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: July 31st, 2018
A bus passenger who was injured after a man ran onto a road in front of a bus to attack a group of Asian people, has been awarded €25,000 in the Circuit Civil Court.
Judge Terence O’Sullivan was told that the man had thrown a bottle at the group and then “turned on a sixpence in a millisecond” giving a Dublin Bus driver little chance to prevent the bus from hitting him despite hitting the brakes. Susan Lennox BL told the court Rachel Hardiman (28) was travelling on the bus at the time and had been thrown forward sustaining injuries to her face, neck, shoulders and arm in the incident that occurred on September 23, 2012.
Judge O’Sullivan, in awarding Ms Hardiman €25,000 bus injury compensation and costs against Dublin Bus, said although the driver had raised his foot off the accelerator after seeing the man on the road, the court did not consider this to have been a adequate course of action. He also granted Dublin Bus an order for €25,000 and costs against Mr Richardson, the man who threw the bottle in the incident leading to the accident.
Mr O’Herlihy said the bus driver did not have a chance of avoiding Mr Richardson after he had run onto the roadway, taken a bottle from his pocket and thrown it, and then ran back across the roadway.
Judge O’Sullivan, awarding Ms Hardiman €25,000 damages and costs against Dublin Bus, said that although the bus driver had lifted his foot off the accelerator after seeing the man on the roadway the court did not consider this to have been enough.
The judge felt any prudent driver would have had adequate time to slow down as drivers could not always expect pedestrians to do precisely what they expected. The bus driver had made an assumption that the pedestrian was going to continue across the road instead of turning back. However, this is not what transpired.
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: December 22nd, 2015
A judge in Dublin’s High Court has awarded compensation for emotional trauma to a fourteen-year-old boy after a fire in his home left him traumatised.
The accident occurred when a Hotpoint dishwasher burst into flames in a family home in Kinnegad, Co. Westmeath on the 26th June 2010. The entire Monds family, who owned the home, managed to escape the burning building with little physical damage, though they could not live in their house until the following spring.
One of the Monds’ children, Aaron – who was just nine years old at the time – was severely affected by the fire. He suffered from a known intellectual disability, and the fire exacerbated his obsessive-compulsive tendencies to include checking and rechecking that electrical appliances were turned off.
Henry Monds, Aaron’s father, made a claim for emotional trauma compensation on his son’s behalf against Indesit UK Ltd, who manufacture Hotpoint appliances. AN investigation had attributed the start of the fire to a fault in the appliance, and after the company admitted liability, the case proceeded to the High Court. This was necessary because the claim was made on behalf of a minor.
The case was overseen by Mr Justice Bernard Barton, who heard evidence of how Aaron was still badly affected through night terrors and anxiety around fires. Testimony was also given that therapy was helping to relive some of the symptoms, though Aaron was still anxious that another fire could occur.
After accepting Aaron’s medical evidence and diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, Judge Barton awarded Aaron a compensation settlement of €51,244. The judge ordered that this settlement be paid into court fund unit Aaron reached the age of eighteen.
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.
Posted: November 22nd, 2012
A young girl from Tuam, Co Galway has been awarded €200,000 in car accident compensation for a child after she suffered severe spinal injuries and witnessed her sister and best friend die in a car crash caused by her mother, who had already been banned from driving.
Twelve-year-old Faith Varden-Carberry, whose injuries were so severe that she had to undergo emergency treatment at the scene before she could be rushed to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, Dublin, was driven into an embankment outside Edgeworthstown, Co Longford along with her sister Ava (6) and best friend Michela Logan by Mary Carberry (36).
Carberry, who had been disqualified from driving because of a previous accident, was found to have been over the legal alcohol limit at the time of the crash and was later arrested and sentenced to six years in prison.
Faith, who received compensation for physical and emotional trauma, now lives with her step-father and made a claim for car accident compensation for a child through her grandfather, Anthony Carberry. The claim was pursued against both Faith’s mother and father, Thomas Varden, who was the owner of the car in which Faith had been travelling.
