Judge Awards Maximum Circuit Civil Court Compensation to Pensioner

A pensioner has been awarded the maximum possible Civil Circuit Court compensation for an injury she sustained in a pallet trolley accident at Dunnes Stores.

In the summer of 2014, Christina O´Reilly (88) from Dublin was shopping at Dunnes Stores in the city´s Northside Shopping Centre, when an employee of the store accidently pushed a pallet trolley into her back due to the trolley being stacked above eye level.

Although Christina was not knocked to the floor, the accident aggravated an existing back condition – leaving the pensioner in constant pain and now unable to take part in many of the social pursuits she previously enjoyed.

Christina made a claim for injury compensation against Dunnes Stores. However the store declined to consent to an Injuries Board assessment and Christina was issued with an authorisation to seek Circuit Civil Court compensation. The hearing recently went ahead after a long delay caused by Dunnes Stores compiling its defence.

At the hearing, Judge Jacqueline Linnane heard that Dunnes Stores was willing to admit liability for Christina´s injury. In assessing the amount of Circuit Civil court compensation Christina was entitled to, the judge heard from members of her family, who testified that Christina was now unable to do her own shopping and relied on the family for support.

Judge Linnane awarded Christina the maximum amount of Circuit Civil Court compensation possible – €60,000 – allowing a stay on the award subject to an appeal. As a condition of the stay, Judge Linnane stipulated that Dunnes Stores should pay Christina €45,000 compensation immediately and decide upon an appeal quickly because of Christina´s age.

The maximum Circuit Civil Court compensation award for personal injury was increased in 2014 to €60,000 from €38,092 to relieve the pressure on the number of cases being heard by the High Court. The change was also intended to resolve personal injury claims in a shorter timeframe when a resolution could not be found through the Injuries Board process.


Claim for an Accident at Dublin Zoo Resolved at High Court

A woman´s claim for an accident at Dublin Zoo has been resolved following a hearing at the High Court and an award of €105,000 injury compensation.

In June 2011, forty-three year old Gwen Kane took her family to Dublin Zoo to celebrate the birthday of her youngest son. As she was pushing her son in his buggy alongside the sea lion enclosure, Gwen slipped on a manhole cover that was still wet from the previous night´s rain and fell, dislocating her right ankle.

Gwen – from Firhouse in Dublin – was taken to hospital, where her ankle was put into a plaster cast. The cast remained in place for seven weeks, after which Gwen was on crutches for a further nine weeks until her ankle had fully healed. Despite being able to discard the crutches, Gwen still experiences pain in her ankle.

Gwen applied to the Injuries Board for an assessment of compensation but, even though the Zoological Society of Ireland consented to the assessment, the Injuries Board figure was contested. Gwen was subsequently issued with an authorisation to pursue her claim for an accident at Dublin Zoo through the courts.

At the subsequent hearing at the High Court, Mr Justice Anthony Barr heard that the Zoological Society of Ireland had agreed it had been negligent by failing to clear rainwater away from walkways and viewing and that, as a consequence of her accident, Gwen was unable to continue her hobbies of Breton folk dancing, cycling and long-distance walking.

Judge Barr awarded Gwen €105,000 in settlement of her claim for an accident at Dublin Zoo – commenting he was satisfied Gwen had given a fair and accurate account of the consequences of her accident. In addition to the settlement for her pain and suffering, the judge also awarded Gwen €9,988 special damages to account for the financial cost of her injury.


Judge Awards Injury Compensation for a Jogger Hit by Van Mirror

A High Court judge has awarded €134,000 injury compensation for a jogger hit by a van mirror after finding the driver of the van liable for the accident.

Forty-seven year old Donna Woods – a school teacher from Mullingar in County Westmeath – was jogging along the Ballynacarragy to Mullingar road in January 2013, when she was hit by the wing mirror of a van travelling in the opposite direction. Donna sustained a fractured wrist due to the impact of the van mirror and was treated at hospital for other injuries to her hand, elbow, shoulder and jaw.

Donna applied to the Injuries Board for an assessment of injury compensation for a jogger, but the driver of the van – Joseph Tyrell – denied that he was totally to blame for Donna´s injuries and refused to give his consent for the assessment to take place. Donna was subsequently issued with an authorisation to pursue her claim in court, and the hearing took place earlier this week.

At the hearing, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that, on 22nd January 2013, Donna and her friend were jogging along the road against the oncoming traffic and that a tractor and trailer combination had just passed them on the far side of the road.

The two joggers had seen Tyrell pull over onto the grass verge alongside the road to give the tractor a wide berth, but believed he would return to the carriageway once the tractor had passed and continued running towards the van. However, Tyrell continued to drive along the grass verge – the wing mirror of his van hitting Donna and causing her injuries.

Defending the claim for injury compensation for a jogger, Tyrell alleged that Donna was guilty of contributory negligence because she and her friend had run two abreast against the traffic without wearing high-visibility clothing. The judge dismissed the claim of contributory negligence by noting that Donna had been wearing bright clothing on the morning of the accident.

Acknowledging that Donna had previously been a “very active lady”, and that the injuries she had sustained in the accident had prevented her from competing in physically demanding sporting activities, the judge found in Donna´s favour and awarded her €134,000 injury compensation for a jogger hit by a van mirror.


Claim for Slipping on Wet Leaves at Work Resolved in Court

A claim for slipping on wet leaves at work has been resolved at the Circuit Civil Court with the award of €25,879 injury compensation to a kitchen assistant.

On 19th November 2012, Ann Groves (58) was walking along a path towards the back entrance of the Baltinglass Hospital when she slipped on wet leaves and injured her ankle. Ann – who worked at the hospital as a kitchen assistant – was able to reduce the swelling with an ice pack and later attended her GP, who strapped Ann´s ankle for support after diagnosing a soft tissue injury.

Unfortunately the pain from the ankle injury continued. Unable to sleep, walk or stand for long periods, Ann sought medical attention from a number of specialists. She underwent sessions of physiotherapy and acupuncture before having a spinal cord stimulated surgically implanted in 2014; which although it helped with the pain, did not resolve the problem completely.

On her solicitor´s advice, Ann made a claim for slipping on wet leaves at work against her employer – the Health Service Executive (HSE). The HSE denied responsibility for Ann´s injury at work, contesting the claim on the grounds that a sage cleaning system was in place at the hospital, and that Ann had contributed to her accident and subsequent injury due to her own lack of care.

With no agreement on liability, the Injuries Board issued Ann with an authorisation to pursue her claim for slipping on wet leaves at work through the courts. The case was heard earlier this week by Judge Barry Hickson at the Circuit Civil Court, who was told that Ann´s accident had occurred early on a Monday morning after a particularly stormy weekend.

The judge found in Ann´s favour and dismissed the HSE´s claims of contributory negligence after hearing evidence from a maintenance engineer who testified that the maintenance team at the hospital started work after the kitchen assistants. The judge awarded Ann €25,879 compensation in settlement of her claim for slipping on wet leaves at work.


