Schoolboy Awarded 36,800 Euros for Car Park Injury

A sixteen year old schoolboy, who sustained deep cuts in his thigh when climbing over a supermarket car park fence, has had a child accident claims settlement of 36,800 Euros approved in the Circuit Civil Court.

Michael Hogan of Firhouse, County Dublin, was just eleven years of age when the accident happened in 2006. Climbing over a supermarket car park fence at the Firhouse Shopping Centre, he caught his leg on a protruding and unprotected nail, which tore a deep V-shaped wound into the inside of his left thigh.

Michael´s injuries were so severe that he had to have a double layer of inner flesh stitched together under a general anaesthetic and, although he has recovered now, will be left with a permanent scar as a reminder of his injury.

Liability for the injury was not contested by the owners of the Firhouse Shopping centre – Colverton Limited – and Mr Justice Matthew Deery heard that the defendants had made a settlement offer of 36,800 Euros. The judge approved the offer, ordering that it should be invested in court funds until Michael´s 18th birthday in March 2015.


“Unplanned” Sick Days Cost Industry 1.5 Billion Euros

A report published this week by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) has revealed that absenteeism is costing the country 1.5 billion Euros each year in lost productivity.

The findings were based on a survey conducted in 2010 in which absenteeism levels in 2009 were examined across 635 companies employing a total of 110,000 people.  It was estimated in the report that 11 million working days were lost annually due to “unplanned” sick days although the report gave no indication of how many of these were due to accidents in the workplace and work illnesses.

Defining absenteeism as an “unscheduled disruption of the work process due to days lost as a result of sickness or any other cause not excused through statutory entitlements or company approval”, the report revealed that high-pressure rewards driven call centres recorded the highest absence rate (3.67%), while software companies had the lowest rates of absenteeism (1.56%). It also cited the main reason given for absence from work was minor illnesses.

However, the figures are much higher than those issued each year by the Health Safety Authority (HSA) in their annual “Summary of Workplace Injury” which, although a more accurate reflection of occupational health in Ireland (the IBEC conclusions were drawn by studying less than one half of one per cent of the workforce), are reliant on employers reporting work injury and illnesses of four or more days to the HSA.

The wide difference between the HSA figures and those estimated by IBEC could be due to an employer´s reluctance to report injuries and illness caused by their negligence. Although claims for injuries at work are declining in the farming and construction industries, those related to falls at work and repetitive strain injuries are on the increase, and if an employer reports injuries which are due to his breach of health and safety regulations, he could be inviting a visit from HSA investigators.

The publication of the report also coincides with a similar Health and Safety Executive release in the UK, which estimated that 560,000 employees in England and Wales took a total of 13.4 million days off last year due to stress in the workplace. Proportionately, it would appear that the situation is far worse in the Republic.


40,000 Euros Compensation Awarded for Nightclub Bite Injury

A nightclub patron, who had the top of his ear bitten off in an unprovoked dancefloor attack, has been awarded 40,000 Euros compensation against the owners of the nightclub. Darren Curneen (28) of Clondalkin, County Dublin, had visited the Sidewalk Night Club, Upper O’Connell Street, Dublin, on February 3rd 2002 and was socialising with friends on the dance floor, when he felt a sharp pain from behind. He placed his hand up to his ear and discovered that it was covered in blood and part of the ear was missing. Darren´s attacker was later arrested with blood on his lips and face but, as Mr Justice Peter Charleton heard at the High Court, this had not been an isolated incident as Darren´s attacker had previously bitten another patron´s ear just a few minutes beforehand.
After seeking legal advice, Darren sued Lacefield Taverns Ltd, trading as Sidewalk Night Club, claiming that they owed a duty of care towards him as a patron of their premises and, as the company declined to be represented in court, the case went undefended. Assessing the level of damages to be awarded, Mr Justice Peter Charleton took into account that Darren had suffered pain in the ear for four years after the attack and, although he had been offered plastic surgery to repair the damage, there were no guarantees that any treatment would repair the permanent disfigurement of the ear. When he announced the award of 40,000 Euros the judge added that it was clear the nightclub had a duty of care to those on the premises, and they should have dealt with the attacker and protected their patrons.