The claim against Thomas was later dropped, and as Faith’s mother had been banned from driving and thus was uninsured, the claim was pursued against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI).
At the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Charleton said that the €200,000 settlement was being awarded to Faith for damages only. Justice Charelton also approved a request for the release of €2,000 for a computer to be used by Faith for her schoolwork.
Posted: April 7th, 2012
A New York volunteer firefighter has been awarded an injury compensation settlement of $1.275 million for injuries he sustained in a collision on a road adjacent to the NYE Ford factory in Oneida, New York. Paul Tully’s vehicle was struck by a car being driven by Ford employee Keith Chase, leaving him with serious spine and head injuries.
The award was granted by a jury who deliberated on damages only, as liability had already been admitted. Chase had already admitted to not looking left down Genesse Street and that he had pulled away from the manufacturing plant without realising that Paul’s car was in front of him. Chase made the admission during an investigation into the accident.
The $1.275 million settlement was decided upon by the Oneida Supreme Court jury after the court heard how Paul had been unable to work since the accident, and that the cost of his treatment had placed a substantial financial burden on his family. Paul had rejected a $150,000 settlement offer prior to his claim being heard in court.
After deliberating, the jury decided to award Paul $650,000 for the pain and suffering he has experienced as a result of his injury, $200,000 for the pain and suffering he will experience in future, and an additional $400,000 to cover the medical treatment he has underwent and the help he will require in future.
Posted: February 25th, 2012
A man who suffered catastrophic brain injuries in a crash after being ejected from a car being driven by an uninsured driver has had his claim for compensation approved by a judge at the High Court. The claimant, who pursed his claim against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) as no insurance policy was available to be claimed from, was 19 years old at the time of his accident in March 2008.
The man – who is a ward of court and cannot be named for legal reasons – now requires permanent nursing care and can only communicate through a ‘thumbs up or thumbs down’ system. As the victim wasn’t wearing his seatbelt at the time of the accident his award was reduced by 20 percent to €4.25 million to represent his own contribution to his injury.
Ms Justice Mary Irvine ordered an additional payment of €544,000 to the victim’s foster mother to cover expenses associated with his care. Justice Irvine said that the settlement was an excellent award, and that it will provide enough funding to cover the cost of the victim’s care for catastrophic brain injuries in a crash for the rest of his life.
Posted: March 15th, 2011
A whiplash victim has been awarded €16,000 in compensation after claiming that his injuries adversely affected his weight loss programme and led to him developing sleep apnoea. Declan O’Hora of Blessington, County Wicklow claimed that his injuries left him unable to swim – an integral part of his weight loss programme.
O’Hora, who suffered head and neck injuries following a road traffic accident in 2008, suffered head and neck injuries after being involved in a collision with Brian Duggan of Knocklyon, County Dublin,
As liability had already been conceded, Mr Justice Matthew Deery only had to determine how much compensation was to be paid to O’Hora.
Posted: October 15th, 2010
A woman from Belturbet, County Cavan has been awarded €5 million in compensation by the High Court after suffering injuries in a car crash which mean that she will require carer assistance for the rest of her life. Caroline Bogue suffered brain injuries when the uninsured car in which she was traveling hit a tree.
Because the car was uninsured, the claim was taken against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland, as well as the car’s driver, Declan Bogue, and its owner Ciaran Bogue.
The settlement was arranged without liability being admitted. The defendants refused to admit liability, claiming that Caroline knew that the car was uninsured and that it was taken without the permission of the owner.
Posted: November 23rd, 2009
Two Buffalo Department of Street Sanitation workers have been awarded $3.25m for injuries they sustained during a collision in which their rubbish lorry was impacted by a commercial vehicle which had broken a red light.
The workers, who were performing sanitation duties at the time of their accident, required extensive treatment following the crash: both required spinal fusion surgery to address injuries sustained for back, knee, neck and head injuries.
The award was made after an eighteen month Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) failed to produce an agreement and it became clear that the claim would go to court.