Court Awards Compensation for a Waitress Hand Injury after Hearing

The High Court has awarded a woman €500,000 compensation for a waitress hand injury after finding jugs used in a hotel breakfast bar were unfit for purpose.

Sophie Caillaud (42) claimed compensation for a waitress hand injury after suffering a deep cut in her thumb when a glass jug she was filling at the Lough Rynn Hotel in Mohill, County Leitrim shattered in her hand.

Sophie underwent surgery to repair the soft damage tissue in her thumb but, due to the thumb failing to regain its strength, Sophie has been unable to return to waitressing since her accident – the injury also affecting her ability to perform day-to-day activities.

After seeking legal advice, Sophie claimed compensation for a waitress hand injury against the hotel and the two companies that manufactured and supplied the glass jugs to the hotel – Bunzl Outsourcing Ltd and Utopia Tableware Ltd.

The defendants contested the claim for compensation for a waitress hand injury due to the amount that was being requested and because, it was argued, that Sophie had contributed to the cause of her accident through her own negligence.

As the claim could not be resolved through the Injuries Board process or through negotiation, the case went to the High Court, where it was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. At the hearing, Judge Cross was told that staff members had previously reported injuries due to the glass jugs shattering.

Judge Cross also heard testimony from an expert, who explained that the rapid cooling and heating of the jugs when used in a dishwasher weakened the joint between the jug´s thick handle and its thinner body. The expert concluded that the jugs were unfit for purpose.

After hearing evidence from Sophie, the judge also dismissed the allegations of contributory negligence and suggestions that Sophie was exaggerating her injuries. Commenting he found Sophie to be “entirely genuine”, Judge Cross awarded her €500,000 compensation for a waitress hand injury.


Cabin Crew Assistant Settles Injury Claim for a Slip on a Plane

A cabin crew assistant, who was injured on a flight from Palma to Dublin, has settled her injury claim for a slip on a plane for an undisclosed amount.

Gabrielle McGovern from Blanchardstown in Dublin was working as a cabin crew assistant aboard an Air IOM flight from Palma to Dublin when, on 26th June 2012, she slipped on a discarded plastic rubbish bag that had been left on the galley floor of the 737 aeroplane.

Gabrielle sustained injuries to her back and shoulder when she fell and has since had to undergo lumbar surgery to repair the damage to her back. Due to the pain she still experiences in her back, Gabrielle has been unable to work as a cabin crew assistant since her accident.

Following a discussion with a solicitor, Gabrielle made an injury claim for a slip on a plane against Air IOM Ltd and Air Contractors (Ireland) Ltd. She alleged in her injury claim that the defendants had not provided a method of safely securing the plastic rubbish bags to prevent the risk of injury.

Air IOM Ltd and Air Contractors (Ireland) Ltd denied their liability for Gabrielle´s injury and contested her injury claim for a slip on a plane on the grounds of contributory negligence. Consequently, the case went to the High Court to determine liability. The hearing took place last week before Mr Justice Raymond Fullam.

At the hearing, Judge Fullam was told that plastic bags had been introduced to store rubbish following the sealing of the rubbish bins as a security measure and the storage of the plastic bags – both when empty and full – was an issue that affected all the cabin crew working on Air IOM flights. He also heard that the plastic bags occasionally split open, allowing rubbish to spill onto the floor of the galley.

However, before Air IOM Ltd and Air Contractors (Ireland) Ltd had the opportunity to present their defence against the injury claim for a slip on a plane, Judge Fullam was told that Gabrielle´s claim had been settled for an undisclosed amount and the case could be struck.


Court Awards €153,000 Compensation for a Workplace Manual Lifting Injury

A former picker at a Dublin distribution centre has been awarded €153,150 compensation for a workplace manual lifting injury by a judge at the High Court.

Forty-seven year old Slovakian, Salmovir Spes, made his workplace manual lifting injury claim after hurting his back while working at the Windcanton distribution centre in Blanchardstown, Dublin. Salmovir´s job at the distribution centre was to manually lift or “pick” goods from pallets and load the goods onto trolleys for transportation to twenty-four Supervalu supermarkets in the area.

Salmovir´s injury occurred on October 29th 2011 as he was lifting trays of yoghurts from a pallet. As he turned to place the yoghurts onto a trolley, Salmovir felt a sharp pain in his back. Although he went home immediately to rest his back, and then sought prompt medical attention, Salmovir was unable to return to work at the distribution centre. He remained on sick leave until 2014 when he was made redundant.

Salmovir claimed compensation for a workplace manual lifting injury, but Windcanton withheld their consent for the Injuries Board to conduct an assessment. Salmovir was subsequently issued with an authorisation to pursue compensation for a workplace manual lifting injury through the courts, and his case was heard recently at the High Court by Mr Justice Anthony Barr.

At the hearing, Judge Barr heard that Salmovir was set a “pick rate” of 1,200 picks per seven-and-a-half hour shift. It was alleged by Salmovir that he had not been trained in the correct way of manually lifting goods in a safe way to meet his target, and that he was especially selected for heavy manual lifting because of his nationality.

The defence argued that Salmovir had not been treated differently than any other employee, that adequate training was provided and that workers were given refresher courses at regular intervals. It was suggested that Salmovir´s injury had been caused by his own negligence due to taking a short cut in the correct procedures.

Judge Barr found in Salmovir´s favour – commenting he was satisfied that Salmovir´s back injury was attributable to a lack of adequate training, unreasonably high pick rates and being forced to take short cuts to meet his target. The judge said there was no evidence to support Salmovir´s allegations of discrimination or the defence´s argument that Salmovir had contributed to his injury through his own lack of care.

The judge awarded Salmovir €153,150 compensation for a workplace manual lifting injury, saying he was satisfied that the plaintiff had suffered a significant injury to his lower back due to his employer´s negligence that not only rendered him “permanently disabled in the work aspects of his life”, but also continued to cause him pain in his day-to-day domestic activities.


Negligence Determined in Claim for a Workplace Accident at Dunnes

A High Court judge has found Dunnes Stores negligent in a claim for a workplace accident in Dunnes, made by an employee who fell down a flight of stairs.

Jean O´Reilly from Wexford was employed as a checkout operator at her local Dunnes Stores in Redmond Square, when – on 9th December 2011 – she lost her footing while reading the staff noticeboard and fell down a flight of stairs leading from the staff locker room to the ground floor.

Jean was taken to hospital by ambulance, where she was treated for soft tissue injuries to her neck and back. Jean had to wear a neck brace to support her head for the six weeks she was unable to work and also underwent a course of physiotherapy to help her recover from her ordeal.

After obtaining legal advice, Jean made a claim for a workplace accident in Dunnes against her employer –  alleging that the staff noticeboard was dangerously positioned too close to the top of the stairs and that, had there been a handrail of both sides of the flight of stairs, her fall could have been prevented.

Dunnes Stores contested the claim for a workplace accident at Dunnes and refused to consent to an Injuries Board assessment. Jean was subsequently issued with an authorisation to pursue her workplace accident claim through the courts process and her case was heard at the High Court.

