Posted: August 18th, 2020
At the Court of Appeal a Whiplash compensation award figure has been revised down to €41,000.
The ruling was made in relation to an award of €70,000 that was approved in December 2019. The woman in question, Emma McKeown, had been awarded the compensation as a result of the whiplash injuries that she sustained in a road traffic accident during 2017. Following this amount being approved at the High Court an appeal against the figure awarded by the defendants, Alan Crosby and Mary Vocella.
In the ruling that was released Court of Appeal judge Mr Justice Seamus Noonan commented that Emma that McKeown was honest and he was of the belief that she did not exaggerate her injuries. He continued delivering the ruling saying that the amount of whiplash injury compensation that was awarded in the case was much too high.
He said: “Taking into account all the relevant factors to which I have referred in the context of the proportionality of the award in this case, I am satisfied that by any reasonable measure it cannot be viewed as proportionate. It is not proportionate when viewed against the measure of the maximum for the most serious injuries. The cost of (motor, public or employer’s liability) insurance is for most ordinary people and businesses, a significant outgoing. The extent to which awards by courts influence that cost is in recent times, a matter of widespread public discourse, debate and dispute.
The Court of Appeal ruling amended the compensation figure to general damages of €35,000 plus agreed special damages of €6,000, making in total €41,000.
The Judge went on to comment on the link between large compensation awards and increasing insurance premiums: “Whatever the reality may be, it is clear that awards made by the courts have an impact on society as a whole and the courts are mindful of that fact. Ultimately each member of society must bear the cost of a compensation system whether through the payment of insurance premia in the case of private defendants or taxes in the case of public defendants. Society thus has a direct interest in the level of awards. Frequently, the identity of the trial judge would not be known until moments before the case actually commenced, resulting in varying outcomes depending on the ‘draw’. It is clear that this has the potential for injustice. It cannot be fair to either plaintiff or defendant that the value of their case depends on the identity of the trial judge.”
He finished saying: “Personal injury litigation should not be a lottery and plaintiffs and defendants alike are entitled to reasonable consistency and predictability. This is particularly important in the context of injuries which fall at the lower end of the spectrum as these constitute the vast bulk of cases, most commonly involving soft tissue, or ‘whiplash’ injuries.”