Award Approved for Argos Sofa Rash

A six year old girl has had a compensation settlement approved in the Circuit Civil Court after developing a skin condition due to chemicals used in the manufacture of a sofa.
Mr Justice Matthew Deery heard in court how Holly David of Clonee, County Dublin, was just two years old when her family purchased the sofa in 2006 from Argos Ltd. Holly and her family started to develop skin problems and tingly rashes shortly after the purchase of the sofa, and Holly had to receive medical treatment for dermatitis.
Holly’s family replaced the sofa, which was later discovered to contain the mould inhibitor dimethyl fumarate – a chemical which has subsequently been banned in the EU for use in sofas, and which prompted Argos Ltd to recall the product in 2009.
Holly’s mother, Gabriela, sought legal advice and an application was made to the Injuries Board Ireland for compensation on the grounds of product liability. The Injuries Board assessed Holly’s case and recommended damages of 10,000 Euros – a figure accepted by both Holly’s family and Argos Ltd, but one which had to be approved in court due to Holly being a minor.


6 Million Euros for Defence Forces Compensation

Internal documents from the Department of Defence have revealed that almost 6 million Euros is being set aside to compensate members of the defence forces in personal injury claims.
The substantial increase, from the 4.1 million Euros which was paid out last year, is due to an anticipated increase in the number of claims from soldiers who were exposed to the controversial anti-malaria drug, Larium.
The department is already aware of at least 10 cases where members of the defence forces have claimed they developed serious side effects as a consequence of taking the drug, and the extra provision in their budget is to account for any new personal injury compensation claims deriving from soldiers who recently served in Chad or the Central African Republic.
The Department of Defence has also factored into their compensation budget an allocation for post traumatic stress disorder as well as an increase for the most common types of compensation claim – personal injuries arising from traffic accidents, occupational personal injuries, and administrative law cases in areas such as promotion and disciplinary action.
The Statute of Limitations applies to member of the defence forces in the same way as the general public, and soldiers have two years from the date of knowledge of an injury in which to make a claim for personal injury compensation.


Families in Cork Plane Crash Sue for 100 Million Euros

Survivors and families of the victims of the plane crash which killed six passengers and injured six more at Cork Airport in February, are preparing to claim up to 100 million Euros in compensation.
The crash, which happened in thick fog, caused the commuter plane from Belfast to flip over and burst into flames on its third attempt at landing. Both the pilot and co-pilot were killed in the accident.
The survivors and dependants of those who were killed are compiling a legal case against the Isle of Man airline Manx2, the Spanish flight operator Flightline BCN and the American manufacturers of the Fairchild Metroliner sw4.
As Ireland is a signatory to the Montreal Convention, the claimants would usually be entitled to compensation from the CAA not exceeding 120,000 Euros per injured person. However legal advisers feel that a more acceptable figure can be attained through court action – citing cases such as the Air France Flight 358 crash in Toronto which was partially settled after 3 years for $12 million.
Manx2 have already denied responsibility, as they claim that they only acted as a booking agent for the flight and that they chartered the aircraft from Flightline BCN. More will be known later this week when the preliminary report into the disaster by the Air Accident Investigation Unit is released.


Teenager Awarded 110,000 Euros for Eye Injury

A teenager who sustained an eye injury when his eye was impaled on an exposed milking machine hook is to receive 110,000 Euros in compensation. Mr. Justice John Quirke heard at the High Court how David Booth, 17, of Stradbally, County Laois was just eight years of age when he sustained the horrific injury in the milking parlour at his family’s farm in April 2002.
Although David has no recollection of the events leading up to the accident, it was claimed that the defendants – Senior Milking Machine Company Ltd and Stradbally Farm Services Ltd, both of Stradbally, County Laois – were negligent on the grounds that the milking machine was not designed and constructed to a safe standard.
The defendant denied the claim, brought on David’s behalf through his elder sister Elaine, and also that they permitted an exposed hook to be present on the machine with no consideration of the hazard it presented. The settlement was approved by Mr Justice John Quirke without admission of liability.