At the end of the hearing, Mr Justice Raymond Fullam found in Jean´s favour. Judge Fullam ruled that Dunnes Stores had been negligent in two respects – for the dangerous placement of the staff noticeboard at the top of the flight of stairs and for the lack of a handrail on both sides of the flight of stairs.

Judge Fullam awarded Jean €81,500 compensation in settlement of her claim for a workplace accident at Dunnes – €65,000 general damages for her pain, suffering and loss of amenity as a result of her accident, and €16,500 special damages for her loss of income and the costs she had incurred.


Dublin Bar Injury Compensation Claim Settled at High Court

A Dublin bar injury compensation claim has been settled at the High Court in favour of a woman who dislocated her thumb in a slip and fall accident.

On May 28th 2011, Sharon Kelly (44) from County Offaly attended a thirtieth birthday party at the Arc Café Bar on the Fonthill Road in Dublin. Shortly after midnight, Sharon crossed the wooden floor in the lobby area to go to the bathroom, slipped on some liquid spilt on the floor and dislocated her thumb as she fell.

In pain from her injury – which has left her with a loss of sensation in the tip of her thumb and a reduced pinch grip – Sharon sought legal advice and made a Dublin bar injury compensation claim against Lackabeg Limited trading as the Arc Café Bar, alleging that there had been a failure to monitor the floor surfaces and take corrective action when a risk of injury was identified.

Lackabeg Limited denied liability for Sharon´s injury, and contested the Dublin bar injury compensation claim on the grounds that the bar had a comprehensive cleaning system in place. The owners of the bar alleged that Sharon had been drinking at the party for more than five hours and was wearing four-inch heels at the time of her accident.

With liability contested, the Injuries Board issued Sharon with an authorisation to pursue her Dublin bar injury compensation claim in court. Consequently, the case was heard by Mr Justice Anthony Barr at the High Court.

During the hearing, Judge Barr was told that the liquid on the floor could either have been caused by a patron spilling their drink or water being walked out from the ladies toilet. The judge accepted the evidence of two other women that the toilets in the public bar had been in poor condition that night and complaints were made to bar staff.

The judge also reviewed CCTV footage of Sharon´s slip and fall accident, and heard that the bar had been particularly busy that evening due to a two-for-one drinks promotion to promote a televised Champions League football match. The judge said he was satisfied that there was liquid on the wooden floor where Sharon slipped and fell.

Awarding Sharon €90,000 in settlement of her Dublin bar injury compensation claim, Judge Barr said: “People cannot be expected to look at the floor when walking across a bar. She was entitled to expect that the floor was dry and it was safe for her to walk across it.”


High Court Approves Compensation Settlement for a Work Accident Claim

The High Court has approved a compensation settlement for a work accident claim made by the widow of a man killed while working at Connacht Sportsground.

On 30th April 2008, Declan Byrne (31) was killed when a 1.4 tonne steel beam fell on him while he was trying to realign it during the construction of a new gym at the Connacht Sportsground in Galway. An investigation into Declan´s death resulted in charges being brought against the company for whom he worked – CDM Steel Ltd – under the 2005 Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act.

The company was acquitted on the charges in November 2013, after the Galway Circuit Criminal Court heard that it had been Declan´s decision to use scaffolding and a bottle jack – rather than lift the beam with a crane – because the blockwork of the building was so far advanced. However, the judge in the case criticised the lack of supervision and an “appalling lack of communication” at the site.

Following the acquittal of her husband´s former employer, Dolores Byrne from Ballyhaunis in County Mayo made a work accident claim against CDM Steel Ltd alleging that the company´s negligence was responsible for Declan´s death. She also sued Portant Developments Ltd – the main contractor for the development of the site, the Connacht Branch of the Rugby Football Union and the Irish Rugby Football Union – the owners of the Connacht Sportsground.

All four parties denied their role in Declan´s death, and alleged that he failed to have regard for his own safety by attempting to realign the steel beam without the appropriate lifting equipment. However, at the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard that a compensation settlement for the work accident claim had been agreed amounting to €500,000.

Judge Cross approved the compensation settlement for a work accident claim, expressing his sympathies to Dolores and her two children for their tragic and irreplaceable loss. He told the family that, although the compensation settlement for a work accident claim was a good one that he was happy to approve, “nothing can replace what you have lost”.


Mother Files Claim for a Child being Scalded on an Aer Lingus Flight

A woman from New York has filed a claim for a child being scalded on an Aer Lingus flight after her son was burned by hot liquid being spilled on him.

The claim for a child being scalded on an Aer Lingus flight does not contain much in the way of detail about how the accident happened, only that the unnamed boy flying from Dublin to JFK International Airport in New York was “injured as a result of scalding hot liquid” on June 30th, 2014.

The boy´s mother alleges that her son´s injuries occurred as a result of negligence by a member of the flight crew – a claim that Aer Lingus denies – and that, as a result of the accident, the boy “was deprived of his enjoyment of life, pursuits and interests and in the future will be deprived on the same”.

Under the Montreal Convention, Aer Lingus is liable to pay compensation for any avoidable injuries that occur during a flight irrespective of how the injury occurred. Negotiations to resolve the claim for a child being scalded on an Aer Lingus flight are scheduled to take place at the end of the month. It is understood that the airline has requested a copy of the boy´s medical records to assess the level of compensation he may be entitled to.

Mediation Continuing in Second Aer Lingus Scalding Injury Claim

The claim for a child being scalded on an Aer Lingus flight is the second claim of this nature that the airline has received recently in the US. Last August, a similar claim was filed in Jacksonville, Florida, on behalf of a ten-year-old girl allegedly scalded by hot tea during a flight from Dublin to Orlando.

The parents of the injured ten-year-old are claiming $75,000 compensation for the burns sustained by their daughter, when hot tea spilled onto her from a cup on which the lid had not been properly attached. The girl – who prior to her accident was a “successful amateur competitive surfer” – suffered burns to her lower torso and thighs and may need plastic surgery in the future.

Although Aer Lingus is again liable for compensation under the Montreal Convention, the airline is disputing the amount of compensation being claimed. Mediation is continuing in this Aer Lingus scalding injury claim in the hope that a suitable compromise can be agreed without the need for court action.

Aer Lingus Flight Injury Compensation Awarded in Ireland

The claims against Aer Lingus in the US for a child being scalded on a flight are not the first that the airline has had to contend with. In June 2011, five-year-old Sophie Gorman from Knocklyon in Dublin was scalded on an Aer Lingus flight from London when a stewardess attempted to place a cup of tea on the table in front of Sophie´s mother, and spilled some of the hot tea on Sophie´s leg.

On her daughter´s behalf, Sophie´s mother made a claim for a child being scalded on an Aer Lingus flight due to the ongoing treatment Sophie had to receive after returning to Dublin and the small pigment irregularity Sophie now has on her leg. In July 2012, a €7,000 offer of settlement from Aer Lingus was approved in the Dublin Circuit Civil Court by Mr Justice Matthew Deery.


