traumatic stress disorder from which he has now largely recovered.

PIC Report: Ireland Experiences Highest Whiplash Injury Rates in Europe

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.


Garda Car Rear End Ramming Incident leads to €31,000 Work Accident Compensation Pay Out

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.

Car Hire Injury Compensation Claims Upheld in Court

Posted: August 4th, 2017

A judge at the High Court has upheld seven car hire injury compensation claims relating to an accident in Lifford, County Donegal, in 2011.

On June 28th 2011, the driver of a hired Ford Fiesta failed to slow down as he was approaching a roundabout in Lifford, County Donegal, and hit a Peugeot 406 that was on the roundabout at the time. The driver of the Peugeot and six other men suffered soft tissue injuries. They subsequently made car hire injury compensation claims against the driver of the Ford Fiesta and the company from which it had been hired – Hertz Rent-a-Car.

In 2015, the seven victims of the accident were awarded amounts of €5,050 to €9,550 in settlement of their car hire injury compensation claims by Buncrana Circuit Court. Hertz Rent-a-Car appealed the awards – claiming that the accident had been fabricated and that the plaintiffs making the car hire injury compensation claims had exaggerated their injuries and the effect the injuries had on their quality of life.

The appeal was heard last month by Mr Justice Charles Meenan at the High Court. During the hearing, Judge Meenan was told the driver of the hired Ford Fiesta had been overheard calling the driver of the Peugeot 406 to get the details of his car when he returned the Ford Fiesta to the Hertz Rent-a-Car office in Derry. Due to the friendly nature of the call, the car hire company made further investigations and discovered all the plaintiffs were known to the negligent driver.

The barrister representing the seven plaintiffs told the court the allegations of fraudulently fabricating the accident were outrageous and lacking in support. Judge Meenan said he would reserve his decision until October, but earlier this week dismissed the car hire company´s appeal against the settlement of the car hire injury compensation claims and found in favour of the seven plaintiffs.

Upholding the awards of the Buncrana Circuit Court, Judge Meenan said the overheard telephone conversation was insufficient evidence to prove the accident had been fabricated and that “one would have thought, if the collision was a setup, the information sought in the call would already have been firmly fixed in his mind prior to returning the hire car.”

Claims for Whiplash Injuries on the M1 Resolved in Court

Posted: June 2nd, 2017

Two claims for whiplash injuries on the M1 have been resolved at the Circuit Civil Court after the negligent party withdrew its defence against the claim.

The claims for whiplash injuries on the M1 were made by a woman and her mother, who had been travelling from Dublin to Newry in a family group on a pre-Christmas shopping expedition in November 2013. As the woman drove along the M1 at a speed on about 80KMph, the sun roof blew off her recently-purchased Toyota, creating a noise described as “like a bomb going off in the car”.

The woman applied the brakes of the car sharply, causing all five adult occupants of the car to suffer whiplash-type injuries. The woman´s mother was the worse injured of the group – suffering a compression fracture of a vertebrae in her lower back as well as soft tissue damage. Two children travelling in the family group escaped injury due to being strapped into child seats.

The five injured occupants of the car made individual claims for whiplash injuries on the M1 against the car showroom from which the Toyota had been purchased – Denis Mahony Limited. The family members alleged in their legal action that the sun roof had been faulty at the time the car was purchased, and the accident in which they were injured was directly related to the faulty sun roof.

Liability for the injuries was denied, and two of the claims for whiplash injuries on the M1 were recently heard by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke at the Circuit Civil Court. At the hearing, Judge Groarke was told by an independent motor assessor that corrosion surrounding the frame of the sun roof should have been notice in a pre-sale inspection and attended to before the car was sold to the family.

The assessor testified that the advanced state of the corrosion led to the sun roof blowing off and the accident would have been avoided if the fault had been identified and rectified in a timely manner. Following the assessor´s testimony, Denis Mahony Limited withdrew its defence against the claims for whiplash injuries on the M1 – leaving Judge Groarke only to assess the amount of damages.

The judge awarded €25,000 compensation to the woman who suffered the compression fracture, and €12,500 to her daughter, who had not suffered such severe injuries and who had made a full recovery. The three remaining claims for whiplash injuries on the M1 – made by other family members injured in the accident – will now likely be settled out of court.