Soccer Match Injury Results in 100,000 Euros Compensation Payment

A Limerick man, who sustained a broken leg after an assault during a soccer match, is to receive a 100,000 Euros compensation payment in a civil settlement.
Limerick Circuit Criminal Court heard how Mr Hooman Reyhani (43) was competing in a six-a-side soccer game organised by the University of Limerick (UL), when he was attacked in an off-the-ball incident by University professor Dr Frederic Royall (53).
In a bizarre incident, described by Judge Carroll Moran as “disgraceful”, Dr Royall punched Mr Reyhani in the face causing a facial laceration and the victim to fall awkwardly – fracturing his leg in two places.
As a result of the assault which occurred in August 2007, Mr Reyhani – a self-employed engineer – has to wear an ankle brace and is house-bound; unable to enjoy simple pleasures such as a walk in the park with his son.
Binding Dr Royall to keep the peace for three years, Judge Carroll Moran heard that the compensation payment of 100,000 Euros had been agreed by the lawyers for both men in the High Court before the criminal case for assault was finalised.


Psychiatric Patient Receives 150,000 Euro Award after Jumping From Window

The psychiatric patient has received a €150,000 settlement in the High Court for self inflicted leg injuries suffered after jumping a second floor window of Saint Brendan’s Psychiatric Hospital

The case was taken against the Health Services Executive (HSE) over the incident on March 12th, 1998, when it was alleged that the patient was placed in an inappropriate ward, that the windows were not correctly secured, and that no measures were taken to prevent patients from jumping out of windows.

Mr Justice John Quirke approved the settlement in the High Court and the victim is expected to be made a ward of court.

The patient’s identity was not revealed for legal reasons and has been moved to another secure facility.

The compensation settlement was made without any admission of liability.


Footpath Fall Results in 40,000 Euro Compensation

Nathan Clarke of Ballymun, County Dublin, has been awarded compensation of €40,000 in the High Court in a case against Dublin City Council over alleged failure to clean broken glass from a public foothpath outside his home.

The accident occurred in 2001 when Nathan Clarke was seven years old and resulted in extensive injuries to his left hand that required surgery in Temple Street Children’s Hospital.

The case was taken by Nathan’s father Joseph Clarke, who acted as next friend in the High Court case.

It was alleged in court that Dublin City Council had failed to carry out its statutory duty to keep the foothpath clean and that the council was guilty of nuisance by allowing broken glass to accumulate on the pavement in an area used by children to play


Court Judge Unhappy With 5 Million Euro Settlement for Brain Damaged Car Crash Victim

In the High Court, Mr Justice John Quirke claimed that he was unhappy with the system of compensation settlements when awarding more than 5 million Euros to Caroline Bogue of Belturbet, County Cavan, following an agreement between the claimant and the joint defendants – her cousin Ciaran Bogue and the Motor Insurance Board of Ireland (MIBI).

Stating that the money would be gone within 10 years, he criticised the lack of staged payments for awards of personal injury compensation and commented that the value of the settlement represented just 60% of what the claim was worth. His comments follow the case of Caroline, who suffered severe brain damage when an uninsured car, driven by the defendants brother, crashed into a tree just outside of her home town of Belturbet in May 2003. Despite wearing a seatbelt, Caroline – who was aged just 17 at the time of the accident – was admitted to Cavan Hospital where a CT scan of her brain showed she had suffered major haemorrhaging.
Now 24, Caroline needs assistance for daily living and feeding herself due to the consequences of her accident. She also experiences difficulty sleeping, has poor short-term memory and slow speech. Caroline will need permanent care throughout the rest of her life, and Mr Justice John Quirke is concerned that the settlement is insufficient for her lifetime and that she will become reliant on the State.

