Whiplash from Car Accidents
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: February 14th, 2018
Since 2016 there has been a 10% increase in the number of accident compensation claims, accidents involving uninsured or untraceable drivers, that were submitted to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI).
Insurance sector sources point to the fact that the rising expense of insurance premiums could be a huge factor in the increase in claims registered.
Set up in 1955, the MIBI was put in place to compensate individuals involved in car and road accidents caused the drivers of uninsured and unidentified vehicles. Insurance companies are required to contribute to its operation.
The MIBI awards between €55 million and €60 million in insurance awards on an annual basis with €55,364 per claim being the average figure awarded.
Co Dublin registered 41 per cent of all compensation claims (1,140) handled by the MIBI during 2017.
Across the country, the highest percentage increase was recorded in Leitrim with 70%.
Other increases include:
- Roscommon at 60 per cent
- Carlow at 43 per cent
- Monaghan at 42 per cent.
MIBI figures show that in total, 2,758 compensation claims for accidents involving uninsured drivers or untraceable vehicles was registered throughout 2017, a small increase on the 2,802 claims made during the previous year.
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: 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.”
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.
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: February 17th, 2015
A €10,000 settlement of passenger whiplash injury compensation has been awarded by a Circuit Civil Court judge after a hearing in Dublin.
At the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, Circuit President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard how John Connors from Saggart in Dublin was a passenger in a car when it collided with a wall on Kiltipper Road in Tallaght on 2nd December 2010.
John – who was fifteen years of age at the time – was treated at the Tallaght Hospital for soft tissue injuries to his neck and back, and returned to the hospital several times to receive physiotherapy on his injuries.
On John´s behalf, his father had made a claim for passenger whiplash injury compensation against the driver of the car – John´s aunt, Bridget Connors. Liability for the accident and John´s injuries was admitted, but John´s father was not happy with the assessment of the claim by the Injuries Board.
An authorisation was issued by the Injuries Board, and the case went before Judge Groarke for his assessment of passenger whiplash injury compensation.
In court, the judge was told that confusion existed over John´s claim, as a similar claim had been made in County Cork. John told the judge that his father (now deceased) had taken him to see a firm of solicitors, but he did not remember who the solicitors were or how to find them.
As the claim for passenger whiplash injury compensation was before Judge Groarke for the assessment of damages only, the judge enquired about any long-term consequences John had suffered as a result of the accident four years ago.
John replied that the soft tissue injuries in his neck and back had healed, but told the judge that he had an unrelated liver condition that meant he could not drink alcohol and that would eventually lead to premature aging.
Judge Groarke awarded John €10,000 passenger whiplash injury compensation and the costs of bringing his legal action. The judge commented that the fact John had suffered soft tissue injuries was not in doubt and liability had not been contested.
Posted: August 19th, 2014
A woman´s passenger whiplash injury compensation claim has been settled for $3.1 million after a trial at the Superior Court of California in Pasadena.
Teresa Gamage (59) from Beverley Hills in California brought her passenger whiplash injury compensation claim after being hurt in a low-impact collision in May 2011. The vehicle in which Teresa was a front seat passenger was waiting at a red light near Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles when it was rear-ended at low speed by a car driven by Estelle Roitblat.
Teresa immediately felt a pain in her neck and attended her doctor the same day. An MRI scan revealed that Teresa had ruptured the C5-6 disc in her neck and, due to the soft tissue injuries also sustained in the accident, it was pressing against her spinal cord and causing her considerable pain.
Doctors attempted to manage the pain with epidural injections and physical therapy, but in November 2011 Teresa had to undergo fusion surgery. Due to the costs of the mounting medical expenses, Teresa sought legal advice and made a passenger whiplash injury compensation claim against Roitblat.
Roitblat contested the claim on the grounds that the impact between the two cars had caused only minimal damage and was insufficient to cause such a serious injury. Roitblat´s insurance company also contested Teresa´s claim on the grounds that the amount being claimed was excessive.
Roitblat´s insurers offered Teresa a settlement of her passenger whiplash injury compensation claim amounting to $87,000 – a fraction her medical expenses – and the offer was rejected by Teresa´s solicitors. Consequently the case was presented to a jury at the Superior Court of California in Pasadena before Judge Jan Pluim.
During the trial, Roitblat´s solicitors pressed the case that neither Teresa´s claim nor the amount of compensation she was asking for could be justified. However, after four hours of deliberations, the jury delivered a verdict in favour of Teresa and awarded her $3.1 million in resolution of her passenger whiplash injury compensation claim.
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.”
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: November 12th, 2012
A woman from Berkshire, England has been awarded €9,000 in compensation at the High Court for neck injuries she sustained during a Go-Karting accident at Kylemore Indoor Karting racetrack in Dublin. Karen Wimpory (31) had been in Dublin on a hen’s party weekend at the time of the accident in March 2009.
Wimpory, who signed a disclaimer stating that the track owner could not be held liable for injury “in the absence of any negligence on the party of the company” and watched a training video prior to getting into her kart, was injured when a race marshal stepped out onto the track without warning, causing her to brake and the driver behind her to slam into the back of her kart.
After her accident Wimpory sought legal advice from a personal injury claims solicitor and pursued a claim for neck injury compensation against Grovepark Services Ltd, which trades as Kylemore Karting, claiming that the neck injuries she sustained were the brought about by the negligence of the company.
Justice Matthew Deery decided to approve Wimpory’s request for neck injury compensation after deciding that despite the fact that the plaintiff had watched a safety video, there were no instructions provided to her about what to do if the warning lights on the track were illuminated. Deery also heard how the karts did not have neck restrains or headrests fitted, and how novice racers should have been told to sit at full extension.
Two of Kylemore Karting’s management team, racetrack designer Stewart Cosgrave and race controller Denis Gaffney, said that although it was unlikely that a race marshal would walk onto the track while the karts were travelling at speeds in excess of twenty miles per hour, the marshal in question is not available to provide evidence as he has since died in a road traffic accident.
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.
Posted: May 22nd, 2011
Claims for whiplash injury compensation in the UK are the highest among all European countries, James Dalton, Assistant Director of Motor and Liability for the Association of British Insurers has claimed.
Dalton, who was speaking at the 2011 Whiplash Conference in Leeds, said that claims for whiplash account for two-thirds of all compensation claims pursued in the UK, and that insurance companies are paying out almost two billion pounds per year to claimants. Dalton called for the government to quickly implement their proposals for civil justice reform.
According to the Association of British Insurers 1,200 claims for whiplash are made in the UK every day – six times the amount of claims pursued for work related injuries. The sheer volume of whiplash complaints adds around £74 to each insurance policy in the UK, say the Association.
Dalton claims that civil justice reform measures proposed by the Government would mean a decrease in fraudulent claims for whiplash injury compensation; and that genuine claimants would receive fairer settlements and quicker access to rehabilitation.