Whiplash from Traffic 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: 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.
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: 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: March 16th, 2017
A “talented” musician has been awarded €25,000 in compensation for a shoulder injury she sustained in a road accident in Dublin.
On Wexford Street in Dublin in March 2012, one taxi rear-ended another. The passenger in the front taxi-a thirty-three year old musician from Ardnacrusha in County Clare-suffered pain in her neck and right shoulder as a result of the accident. The was diagnosed with soft tissue damage, and prescribed painkillers for her injury by her GP when she sought medical attention the day following the incident.
The woman sought legal advice for pursing a claim for compensation for her injuries. Following the advice her solicitor, the woman applied to the Injuries Board for an assessment of her claim, The negligent taxi driver accepted liability for causing the accident and her injuries. However, the amount of the assessment of compensation for her injuries was rejected by the woman, who happened to be a musician. She claimed the proposed settlement of compensation for an injury in a taxi accident did not reflect the full consequences of her injury, as it affected her ability to play violin.
The case was heard at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, after the Injuries Board issued an authorisation for the woman to pursue her claim in court. Mr Justice Raymond Groarke presided over the case. He heard how the pain in her right shoulder prevented the woman from practising her violin several hours a day. In contest to this, the judge was also told by the defendant´s insurance company that her injury was unrelated to the “insignificant” collision between the two vehicles.
The judge stated that the medical evidence in the case was “very conflicting”. The judge did conclude that the injuries from the accident were “not particularly serious”, and that the woman was likely to make a full recover. In spite of this, the judge acknowledged that the woman needed a perfect shoulder to practise her violin and as such it was an exceptional case, as she had been described as a “talented musician” in court.
Judge Groarke finally awarded the woman €25,000 compensation for an injury in a taxi accident, stating he accepted the plaintiff´s belief that the discomfort she suffers is related to the March 2012 accident.
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”.