As it was alleged by the defence that Caroline knew that the car in which she was travelling was uninsured, Mr Justice John Quirke accepted that there was a risk that the claimant might be awarded less if the case went to a full hearing, and was guided by Caroline´s counsel. However, he commented that he was unhappy that he had to approve “a settlement so utterly speculative and imprecise from Caroline’s point of view”. A new system, which is due to be introduced in about 18 months time, will provide for continual payments over the period of the victim’s life.


Passenger in Car Crash Awarded Over 5 Million Euro in High Court

Caroline Bogue of Belturbet, County Cavan, has obtained a settlement of over €5 million in a High Court settlement after an uninsured car in which she was travelling as a passenger crashed into a tree, resulting in severe injuries. Caroline Bogue suffered brain damage and will require assistance for the rest of her life.
The accident occured on May 1st, 2003, when Caroline Bogue was 17 years old.
The case was taken against the car driver Declan Brogue, the car ower Ciaran Bogue, and the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland. Liability was denied in the case on the grounds that Caroline Bogue was aware that car was not insured and was allegedly taken without the permission of the owner. The settlement was made without admitting liability.
Mr Justice John Quirke said that the case highlighted the need for a new system of staged payments in personal injuries cases.


Interesting New Statistics from Injuries Board Ireland

New statistics from the Injuries Board Ireland show women accounted for 72 per cent of the 1,443 personal liability awards in 2009 that were settled for the amount recommended by the Injuries Board Ireland.

However, when presenting the compensation award statistics, there is no explanation whatsoever regarding the cases that were not settled through the Injuries Board Ireland process but went to the High Court, where the awards can be significantly higher or were settled by negotiation with an insurance company.

The true statistics do not in fact exist, since the vast majority of injury compensation claims that go to court are settled privately.   Presenting a subset of the overall statistics without qualifying explanations is somewhat misleading.

The data only covers awards that were proposed by the Injuries Board Ireland and then accepted by both parties – and therefore does not include certain categories of injury compensation (cases where the defendant does not admit full liability, medical negligence claims, complicated cases – perhaps involving contributory negligence, defamation cases, phycological injuries like PTSD,  etc).

What the published statistics do not reveal the reasons why women represent such as high percentage of the settlements made by the Injuries Board Ireland.

Are women more likely to accept the Injuries Board Ireland recommendation whereas men are more likely to want a higher compensation amount? It seems highly likely that this is in fact the case.

It should be remembered that the statistics only represent a small subset of the injury compensation claims in Ireland because they are only award recommendations by the Injuries Board Ireland that have been accepted by both parties.

The category of personal injury known as “slips, trips, and falls” accounted for two thirds of all public liability awards. But perhaps this seemingly very high percentage is because they are precisely the type of small, straightforward personal injury claim that the Injuries Board Ireland is able to handle efficiently. The comparatively fast processing times for these types of simple claim is one of key benefits of the Injuries Board Ireland.

Just over half of the incidents occurred in privately owned buildings such as pubs or cinemas and just under a quarter of the awards were made against public authorities. However, the statistics might perhaps simply mean that public authorities are just more likely to accept the recommendations of the Injuries Board Ireland, whereas private building owners are more likely to defend compensation claims. The only way of determining the true percentage of claims against public authorities is additional statistical information.

The Injuries Board Ireland statistics show that 57 per cent of compensation claims were for amounts of less than €20,000.  However, this is certainly a self-serving statistic aimed at reducing the injury award expectations of the general public. In fact, the Injuries Board Ireland seems keen to promote its role in reducing the costs of injury compensation claims, stating that it is “delivering €100m in savings each year”.  If the figure is great, it is great news for insurance companies and also beneficial to the general public, but comes at the cost of victims receiving lower amounts of compensation.