Driver and Passenger Awarded Compensation for Whiplash Injuries

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.

Judge Awards Compensation for Exacerbating Whiplash Symptoms

Posted: December 5th, 2016

A judge at the Limerick Circuit Court has awarded a plaintiff €10,000 compensation for exacerbating whiplash symptoms sustained in previous accidents.

In March 2015, the plaintiff – – a thirty-eight year old father of two from Rhebogue in County Limerick – was waiting at a junction by the Thomond Bridge in Limerick when his employer´s work van was struck from behind by a hit-and-run driver. While the plaintiff was reporting the accident to his employer, the negligent driver sped off – hitting the wall in his rush to leave the scene of the accident.

The plaintiff attended his GP´s surgery the following day complaining of aggravating existing neck, shoulder and lower back injuries – injuries he had sustained in several previous road traffic accidents. He also complained of suffering psychological problems as a result of the accident, and is receiving injections to manage his physical injuries.

When the negligent driver responsible for causing the accident had been located, the plaintiff claimed compensation for exacerbating whiplash injuries. However, the negligent driver´s insurance company refused to give its consent for the Injuries Board to conduct an assessment, and the plaintiff was given an authorisation to claim compensation for exacerbating whiplash injuries through the court system.

The case was heard last week at Limerick Circuit Court, where legal representatives for Liberty Insurance – the negligent driver´s insurance company – told Judge James O´Donohue that the plaintiff had made many similar claims in the past. The representatives read out a long list of previous successful injury compensation claims stretching back almost twenty years – including five in which a road traffic accident had exacerbated previous whiplash symptoms.

The judge was also told that the plaintiff was receiving disability benefits for his existing injuries, and was only allowed to work a certain number of hours each week. Commenting that the plaintiff had been “well compensated in the past”, Judge O´Donohue awarded him €10,000 compensation for exacerbating whiplash symptoms and his costs – describing the plaintiff as a “very unfortunate injury prone individual”.

UK Solicitor Comments on Insurance Industry Whiplash Claims

Posted: April 15th, 2015

A leading UK solicitor has published an opinion piece in which she argues that insurance industry whiplash claims are out of proportion.

Ruth Bennett – a specialist in road traffic compensation claims in the UK – wrote her Op-Ed in response to insurance industry whiplash claims by Aviva Liverpool Ltd that the UK´s “compensation culture” was to blame for a forecast 9% year-on-year increase in whiplash injury compensation claims.

According to Aviva Liverpool Ltd, too many fraudulent and exaggerated claims are still being made, and the company speculated that the total number of whiplash injury claims in 2014/15 would exceed 840,000. The company´s press release proposed further changes to whiplash injury legislation that would reduce the number of claimants eligible to claim compensation for whiplash injuries.

Ms Bennett attacked suggestions that the Statute of Limitations for whiplash injury compensation claims should be reduced to twelve months (from three years in the UK) and proposals that – in order to be eligible for whiplash compensation – a claimant must have displayed symptoms of an injury for at least three months.

She added that the Government has already introduced several changes that make it harder for genuinely injured people to claim compensation when they have been hurt in an accident for which they were not at fault, and said that the need for further changes was unnecessary. Ms Bennett also attacked the insurance industry whiplash claims for being misleading.

In a further attack on the insurance industry whiplash claims, Ms Bennett argued that, if insurance companies believed that a “compensation culture existed”, they should be the ones to address the problem. She said that if it was believed by the insurance industry that whiplash claims were fraudulent or exaggerate, why not challenge them in court.

She concluded by saying that the insurance companies promised car insurance premiums would come down when the previous series of changes to whiplash compensation law were made. It did not materialise last time, she argues, and would be unlikely to happen if further changes were made to appease the insurance industry.

Although Ms Bennett´s comments applied to insurance industry whiplash claims made in the UK, the same story applies in Ireland, where there has been a failure by insurance companies to reduce car insurance premiums despite huge savings in litigation costs due to the introduction of the injuries board.  And still the insurance companies complain about whiplash injury compensation claims!

Legal Action for Whiplash Injuries Settled Out of Court

Posted: November 25th, 2014

An actress´s legal action for whiplash injuries has been settled out of court during the first day of a hearing in Dublin.