Judge Awards Compensation for a Slip on a Potato Wedge in Dunnes

A judge has awarded an injured shopper €22,900 compensation for a slip on a potato wedge in Dunnes following a hearing at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin.

In November 2011, sixty-year old housewife Anna Manning from Clondalkin in Dublin was entering the fish section of her local Dunnes Stores, when she slipped on a potato wedge that had been left on the floor following an earlier spill and fell onto the shop floor.

Anna landed on her hands and knees, but the following day attended her GP for treatment to pains that had developed in her back and neck. Anna also sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a slip on a potato wedge in Dunnes.

Dunnes Stores refused its consent for Anna´s claim to be assessed by the Injuries Board and she was issued with an Authorisation to pursue her claim in court. The claim for compensation for a slip on a potato wedge in Dunnes was recently heard by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke at the Circuit Civil Court.

At the hearing Judge Groarke was told that Anna´s slip and fall had aggravated an existing condition, and that she had also sustained a wrist injury that was having a negative effect on her quality of life. Dunnes Stores contested Anna´s claim, and argued that she had contributed to her injuries by her own lack of care.

Judge Groarke dismissed Dunne´s argument of contributory negligence and found in Anna´s favour. The judge commented that Anna was a “very poor candidate” to fabricate her story considering her previous medical history and he considered Dunnes Stores to have been negligent for failing to thoroughly clean up the previous spill.

Judge Groarke awarded Anna €22,900 compensation for a slip on a potato wedge in Dunnes, adding on the balance of probabilities that the potato wedge on which Anna had slipped had likely been a “brother or sister” of the wedges that had been spilled earlier in the day.


Flight Attendant Claims Compensation for Injuries during a Landing

An Air Lingus flight attendant has given evidence at the High Court in support of her claim for compensation for injuries during a landing at Dublin Airport.

On 19th November 2009, Cassandra Reddin from Ratoath in County Meath was a flight attendant on flight EI582 from Malaga to Dublin. As the Airbus 320 approached Dublin Airport, the plane started swaying from side-to-side and, on landing, bounced three times before coming to a halt much further along the runway than it normally would.

The rough landing caused the overhead luggage lockers to open, and luggage to fall on top of passengers; who – according to Cassandra´s testimony yesterday at the High Court – were screaming in fear. “Safety documents shot out of their pockets; duty free broke in the overhead baggage and alcohol leaked into the cabin. There was a degree of chaos and stress on board,” she told Mr Justice Michael Hanna.

Cassandra told the court that the rough landing had left her shaken up emotionally and physically. Claiming that she had suffered shock due to the incident, and had cried the whole evening when she had got home, Cassandra also alleged that she had suffered soft tissue neck and back injuries similar to whiplash – subsequent to which she sought legal advice and claimed compensation for injuries during a landing at Dublin Airport.

Aer Lingus contested Cassandra´s claim for compensation, and her allegations that the rate of descent just prior to landing was three to four times what it should have been. The airline also disputes claims that the co-pilot was negligent in failing to adequately supervise the landing on the plane. Consequently, when Cassandra applied to the Injuries Board for compensation for injuries during a landing, Aer Lingus refused to give its consent for the assessment to proceed.

The hearing at the Four Courts continues tomorrow.


Judge Awards Multiple Compensation Settlements for an SUV Accident

A judge at the Limerick Circuit Court has awarded multiple compensation settlements for an SUV accident in which a driver and three passengers were injured.

Mary O´Reilly was driving her husband´s SUV from Charleville in County Cork to Rathkeale on 18th October 2011, when the vehicle was rear-ended by a rental van driver by Rathkeale resident Jeremiah O´Brien. Several days after the accident, Mary and her three female passengers started to experience pain from soft tissue injuries they had sustained in the accident.

The four women claimed injury compensation from the driver of the rental van, the company from which it had been hired – Enterprise Rent a Car – and the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI). Mary´s husband – William O´Reilly – also claimed compensation for the property damage to his SUV –

Enterprise Rent-a-Car and MIBI contested the claim on the grounds that the circumstances of the accident did not stand up to scrutiny. The defendants alleged that Jeremiah O´Brien and William O´Reilly were known to each other, and that when the Gardai attended the scene of the accident, no property damage was recorded.

As consent for the Injuries Board to assess the compensation settlements for an SUV accident was denied, the case went to Limerick Circuit Court, where it was heard by Judge Karen Fergus. Judge Fergus was told that, although William O´Reilly´s parents had lived near Jeremiah O´Brien´s parents, the two men had only met once before.

Judge Fergus also heard about the various injuries that had been sustained by Mary and her passengers, and that one of the passengers – Lisa O´Reilly had already settled her claim out of court. The judge awarded multiple compensation settlements for an SUV accident to Mary O´Reilly (€7,500), Caitriona McDonagh (€10,000) and Breda McCarthy (€12,000). William O´Reilly was also awarded €4,800 for the property damage to his SUV.


Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation for a Broken Wrist on Holiday

A Circuit Court judge has approved a settlement of compensation for a broken wrist on holiday in favour of a young girl who was hurt in an accident in Spain.

In June 2014, the Budhe family from Clondalkin in Dublin were enjoying a holiday on the Costa del Sol in Spain. While the family were sitting beside the pool, six-year-old Sophia went to get a drink from the poolside drinks dispenser.

As she had seen other children use a chair to reach the drinks dispenser, Sophia also climbed onto the chair. However, the chair was wet from previous use, and Sophia slipped and fell – landing on her outstretched left wrist.

Sophia´s wrist began to swell the following day, and she was taken to the Accident and Emergency department of a local hospital in Benalmadena, where an X-ray was taken and a soft cast was applied to her wrist.

On the family´s return to Dublin, Sophia attended the Tallaght Hospital where a further X-ray was taken. The soft cast was subsequently replaced with an above-the-elbow plaster back slab, which Sophia was required to wear for several weeks.

Through her father Amar, Sophia claimed compensation for a broken wrist on holiday against the travel agent through which the holiday was booked – Linevana Ltd, of Lower Liffey St, Dublin – and also the tour operator – TUI UK & Ireland.

In the claim it was alleged that both Linevana and TUI UK & Ireland were negligent for not supplying a suitable and safe means for children to reach the drinks dispenser. Both defendants admitted their liability for Sophia´s injuries and a €14,000 settlement of compensation for a broken wrist on holiday was agreed.

Because the claim for compensation for a broken wrist on holiday had been made on behalf of a child, the settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in Sophia´s best interests. Consequently, at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was told the circumstances of Sophia´s accident and the settlement that had been agreed.

Judge Groarke approved the settlement after hearing that Sophia had made a full recovery. The funds will now be paid into court, where they will be managed in an interest-yielding account until Sophia becomes a legal adult at age eighteen.


Dublin Bar found Liable in Cut Hand Injury Compensation Claim

A Dublin bar has been found liable for injuries sustained by a painter and decorator after a hearing into a cut hand injury compensation claim.