Whiplash Claim Dismissed Following Misleading Evidence

Mr Justice John Quirke has ruled against a woman claiming €410,000 damages for loss of earnings arising from a whiplash injury claim, finding that it was “highly probably” that she gave misleading evidence regarding her injuries and capacity to work.  Mary Farrell of Finglas South, County Dublin was involved in a car accident with a bus belonging to Dublin Bus on June 14th 2004 at the junction of North Circular Road and Dorset Street.

Dublin Bus provided the court with videos of Ms. Farrell mowing the grass and emptying the grass box over a wall, repeatedly raising her arm in the process despite her injury the nature of her whiplash claims.

Dublin Bus also presented evidence of a comfortable lifestyle, including expensive cars and foreign holidays, that was inconsistent with claims of loss of earnings and future loss of earnings.

Dublin Bus asked Mr Justice Quirke to dismiss the claim under the provision of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 that allows for the dismissal of claims where a judge considers a claimant gave material misleading evidence to increase their compensation claim or in support of a false claim.

Mr. Justice Quirke cited multiple reasons for dismissing the case.

The simply lesson from this case is that while you can work with your solicitor to ensure that you present your case for compensation in the strongest possible manner, you should never exaggerate or even make misleading statements.


Waxing Burn Victim Settles 38,000 Euro Case with Beauty Salon

Suzanne Kelly of Clonsilla, County Dublin has settled her €38,000 personal injury claim with So Belle beauty salon in the Ashleigh Centre, Castleknock, County Dublin over severe rash burns to her armpits and groin following an unsuccessful waxing.

Ms. Kelly claimed that she suffered a painful rash and swelling in the affected areas.

The beauty salon entered a full defence in the Circuit Civil Court but made an undisclosed settlement.


Ireland’s First Structured Injury Compensation Settlement Approved

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, has approved one of Ireland’s first ever structured personal injury compensation payment  Iarnród Éireann  for a security guard severely injured by collapsing steel gate. The victim suffered frontal lobe damage that changed his personality, reduced his mental capacity, and made him less aware of his surroundings.

As well as €250,000 in general damages and special damages, Iarnród Éireann has agreed to make regular index-linked payments to the injured man, including €160,000 in annual care costs in a unit operated by Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, and €1,200 montly until retirement age for loss of earnings.

The settlement agreement is an interim agreement pending expected legislation on structured compensation payments, with the case adjourned until October 2011. This new type of settlement is aimed at solving the problems associated with serious injury victims where life-expectancy and future care costs were unclear.

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns described the settlement as “imaginative, forward-looking and eminently sensible”.

It should be noted that this type of structured personal injury compensation payment will be relatively rare – only applying in cases where future long term care costs for serious injuries are unknown.  The vast majority of personal injury claims will continued to be settled in the conventional manner involving negotiations between a solicitor and an insurance company.


Claimants Avoiding Injuries Board Process For Higher Compensation in Court

An article by Patricia McDonagh in today’s Irish Independent shows that the general public has clearly completely lost faith in the Injuries Board Ireland.

There were 7,099 personal injury cases filed in the High Court and 6,999 cases filed in the Circuit Court in 2009.   This compares to 746 cases filed in the High Court in 2005, the year after the Injuries Board Ireland was set up.  So while the Injuries Board process was initially effective in persuading people to forgo their right to litigation and legal council, people soon realised that they would get higher compensation by hiring a solicitor and at least threatening to go to court (very few cases actually arrive in court).   The trend toward avoiding settling cases through the Injuries Board process and going to court is accelerating. It is believed that up to 90% of all claimants now use a solicitor.

According to McDonagh “New figures show people are going to court because they can receive higher compensation awards and get their legal costs if they are successful.”

The Irish Independent quotes senior counsel David Nolan’s explanation of why so many people are not accepting the compensation amounts recommended by the Injuries Board: “People realise that the value of their case is better being determined by a court rather than a civil service quagmire like InjuriesBoard.ie.”

It is unfair to call the injuries Board a ‘quagmire’ because in fact, it has actually speeded up the personal injury claims process in Ireland by stopping insurance companies from dragging out the process over as many years as possible.