Former “Fair City” actress – Rebecca Smith – took legal action for whiplash injuries after sustaining soft tissue damage on November 24th 2008 during a location shoot in the Mount Merrion Church area of Dublin.

Rebecca – who played the character of Annette Daly in the soap opera – was being filmed while a passenger in a car which was driven by a stuntman employed by RTE. During the filming of the sequence, Rebecca was thrown back and forth in the passenger seat as the stuntman was required to brake sharply on several occasions.

Immediately after shooting the scene, Rebecca – from Killiney, County Dublin – felt pain in her neck and was taken to a local VHI Swiftcare Clinic. Despite receiving prompt treatment, the pain in Rebecca´s neck extended down into her back and through her right arm. Rebecca experienced numbness and tingling all the way down to the fingers of her right hand.

Claiming that her injuries made it impossible for her to sleep, and that she was out of work for a week due to the injuries she sustained, Rebecca took legal action for whiplash injuries against the producers of the show – RTE – claiming that the company was negligent by failing to employ a stunt double during the scene and had thus failed to ensure her safety.

RTE disputed Rebecca´s allegations, and the Injuries Board issued Rebecca with an authorisation in order that Rebecca could pursue her legal action for whiplash injuries through the court process. However, on the first day of the hearing at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, Rebecca´s legal representative informed Mr Justice Raymond Groarke that the actress had settled her legal action for whiplash injuries and that the claim could be struck out by the court.

New Compensation Process will Delay Settlements of Whiplash Injury Compensation Claims

Posted: July 29th, 2014

Settlements of whiplash injury compensation claims could be delayed by up to three months following the introduction of the Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme.

The “Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme” is a new initiative due to be introduced on Friday 1st August which will enable the Department of Social Protection to recover welfare benefits paid to plaintiffs that directly relate to their whiplash accident.

Although likely to only affect the most seriously injured plaintiffs (due to the category of welfare benefit that is included in the new scheme), insurance companies will have to apply to the Department of Social Protection for a statement indicating the value of applicable welfare payments paid to the plaintiff over the previous five years.

The insurance company will then deduct the appropriate amount from settlements of whiplash injury compensation claims, send the repayment of the welfare benefits to the Department of Social Protection, and the balance to the plaintiff. The problem of delayed settlements is caused by the procedures that are involved.

The Department of Social Protection has four weeks in which to supply the insurance company with the statement of benefits paid; after which the insurance company must send the repayment to the Department and wait for a certificate of repayment to be received before sending the balance to the injured plaintiff. Depending on the efficiency of the Department and the insurance company, settlements of whiplash injury compensation claims could be delayed by up to three months.

It is important to note that the Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme only applies to plaintiffs who have received Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension, Injury Benefit, Illness Benefit, Partial Capacity Benefit or Incapacity Supplement as a direct result of their whiplash injury. Plaintiffs who have not received these benefits, will experience a much shorter delay while the Department of Social protection confirms that no deductions are to be made.

If you are not clear about the new process for settlements of whiplash injury compensation claims, you should speak with a solicitor at the first possible opportunity.

Awards of Compensation for Whiplash High on Injuries Board Figures

Posted: November 29th, 2013

The Injuries Board of Ireland has published a press release relating to motor liability claims in which awards of compensation for whiplash injuries are at the top of the list.

The figures released by the Injuries Board show that the Government body received 7,622 applications for the assessment of compensation when injuries had been sustained in a road traffic accident – approximately 75 percent of all the applications received by the Injuries Board in 2012.

The press release states that “the most prevalent injuries sustained in the vast majority of motor claims include soft tissue injuries (neck and back), and orthopaedic related injuries (fractures etc)” and comments that women make slightly more claims for whiplash injury compensation than their male counterparts.

There are several possible explanations for this:

  • Women generally have weaker neck muscles than men and are more prone to injury when a rear-end accident occurs
  • Women are more likely to be seated in the passenger seat when a rear-end accident occurs and not have the split second that a driver may have to brace prior to impact.
  • Car seats are designed to accommodate men, who are generally heavier and taller than women, so that the impact of a rear-end accident frequently results in more severe neck and upper back injuries

The statistics also showed that the average value of awards for car accident injuries in 2012 was €20,631, and that Donegal (11) and Cork (10) were the counties in which the highest number of fatal accidents due to somebody else´s negligence occurred.