David O´Keeffe (31) made his cut hand injury compensation claim after slipping and falling at the Woolshed Baa & Grill on Parnell Street in Dublin on 18th September 2011. David had been watching the All Ireland Football Final in the packed bar with a group of friends and, at the end of the game, he attempted to visit the bathrooms.

However, as he manoeuvred his way through the packed bar, he slipped on a wet area of the floor and fell – cutting his left hand on a piece of glass that was laying on the floor. David received First Aid behind the bar for his injury, and later attended the Accident & Emergency Department of St James´ Hospital, where the cut was cleaned properly and stitched.

Following his hospital treatment, David made a cut hand injury compensation claim against the Woolshed Baa & Grill, alleging that the bar had allowed uncollected glasses to stack up, which had likely fallen over and smashed and caused the piece of glass to be laying on the floor. He also alleged that spilled drinks remained unattended to and that the bar had failed to follow cleaning procedures.

The Woolshed Baa & Grill denied its liability for David´s injury, and refused to consent to an Injuries Board assessment of the cut hand injury compensation claim. David was issued with an authorisation to pursue his claim through the court system, and a hearing to establish liability took place last week before Judge Jacqueline Linnane at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin.

At the hearing, the bar´s legal team argued that David´s injuries were due to his friends unsuccessfully trying to lift him up while he had a glass in his hand. The bar owners testified that the bar had followed its cleaning procedures on the day in question, and that an accident report had been filled out at the time that David slipped and fell, but that they were unable to locate it.

Judge Linnane said that she accepted David´s version of events, as the bar had been packed “to the point that one would not have been able to see that the floor was wet”. She found in David´s favour and awarded him €20,000 in settlement of his cut hand injury compensation claim.


Settlement of Electrocution Accident Compensation Approved in Court

A settlement of electrocution accident compensation has been approved in the High Court in favour of a boy who was severely burned while playing.

On July 3rd 2008, Kurt O´Callaghan from Wexford was playing in woodland near his home and making a camp with his friends, when he decided to put a “Keep Out” sign on an electricity pole. As Kurt nailed his sign into the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) pole, the nail went into an electricity cable and the force of the subsequent electric shock knocked him off the wall he had used to gain access to the pole.

A passing motorist rushed Kurt – who was just ten years old at the time – to a local hospital, from where he was transferred to the Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, Dublin. Kurt spent the next three months undergoing multiple operations to treat burnt areas on his head, neck, shoulders, chest, and hands. Kurt may need further surgery or skin grafts in the future.

Through his mother – Denise – Kurt made a claim for electrocution accident compensation against the ESB, alleging that he had been exposed to a danger of electrocution which the ESB knew existed or should have known existed. It was further alleged that there had been a failure by the ESB to carry out an inspection of the wall Kurt used to access the electricity pole so as to detect the dangerous nature of the wall´s proximity to the electricity cables.

The electrocution accident compensation claim was supported by expert evidence that was critical of the ESB for not identifying the risk of danger. The expert´s report said that there was a statutory requirement to ensure that electricity poles were inaccessible to a height of three metres, and the ESB should have spotted that the pole was accessible if the wall was used to access it.

The ESB denied that it was responsible for Kurt´s injuries, and the electrocution accident compensation claim was scheduled for a full court hearing. However, before the hearing could take place, a negotiated settlement of the claim was agreed for €700,000. Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said that it was a good one in the circumstances, as Kurt may have been accused of contributory negligence if his claim for electrocution accident compensation had gone to a full hearing.


Compensation Awards made by the High Court under Attack

A representative of the motor insurance industry has claimed that judges need educating about who pays for compensation awards made by the High Court.

The attack on compensation awards made by the High Court was made by Conor Faughan from AA Ireland, who was responding to the news that the average value of High Court personal injury settlements had increased from €227,000 in 2013 to €304,000 last year.

Mr Faughan said there was a need for judges to be educated so that they would understand that compensation awards made by the High Court are paid for by the country´s two million drivers. Although not strictly true (few road traffic accident claims are resolved in the High Court), Mr Faughan pointed out that the average value of assessments conducted by the Injuries Board had remained steady during the same period at around €22,600.

It has also been suggested that the increase in the average value of compensation awards made by the High Court could be due to changes made under the Courts and Civil Law Act 2013, which saw the minimum potential compensation level at which cases would be heard by the High Court from €38,092 to €60,000. Some observers believe that High Court judges are awarding a minimum compensation settlement of €60,000 when – prior to the increase – they would have awarded less.

Dorothea Dowling – founding chairperson of the Injuries Board, and the chair of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board – believes that plaintiffs are shunning Injuries Board assessments for higher compensation awards made by the High Court. Ms Dowling told the Independent: “The Department of Justice was forewarned well in advance. This is what happens when you increase the limits of the lower courts – it sends out the message that €38,000 is small money.”

Whereas Ms Dowling has a point, it is not a point that everybody shares. Earlier this year (In McGarry v McGarry) Mr Justice Bernard Barton criticised the government for not updating the injury compensation values published in the Book of Quantum since 2004. During the case, Judge Barton acknowledged that for all practical purposes the Book of Quantum was being ignored by the courts because it was so out of date and commented “it is unquestionably in the interests of the proper administration of justice that the Book be reviewed and be kept updated to properly reflect [compensation awards made by the High Court]”.


Settlement of Claim for an Injury Caused by Eating Restaurant Food Halved by Judge

The settlement of a claim for an injury caused by eating restaurant food has been halved by a judge who said the plaintiff contributed to his injury.

Shane McQuillan (32) from Swords in County Dublin made his claim for an injury caused by eating restaurant food after fracturing an upper right back molar while eating a sausage and bacon sandwich at the Gate Clock Bar at Dublin Airport on 23rd March 2013.

In his claim Shane alleged that his injury was due to biting on a tough rind on a rasher of bacon that had been left on display “for a number of hours”. The owners of the bar denied liability for his fractured tooth, and the Injuries Board issued Shane with an authorisation to pursue his claim in court.

At the hearing at Swords District Court, Judge Patricia McNamara was told that the bacon in Shane´s sandwich was served from a steel tray over a pan of hot water from behind a glass display. It was claimed by the bar manager that the food is changed every ninety minutes – although she could not produce records to substantiate her claim.

The bar´s solicitor argued that, if Shane believed that the bacon was stale, he should not have put it in his sandwich – and therefore that Shane was responsible for his own injury, if the bacon rind was stale at all.

After hearing that Shane still suffers occasional pain from the injury and cannot drink cold drinks, Judge McNamara found in Shane´s favour – initially awarding him €6,500 in general damages for his pain and suffering, and €2,500 in special damages.

However, the judge said that she was only finding in his favour because the bar could not provide records to show that the food was changed regularly and that Shane “should have been careful of a crispy rasher rind”. Judge McNamara then said that she was assigning Shane 50 percent for the contribution he made to his injury – reducing the value of his claim for an injury caused by eating restaurant food by half to €4,500.