Dublin Bus Pays 25,000 Euro Compensation to Passenger Injured by Needle Left on Bus Seat

Garreth Quinn of Clondalkin, County Dublin, has been awarded €25,000 in the Circuit Civil Court yesterday for a needle injury sustained on a bus seat. The incident happened in February 2005 when Quinn sat down on the 78A at the Liffey Valley Shopping Centre terminus, sustaining a needle injury to his leg from a syringe.  The bus driver immediately called an ambulance, which brought him to a hospital. Although tests on the syringe did not find any contamination, it was still deemed prudent to undergo blood tests and inoculations.  It took 3 years before it could be guaranteed that Quinn was not infected with hepatitis B or hepatitis C.

The bus accident claim was taken against Dublin Bus.  Judge Joseph Mathews found that visual inspections by Dublin Dub staff were not sufficient and that crevices in seats on buses should be probed for needles and syringes.  The injury compensation award consisted of €15,000 for suffering to date and €10,000 for future suffering.


Another Clerical Abuse Settlement Reached for over 250,000 Euro

The Catholic Church in Ireland has reached yet another out-of-court settlement with a child abuse victim. Compensation of over €250,000 was  paid to Marie McCormac, who was abused while a child by Fr. Bendan Smyth between 1970 and 1975.

McCormac sued Cardinal Seán Brady, the diocese of Kilmore, and the Norbertine Order.  The settlement was made without admission of liability but did include an apology.  It’s somewhat strange that liability was denied while compensation and an apology were offered.

In this particular case, it is alleged that the Catholic Church did not report allegations to the Gardaí and conducted an internal investigation that included swearing witnesses to secrecy.

The actions of a very tiny minority of priests and the subsequent response of some of the church leadership damages the reputation of the entire Catholic Church in Ireland, regardless of the fact that its overall contribution to Irish society is overwhelmingly positive through countless acts of charity helping the less fortunate in society.


Postman Awarded 32,000 Euro for Injuries Caused by Dog

Clive Haevey of Slane, County Meath, has been awarded €32,000 for injuries sustained when a dog ran out in front of his motorbike, causing him to crash. Mr Heavey was knocked unconscious and sustained two fractures to his skull.  The accident happened in March 1998 outside the Grangegeeth pub in Courty Meath.
The dog was a cross between an Alsatian and a Labrador.

The lawsuit for negligence and breach of duty claimed that the dog owner, Richard McKenna, had failed to control or supervise his dog and was not in compliance with the provisions of the 1986 Control of Dogs Act.

Mr Justice Kearns of the High Court heard the case and noted that while Mr Heavey had made a good recovery he had suffered a ‘very frightening experience”.


InjuriesBoard.ie Website Review

The InjuriesBoard.ie is one of multiple Web sites developed by Injuries Board Ireland to deal with some of the most common types of personal injuries claims.

The InjuriesBoard.ie home page design is well designed and clear for first time visitors. The InjuriesBoard.ie resisted the temptation to fill it with too much information. The focus of the home page InjuriesBoards.ie is clearly to direct first time visitors to relevant information for claimants and respondents.

The InjuriesBoard.ie Web site has a very interesting feature called The Estimator that allows site visitors see the Book of Quantum estimates for different type of injuries.  However, it looks like the award amounts have not been updated in some time because they appear low compared with awards currently reported by solicitors. The Estimator does not clearly explain the factors that impact the size of injury compensation awards, such as ongoing medical expenses or loss of earnings.

The InjuriesBoard.ie Web site does not explain in any way the rights in relation to getting help from a solicitor in making a claim. In fact, the entire topic of legal representation seems to be avoided as much as possible.  The difficult issue of O’Byrne letters is also not covered in a way that you might expect. Given the complexity and potential pitfalls of such letters, the advice on InjuriesBoard.ie in relation to these difficult litigation letters is completely inadequate. It could be considered negligent that there is no warning to seek legal advice before attempting to write such an important legal letter.