Commenting on the figures, Patricia Byron – CEO of the Injuries Board – said “Our award trends indicate that the winter months are the most dangerous on our roads and we are urging all road users to be extra vigilant at this time. We awarded over €157m in compensation for injuries sustained in road traffic accidents last year which reflects the significant human cost of these accidents not to mention the social impact.”

Woman Fights Own Insurance Company to Recover Compensation for Whiplash Injury

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.

New Limits on Whiplash Injury Settlements Introduced

Posted: September 3rd, 2013

New limits on whiplash injury settlements have been introduced in the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 which have not found favour with representatives of the insurance industry.

Changes in the law introducedby the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 – previously referred to as the Courts Bill – will increase the upper limits on whiplash injury settlements that can be awarded/approved by the District Court from €6,384 to €15,000, and by the Circuit Court from €38,000 to €60,000.

When proposing the changes to the law earlier this year, Justice Minister Alan Shatter said that the new limits on whiplash injury settlements would result in a reduction in legal costs due to fewer personal injury compensation claims going to the High Court; however two representatives of the insurance industry have claimed that the new upper limits could add as much as 30% to car insurance premiums.

“Amounts Are Too High”

Commenting on the new limits on whiplash injury settlements, Ken Norgrove from Zurich Insurance said “There amounts are too high. The Personal Injuries Board was great for straightforward and uncontested injuries but people will now take their chances in the District Court”.

His sentiments were echoed by Ciaran Phelan – CEO of the Irish Brokers Association – who accused the Seanad of passing the legislation without consideration of the costs involved. “These changes will see thousands more cases reach the courts this year” he said, “which obviously will increase the legal costs for insurers [and] which will in turn be passed onto consumers”.

Both industry experts predicted that the new limits on whiplash compensation settlements will encourage plaintiffs to “have a go” at a better settlement by pursuing legal action, rather than settle their claims for whiplash injury compensation out of court.

Were Premiums to Rise Anyway?

The warning of higher motor insurance premiums came a day after it was revealed that insurance premiums were likely to rise in any event, because of underwriting losses made throughout the year by insurance companies who have been undercutting each other´s rates to attract business.

Whereas an underwriting loss is a common occurrence for car insurance companies, they normally make a profit on investments income from funds they have on deposit which covers the loss. However, in recent years the return on investment has fallen which has reduced the overall income of the insurance companies and could result in the increase in premiums suggested by Mr Norgrove and Mr Phelan – only not for the reasons they claim.

Woman Claims for Whiplash Injuries after Accident on an Escalator

Posted: August 7th, 2013

A woman from New Orleans, who suffered a neck injury when an escalator she was riding on came to a sudden stop, has made claims for whiplash injuries she alleges she received in the accident.

Gwendolyn Leonard from Gretna in Louisiana made her claims for whiplash injuries after an accident on the escalator between floors of the Boomtown Casino in New Orleans. Gwendolyn alleges in her claims that, when the mechanism jerked to a stop on 30th June 2012, she suffered neck injuries similar to those that would be sustained in a rear-end collision.

She accused the casino of failing in its duty of care to properly maintain and operate the escalator, and is claiming an unspecified amount of compensation for whiplash injuries to account for the pain and suffering she experienced at the time of the accident, her subsequent medical expenses and loss of earnings.

Gwendolyn filed her action against the casino on May 22nd at the 24th Judicial District Court in New Orleans, but as yet the casino has not indicated whether it will accept liability for Gwendolyn´s injuries or contest her claim.

Misdiagnosis Most Common Cause of Claims against GPs for Compensation finds RCSI

Posted: July 23rd, 2013

A report published in the British Medical Journal has identified that the misdiagnosis of injuries and illnesses is the most common cause of claims against GPs for compensation.

The report – “The Epidemiology of Malpractice Claims in Primary Care: A Systematic Review” was prepared by the Centre for Primary Care Research in Dublin on behalf of the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) and studied more than 7,000 claims against GP for compensation from Ireland and elsewhere around the world.

The report´s objective was to determine which areas of primary care in Ireland should receive special attention when it came to developing educational strategies and providing risk management mechanisms for front-line healthcare professionals including GPs and doctors working in hospital emergency departments.