Controversy in Sweden over Unfair Bank Mortgage Practices

Swedbank stands accused of attempting to block a €792m class-action mis-selling claim filed against it in December, and that it is using “mafia tactics” to intimidate its clients into dropping their claims for unfair bank mortgage practices against its asset management arm, Swedbank Robur.

Swedbank is Sweden largest bank and is one of a number of financial institutions that has been accused of a practice called “closet tracking”. This is a practice in which fund managers charge extortionate fees for essentially just monitoring the stock exchange; a task that requires little time, effort or skill.

Last December the Swedish Shareholders’ Association took action against Swedbank and filed a class-action claim against the bank for mis-selling funds in Sweden. More than 3,000 of the banks customers have already added their names to the claim. The claims for unfair bank mortgage practices seek SKr 7bn (€792m) in damages; however the bank has denied that it uses this practice. The claim was filed with Sweden’s National Board for Consumer disputes (ARN), but Swedbank has already challenged the case and has threatened its consumers with legal action should the case be ruled against it. Swedbank is being very aggressive and has warned its customers that they will face high legal fees and that they will be sued by the company. The CEO of the Swedish Shareholders Association, Carl Rosen, has called the banks actions “mafia tactics” and finds the matter highly disturbing. He says “This is not America in the 1930s, this is Sweden in 2015. We see this as an empty threat”

It is not clear whether the bank intends to follow through, but Swedbank appears concerned and is trying to limit its liabilities. Cecilia Hernqvist, Swedbank’s communications Director, told the Financial Times that the bank is not happy with ARN judging the case due to how claims for mis-selling are handled. The ARN only allows written evidence and there is no appeals process.  Hernqvist says “We think ARN is a very good authority for consumer disputes, but not for a group class-action which comprises SKr 7bn and concerns an industry-wide issue” she went on to say that should the case be tried, “the consequences might be that we have to bring this to court. We do not want this to happen, however, we think it is important to understand that this could be the result”

ARN has responded saying that it is the correct authority to try the claim, although it has yet to decide if it will actually handle the claim for unfair banking practices.

A Widespread Problem Across Europe

Closet Tracking is a problem is an industry-wide problem, but it is certainly not limited to Sweden. The case is being closely monitored all across Europe and a favourable verdict for the respondents against the bank is likely to set a legal precedent, and is sure to trigger a flurry of European class-action closet tracking lawsuits against a wide range of financial institutions.

In February this year the issue was widely reported in the UK media, with the Daily Telegraph calculating that individuals who invested with companies using closet tracking could miss out on up to £50,000 over a 30-year period. The article also indicated that, in the UK at least, “one in three savers were affected by the issue”.  Closet tracking is coming under increasing scrutiny, and in Sweden the practice has been widely condemned, with industry experts, consumer organisations and academics speaking out on the issue.

Sweden’s deputy finance minister and minister for capital markets and consumers, Per Bolund, announced in February that the government will be conducting a formal investigation into these “active funds that do little more than mimic an index.”


Compensation Awards in Ireland Increase 22% in 2014

A story in the Irish Independent today says that the value of compensation awards in Ireland saw an increase of 22 percent in the first six months of 2014 compared with 2013.

Conor Pope of the Irish Independent writes that €144 million was paid to claimants between January and July – the rise being attributable to a spike in claims being received during 2013, and those claims being resolved in the first half of this year.

Pope notes that that the overall number of compensation claims for injuries made in the first six months of 2014 is slightly down on 2013, and speculates that this is due to the economic recovery. He reported that the average value of compensation awards in Ireland is €22,000, with claims following motor accidents accounting for three-quarters of the total received.

A similar report in the Irish Times analysed where the increase in compensation awards in Ireland had materialised from; with Brian Byrne identifying a year-on-year increase in public liability claims of 30 percent, motor liability claims up 24 percent and employer liability claims up 10 percent.

Byrne also reported on concerns regarding an estimated 40 percent of personal injury claims which are settled directly between claimants and insurers. He wrote that insurance companies should make public compensation awards in Ireland that are settled “behind closed doors” in order that there is visibility on competitiveness, premiums and on false or exaggerated claims.

What neither newspaper article touches upon is the practise of “third party capture”, in which insurance companies try to lowball accident victims with inappropriate settlements of compensation before the victim has had the opportunity to speak with a solicitor. There is also a growing trend – particularly with claims against the HSE (also not mentioned in either newspaper article) – for solicitors to negotiate a settlement “on the steps of the High Court”.

One possible solution for increasing the visibility of compensation awards in Ireland would be to build a register based on the government´s new “Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme” which was launched in August. As insurance companies now have to obtain a certificate of benefits from the Department of Social Protection before settling injury compensation claims, it should not be too difficult for the DSP to compile data relating to the accurate value of compensation awards in Ireland.


Advice to Boil Frozen Berries due to Hepatitis A Threat

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has re-issued advice to boil frozen berries due to a hepatitis A threat that has been identified in the food chain.

The warning comes one year after a similar alert was issued when an outbreak of Hepatitis A was linked to frozen berries and, despite a European-wide trace-back operation, no single point of contamination was found.

The FSAI said that it was concerned that several cases of Hepatitis A had been reported during the summer which could not be associated with travelling overseas. Since the original alert in July last year, 1,440 cases of unexplained Hepatitis A have been reported in twelve European countries, with 331 cases (21 in Ireland) confirmed by genotyping.

Frozen Berries Hepatitis A Threat from the Catering Industry

Professor Alan Reilly – chief executive of the FSAI – was quick to comment that the frozen berries hepatitis A threat originates from imported berries and not from those produced in Ireland, although he added that fresh berries should still be washed thoroughly before being eaten.

Professor Reilly also explained that imported frozen berries were widely used in the catering industry and that businesses involved in catering should check that the berries they used in their products were sourced from reputable suppliers with comprehensive food safety management systems in place.

The FSAI is working in collaboration with the National Virus Reference Laboratory, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre and the Health Service Executive to track the sources of the frozen berries associated with the hepatitis A threat, and cross-referencing their findings with an ongoing investigation in Italy.

Hepatitis A Symptoms and Treatment

Hepatitis A symptoms are more likely to manifest in the young, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Typically the incubation period of the illness is between fifteen and fifty days, after which the victim will experience a fever, nausea, a loss of appetite and abdominal pain.

The symptoms can last from a few weeks to several months, during which time the only treatment is pain relief and plenty of rest. Doctors advise that, as hepatitis A is a disease which predominantly affects the liver, victims of the illness should refrain from drinking alcohol until they have recovered.

If exposure to the virus is identified quickly enough, victims can be treated with a mixture of the hepatitis A vaccine and immunoglobulin – a blood product derived from the blood of people who have a natural immunity to hepatitis A – however, this treatment normally has to be administered within fourteen days to be effective.

Compensation for Hepatitis A due to Contaminated Berries

Due to the incubation period of the illness, victims may have eaten contaminated berries prior to the FSAI´s advice being issued and before retailers had the opportunity to remove imported frozen berries from their shelves.