There is no clear information about the types of personal injury claims where a solicitor is always required. For example, it is not clearly explained that a solicitor is required for children’s injury claims, such as playground accident claims or school accident claims because such settlements must be approved in court.

The InjuriesBoard.ie Web site does not clearly explain when it is not possible to use the services of InjuriesBoard.ie, such as medical negligence claims.

The clear focus of the InjuriesBoard.ie Web site is information and not advice, with no warnings about potential difficulties with making a claim without the help of a solicitor. For example, the entire issue of contributory negligence is completely ignored, probably because InjuriesBoard.ie cannot deal with such cases.

The focus of InjuriesBoard.ie is clearly personal injury claims, road traffic accident claims, and injuries at work.  However, there is very little information about specific types of injury claims in the areas it does cover.  So, for example, while injuries at work is mentioned, there is no information about construction accident claims or farm accident claims.


MySpace and Facebook Continue to Expose Exaggerated Compensation Claims

Question: What sort of person tries to mislead a judge in court?

Answer: The type of person that is stupid enough to update a social networking site with evidence that contradicts their testimony.

Eric Sedie of Corte Madera, California, had his $2.5m personal injury lawsuit to dramatically reduced to $297,624.66 by US Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte due “inconsistencies.” There was no doubt that Eric Sedie had indeed sustained real injuries in 2006 during a collision with a United States Postal Service truck. What was disputed was the impact of the injuries, which Sedie claimed made his life “hell on earth.”
Judge Laporte found that “testimony revealed a pattern of exaggerations and inconsistencies” and in particular identified a MySpace entry “in which he described painting as a frustrating activity when his arm hairs would get caught in paint” – despite claiming he was unable to paint. Sedie was in fact lucky that Judge Laporte did not throw out the entire case.

The wrong lesson to take from this is that you need to avoid activities that will leave photographic or other evidence that you are lying in court, such as updating your MySpace or Facebook account. A cynical person who is just interested in gaining the maximum compensation might simply abstain from various activities until the claim has been settled (which can be fairly fast now, due to the benefits of the Injuries Board Ireland). No activity means no evidence of activity. This is particularly true in whiplash injury claims, where whiplash symptoms are often difficult to prove so the case often depends on evidence about restricted work and social activities.

The correct lesson is that honesty is best policy. Not because you might get caught and get no injury compensation. In the unlikely event that a personal injury claim actually goes to court, lies and inconsistencies will be probably spotted by the judge. The reason for honesty is that dishonesty is simply morally wrong.

MySpace and other social media sites such as Facebook will continue to be used by defence lawyers in personal injury claims.


Fireman Wins Injury Compensation Case Following Ladder Fall

Vincent McGuinness, a fireman from Dundalk, County Louth, has settled a High Court compensation claim for a five-meter fall from a ladder while fighting a fire at a derelict house at Culhane Street, Dundalk, in February 2004.  Mr McGuinness took the action against his employer Dundalk Town Council and the owner of the building that caught fire.
The case against the building owner was on the basis that he failed to secure the premises adequately and failed to ensure that a fire would not occur there. 

Mr McGuinness was injured while following a direct orders to climb a ladder that was placed by a superior officer against iron guttering, which later collapsed and moved the ladder.  Mr McGuinness landed on his back while his breathing apparatus canister was still attached to his back, causing a vertebra injury. Mr McGuinness spent spent three days in hospital and wore a neck brace for three months.  Mr McGuinness was unable to work for five months.
It was claimed that a hydraulic ladder that was available on the fire truck at the incident should have been used. The council argued that it had taken all appropriate measures, there was contributory negligence, and that the fire was started by a third party and therefore the council had no liability in law.
The case was settled before the jury made an award, presumably because the defendants were afraid of what a jury would award to a fireman injured while bravely fighting a fire.


State Claims Agency Backs Annualised Compensation Payments For Long Term Injuries

The State Claims Agency (SCA) director Ciaran Breen has backed the group investigating the feasibility of new legislation to allow for annual payments to victims of catastrophic injuries to replace the current system of large lump sum payments.