The primary findings in the RCSI report were:-

  • Claims against GPs for compensation were most often made for the misdiagnosis – or a delayed diagnosis – of cancer of heart attacks
  • Medication errors – both prescription errors and administration errors – were also highlighted as common mistakes made in primary care
  • The errors most frequently cited when children were the patients were the misdiagnosis of appendicitis and delayed diagnosis of meningitis
  • Claims against GPs for compensation due to the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition appear to be on the increase year-on-year.

Dr Emma Wallace – the head researcher for the report – admitted that reviewing claims against GP for compensation was not the ideal substitute for accurately recording “adverse effects” in primary healthcare, but it had identified that more GPs and front-line health practitioners were practising more cautiously.

She said that, rather than attempt an accurate diagnosis themselves, more GPs were referring patients to consultants because of the fear of legal action if a mistake was made. This has the knock-on effect on placing more pressure on the Irish Health Service and potentially allowing an avoidable deterioration of an existing condition to go untreated.

It was also discovered that claims against GP for compensation often place front-line healthcare practitioners under greater levels of stress – reducing their ability to make an accurate diagnosis and placing patients at a higher risk of injury. Dr Wallace hopes that, with better educational strategies and risk management mechanisms, the report will help improve the standard of healthcare provided by front-line health practitioners and reduce the number of claims against GPs for compensation.

Insurance Company to Pay Out Aggravated Damages for a Whiplash Claim

Posted: June 25th, 2012

An insurance company has been order to pay aggravated damages for a whiplash claim after it failed to pursue accusations of collusion against the defendant, James O’Sullivan of Clane, Co Kildare. Insurance company AXA had claimed that O’Sullivan had colluded with a defence witness to extract compensation from the company.

O’Sullivan’s taxi had been rear-ended by Gary Reilly, of Ballyfermot, Co Dublin, who later swore an affidavit concerning the accident. Reilly rear-ended O’Sullivan’s taxi in Eirhouse, Co Dublin on September 27, 2008.

Mr Justice Matthew Deery ordered AXA to pay €3,000 in aggravated damages for a whiplash claim to O’Sullivan after they failed to pursue the accusation, in addition to €7,750 for the whiplash injury.

Siblings Awarded €56,000 for Whiplash Injury Claim

Posted: January 25th, 2011

Three young siblings have been awarded a combined €56,000 for their whiplash injury claim after the car in which they were travelling with their mother was rear-ended in January 2007. The children had suffered recurrent and protracted symptoms and have had to visit their GP and a specialist, Mr Justice Matthew Deery heard during the claim, which was brought by the children’s father Thomas Hopkins on their behalf.

Rachel Hopkins (9) and her brothers Daniel (10) and Thomas (7) from Broadford, Co Kildare were hurt when their mother’s car was rear-ended by Monica Carey from Lucan, Co Dublin. Daniel and Thomas received awards of €20,000 each as their injuries are thought to be more problematic than Rachael’s, who received €16,000.

The children’s awards will be paid into court funds where they will remain until the they reach eighteen years of age.

Whiplash Claim Dismissed Due to Misleading Evidence

Posted: August 12th, 2010

Evidence submitted by Dublin Bus against a whiplash claimant from Finglas, Dublin has led a judge to conclude that it was “highly probable” that the claimant mislead the court when she pursued a claim for whiplash against the company.

Mr Justice John Quirke ruled against Mary Farrell who was caught on camera mowing her grass and emptying the grass box over a wall – actions which should have been impossible given the supposed nature of her condition.

Dublin Bus also submitted evidence that Farrell, who was attempting to claim €410,000 in damages from the company, had made a number of expensive purchases in the time after her accident including foreign holidays and expensive cars – activity Dublin Bus dubbed as inconsistent with the claim for loss of earnings and future loss of earnings being pursued by Farrell.

Farrell had been involved in an accident with a Dublin Bus owned vehicle at the junction of the North Circular Road and Dorset Street near Dublin City Centre on June 14, 2004.

Dublin Bus asked Justice Quirke to dismiss Farrell’s claim under the provision of the Civil Liability and Courts Act which allows for the dismissal of a compensation claim when a judge believes that misleading evidence has been presented by a claimant.

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