Nonetheless, stores, supermarkets and manufacturers in the catering industry all have a duty of care to supply goods which do not pose a threat to the health of those who consume them. Consequently, if you – or a loved one – have suffered from Hepatitis A due to eating contaminated fruit, you should speak with a solicitor at the first possible opportunity.


DSP Changes introduced for the Recovery of Welfare Benefits

A new scheme has been introduced today for the recovery of welfare benefits from successful personal injury claims.

The “Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme” comes into force today (Friday August 1) enabling the Department of Social Protection (DSP) to recover welfare benefits paid to recipients of personal injury compensation.

The scheme – which is a result of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2013 – replaces the current practice of deducting welfare benefits from compensation for loss of earnings, and operates in a similar way to the Compensation Recovery Unit in the UK.

From today, a compensator – usually the negligent party´s insurance provider – will be required to request a statement from the DSP outlining the value of certain welfare benefits that the plaintiff has received in the previous five years which relate directly to the accident or injury for which their compensation claim was made.

Copies of the statement will also be sent to the plaintiff and the Injuries Board (in cases where they have been responsible for completing an accepted assessment) detailing the deductions that are to be made from compensation settlements for the recovery of welfare benefits.

The benefits which apply under the new scheme are confined to:

  • Injury Benefit
  • Illness Benefit
  • Partial Capacity Benefit
  • Incapacity Supplement
  • Disability Allowance
  • Invalidity Pension

In the past welfare benefits have usually been deducted from a plaintiff´s loss of earnings settlement, and therefore there will be no difference in how much personal injury compensation they receive. However, due to the new process, it is likely to take several weeks longer for a compensation settlement to be received.

It is important to note that the recovery of welfare benefits is not the responsibility of the plaintiff, nor does the receipt of welfare benefits exclude a plaintiff from making a claim for personal injury compensation.

It is also important that plaintiffs check their copy of the benefits statement to ensure that it is accurate, and reflects only to welfare benefits they have received in respect of their injury. An appeals procedure exists in the event that the value of welfare payments contained in the DSP´s statement is considered to be incorrect.

For professional legal advice about how to check the recovery of welfare benefits – and what to do if you consider the DSP´s figures to be incorrect – it is recommended that you consult with a personal injury solicitor.


Woman Awarded Injury Compensation for Nightclub Accident

A woman has been awarded injury compensation for a nightclub accident at the Abberley Court Hotel in Dublin, but only after a judge ruled she must take 20% responsibility for her injury.

Sixty-four year old Rita Walsh from Tallaght in Dublin made her claim for nightclub accident compensation after tripping over a poorly-lit step as she made her way to the bathroom of the Level 4 Nightclub at the Abberley Court Hotel just as it was closing at 2:00am on the morning of April 4th 2010.

Rita injured her shoulder when she fell and, after seeking legal advice made a claim for injury compensation for a nightclub accident – alleging in her action against the Abberley Court Hotel that the management of the nightclub turned out all the lights as soon as the DJ stopped playing music, and that the step was impossible to see in the “pitch black”.

The Abberley Court Hotel denied its liability for Rita´s shoulder injury, and said that the lights had all been turned on as patrons left that evening. However, a forensic engineer giving evidence at court testified that the overall lighting was inadequate to clearly identify the step in question during normal club use, and that a recessed light in the step only made the step visible in the direction away from which Rita was approaching.

Judge Alan Mahon ruled that on the basis of the forensic engineer´s evidence, Rita was entitled to injury compensation for the nightclub accident; however he commented that he neither agreed with Rita´s allegations that the nightclub was “pitch black” nor that the management of the Abberley Court Hotel turned all the lights on as patrons left the club – saying it was most likely that management had only illuminated the nightclub after Rita´s accident.

The judge also told Rita that she must take some of the responsibility for her trip and fall injury, as she had admitted to drinking alcohol with her daughters prior to the accident. He assigned her 20% contributory negligence and reduced her injury compensation for a nightclub accident from €22,000 to €17,600.


Judge Clears Way for After the Event Insurance Claims

A High Court judge has cleared the way for after the event insurance to be offered to plaintiffs to protect them from exposure to legal costs when making a personal injury claim.

After the event insurance (often abbreviated to “ATE insurance”) is a policy taken out when plaintiffs make a personal injury claim, to protect them from the legal costs of the defendant should the claim be unsuccessful. No premium is charged until the result of the case is established, and only if the plaintiff is successful is the premium paid at all -when it is usually deducted from an award of compensation.

Recently the provision of after the event insurance was challenged in court, when the defendant claimed that it was unlawful due to being contrary to the “law of champerty”.

The law of champerty makes it illegal for a third party to provide financial support to either party in a court case when the third party has no direct or legitimate interest, or to provide financial support in return for a share of any resulting compensation settlement.

It was argued that, by providing insurance against potential legal costs – and by deducting the insurance premium from a compensation settlement – insurance companies and solicitors offering after the event insurance were acting unlawfully.

Judge Hogan reviewed how after the event insurance works, and found that the provision of insurance did not contravene laws relating to “trafficking in litigation” (where the third party´s only motive in supporting the litigation was to derive profit), and that it serves an important purpose by allowing access to justice to persons who might otherwise be denied that justice.

The significance of Judge Hogan´s decision is that it clears away the grey area of whether after the event insurance is lawful when taken out to protect a claimant from exposure to legal costs, and also that solicitors who fail to offer claimants the option of ATE insurance could subsequently be sued for malpractice if adverse orders for costs are made against uninsured plaintiffs.


Claim for Compensation for a Head Injury at Work Resolved at High Court Hearing

A man, who suffered a severe life-changing trauma when a meat conveyor bench fell on him, has settled his claim for compensation for a head injury at work.

The plaintiff worked as a knife washer in the AIBP meat processing factory in Cahir, County Tipperary, when, in May 2007, he was instructed to assist a colleague who has loading a meat conveyor bench onto two trolleys in order to move it elsewhere within the processing plant.

As the employee and his colleague loaded the meat conveyor bench onto the trolleys, the bench slipped and fell on him while he was crouching beneath it; striking him on the head and causing a severe head trauma. The employee received hospital treatment immediately following the accident but, because of the nature of his injury, the High Court heard that he has not been able to work since.

A claim for compensation for a head injury at work was made by the plaintiff after seeking legal advice. It was alleged in the claim that he had been asked to perform a task for which he had not been trained or instructed adequately and, because of his employer´s negligence, he had suffered the injury.

AIPB denied its responsibility for the employee´s head injury and claimed that the accident had occurred because of his own lack of care. However solicitors representing the employee pursued his claim for compensation for a head injury at work and the case went before Mr Justice Iarflaith O’Neill at the High Court.

After hearing testimony from both parties, Mr Justice Iarflaith O’Neill found in the plaintiff´s favour and said that he believed his account of how the meat conveyor bench accident had occurred. The judge commented that the accident had a major impact on the employee´s quality of life, but that AIBP had adopted an “antagonistic approach” to his situation.

The judge also criticised AIBP for recording a “trivialised and an inaccurate account” of the accident into the company’s accident reporting system and chastised the defence´s counsel for suggesting that the injured employee had been “malingering” since 2007. Awarding the plaintiff €257,000 in settlement of his claim for compensation for a head injury at work, Mr Justice Iarflaith O’Neill commented that the defendants had got this case “completely wrong”.


Injuries Board Claims Rise by 10 Percent

Injuries Board claims and applications for the assessment of personal injury compensation have risen by 10 percent in the first six months of 2013 according to a report published on injuriesboard.ie.

The analysis of Injuries Board Claims to June 2013 shows that the number of applications for the assessment of personal injury compensation received by the government body rose from 14,685 in the first six months of 2012 to 16,162 in the corresponding period of 2013 – an increase of just over 10 percent.

The total value of accepted assessments and the average value of Injuries Board claims also rose (by 8 percent and 4 percent respectively), predominantly due to a small number of exceptionally high claims assessments – one in particular (for €976,000) being the highest-ever assessment of personal injury compensation made by the Injuries Board.

The number of Injuries Board claims assessments accepted by plaintiffs also increased from 5,180 in 2012 to 5,286 in 2013; but this represented a substantial decrease in the percentage of Injuries Board assessments accepted (32.7 percent from 37.2 percent), indicating that more claims for personal injury compensation are being resolved by direct negotiation and court action.

As with previous years, Injuries Board claims for road traffic accidents accounted for the highest proportion of applications for assessment submitted to the Injuries Board (75.5 percent), while the proportion of claims for injuries sustained at work continued to decline (8.1 percent). The balance of Injuries Board claims was in respect of public liability claims and product liability claims.

Patricia Byron – CEO of the Injuries Board in Ireland – commented that the higher volume of claims and increased value of accepted compensation assessments did not provide an excuse for insurance companies to increase the premiums they charge. She said that, as the Board´s processing fee to respondents had been reduced from €850.00 to €600.00, the savings made by insurance companies should counter the increased value of Injuries Board claims.

For comprehensive information about compensation claims, please refer to this article.


Increase in Staff Injury Claims against Dublin City Council

Settlements of staff injury claims against Dublin City Council have amounted to more than €2.3 million in the past three years according to figures released by Ireland´s largest local authority.

The figures do not take into account employees´ injury claims for compensation against Dublin City Council which were still outstanding at the end of the year – 155 in all – with 37 claims before the High Court due to their potential high value, 46 at Circuit Court level and 72 still in the pre-proceedings stage.

In 2012 alone, 65 staff injury claims against Dublin City Council were made of which 49 claims were settled for €1,001,370 (47 settled for €925,438 in 2011/42 settled for €465,647 in 2010).

None of the claims for staff injuries against Dublin City Council were processed through mediation or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ARD) – a fact which concerned independent city councillor Nial Ring.

Mr Ring, who himself is a qualified mediator, said “”I’m well aware of the benefits of ARD and I’m surprised that it hasn’t been taken up in these cases. Its benefits in terms of cost savings and speedy resolutions are well known.”

A council spokesperson confirmed that settlements of staff injury claims against Dublin City Council which were below €500,000 were paid out of city funds. “Mediation is used by the city council whenever possible” she commented. “It must be agreed to by all parties concerned.”

The volume and value of employees´ injury claims for compensation against Dublin City Council do not include the hundreds of legal claims from members of the public who claim they are injured in the city. Last year over €6 million was paid out in compensation to members of the public; with the average settlement of a claim just over €11,000.


Report Reveals Awareness of Right to Claim Injury Compensation

The Annual Report from the Injuries Board has revealed a greater awareness among citizens of their right to claim injury compensation from a negligent party.

The report, published on the injuriesboardie web site, showed that applications for assessment submitted to the Injuries Board had risen 4.7 percent in 2012 to 28,962 (excluding claims for DePuy Hip Replacement Compensation); mostly driven by a significant rise in the number of claims for injury compensation following a road traffic accident (up 6.7 percent on 2011).

Just under 35 percent of the assessments made by the Injuries Board were accepted by claimants (10,136) with the average award value being €21,502 and 75 percent of those being for road traffic injury compensation claims.

Work injuries accounted for 8 percent of accepted Injuries Board assessments, while people injured in a place of public access made up the remainder of those exercising their right to claim injury compensation when they have been hurt in an accident for which they were not to blame.

In a press release accompanying the publication of the 2012 Annual Report, Patricia Byron – CEO of the Injuries Board – commented “The steady but consistent increase in claims volumes over the past five years is a real concern at a time when our roads have never been safer and we have fewer people at work”.

Ms Byron also expressed concern that there was an “emerging claims culture” which, she hoped, would be addressed in Justice Minister Alan Shatter’s forthcoming Legal Services Bill, which is due to be debated this summer.


PPI Insurance Refund Claims Starting in Ireland

The Central Bank of Ireland has opened the doors for tens of thousands of bank customers to make PPI insurance refund claims against financial institutions who knowingly mis-sold them payment protection insurance policies.

The Central Bank took the unusual step of naming six banks involved in the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI) policies following an investigation into allegations that thousands of policies were sold to customers – including the self-employed, homemakers and part-time workers – who could never make a claim under the terms of the insurance they bought.

The six banks named as perpetrators of the scandal by the Central Bank of Ireland were AIB, Permanent TSB, EBS, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and GE Money – all of whom have been told to review their files on payment protection and refund customers who should never have taken out these policies.

Other financial institutions are also suspected of mis-selling PPI in Ireland and officials at the Central Bank have warned that the Central Bank is considering taking legal action against some as yet unnamed firms that it feels broke the rules when selling protection insurance on car loans and credit cards.

Both the Central Bank and the National Consumer Agency issued advice to customers that they need not do anything if they believe they are entitled to make PPI refund claims in Ireland, as they will be monitoring the progress of the refund procedures. However, this advice was attacked by a leading solicitor in Dublin, who claimed that the information provided by the Central Bank and the National Consumer Agency was wrong.

According to the solicitor, a six-year Statute of Limitations applies for PPI insurance refund claims in Ireland and, should a financial institution fail to refund a customer who subsequently complains to that financial institution and has their complaint rejected, the customer´s next step would be to present a complaint to the Financial Services Ombudsman (FSO).

The FSO has no authority to investigate PPI refund claims in Ireland when the insurance policy was taken out more than six years ago and, should the financial institutions take a long period of time to review their files on payment protection, thousands of customers could miss out on their entitlement to a refund of their PPI policy.

It is estimated that more than 340,000 payment protection insurance policies were sold in Ireland between 2007 and 2011 and customers who have been mis-sold PPI policies could be entitled to refunds of between 2,000 Euros and 3,000 Euros. However, the AIB and EBS have already acknowledged that it may be a year before the first refund payments are received by customers – implying that the Dublin solicitor could well be justified in his advice to bank customers that they should use a solicitor to make PPI insurance refund claims in Ireland.