Speaking in an interview with Michael Brennan of The Irish Independent, Breen stated “We here in the SCA have been advocating that compensation in catastrophic injury cases should be paid by periodic payment order rather than the traditional lump sum because we feel that the transfer of the investment and mortality risk to the State is the proper thing to do.”

A working group chaired by Mr Justice Quirke has been set up to examine of compensation payments for catastrophic injuries can or should be awarded by way of periodical payment orders. The  group includes High Court judges, solicitors, barristers, and representatives from various organizations such as the State Claims Agency, Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland, Department of Justice, Insurance Federation of Ireland, and the Courts Service.


Boy Receives 1.28 Million Euro Following Farm Accident

Mr Justice John Quirke of the High Court in Dublin has approved a settlement award of €1.28m to a County Waterford teenager TJ Kearns, who lost a leg in a farming accident. The farm accident occurred on April 20, 2001, when TJ Kearns’  leg got entangled in a power seed sowing machine while working on a farm when he was nine years of age. TJ Kearns was in a tractor with a power harrow attached that was driven by an adult.
The defendants in the case were John Joe Flynn, Eugene Flynn and Gerard Flynn of  Dunmore East, County Waterford.  As is common in most workplace injury claims, liability in the action had been admitted. As a minor, TJ Kearns of Viewmount, Waterford sued through his father Tom Kearns.  The settlement offer had to be approved in the High Court because TJ Kearns is a minor.
While approving the settlement, Mr Justice Quirke stated that  “no money could compensate TJ fully for what he had suffered” .  TJ Kearns received treatment National Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghire and now uses an artificial leg.


Working Group On Compensation Payment Methods for Major Injuries

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, has set up a working group to examine the options regarding compensation payment methods for for catastrophic injuries cases.   The current system in Ireland relies on single lump sum payments that are an attempt to ensure that the victim is adequately compensated for the long term impact of any injuries.  This mainly involves considering the situation if the victim had not been injured.

The main problem with this system is that the life expectancy of the victims needs to be estimated.  Another problem is that a lump sum needs to be invested and it is very difficult to predict the long term performance of such investments.  There is also a danger that some victims will not invest  at all and simply spend their compensation amounts quickly.

The objective of the working group is examine of compensation payments for catastrophic injuries can or should be awarded by way of periodical payment orders.

The working group is chaired by Mr Justice Quirke and includes High Court judges, solicitors, barristers, and representatives from various organizations such as the State Claims Agency, Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland, Department of Justice, Insurance Federation of Ireland, and the Courts Service.


Boy Awarded 4.5 Million Euro for Severe Birth Injury

Mr Justice John Quirke of the High Court has approved a €4.5 million settlement for Evan Doyle, of Mountain Close, Cartron View, Sligo, for cerebral palsy that was the result of alleged negligence during his birth at Sligo General Hospital.

After complications, a medical decision was taken to perform a Caesarean section but the consultant unfortunately arrived too late and Evan was delivered by forceps and went on to develop cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia.

Because Even Dolyle is under age, the case were taken by the boy’s month Janice Doyle.

Although the Health Service Executive did agree to a compensation payment, it did not admit liability in the case.


How NOT To Build A Case For Injury Compensation

Ms Justice Mary Irvine has dismissed a personal injury claim by a student because he “deliberately misled” the court.  He was lucky that she just dismissed the claim and did not inflict additional punishment.  Alan Danagher, a student aged 22 from County Laois, was claiming against the owners of Mr O’s Nightclub in Templemore, County Tipperary, for assault on December 26th, 2005.

Mr. Danagher claimed that he was knocked to the ground by two third-party individuals and then assaulted while being forcefully removed from the premises by nightclub staff.

There was no doubt that he sustained some level of injuries when hitting his head on the ground and he was injured in a public place with witnesses. There appeared to be questions about contributory negligence and the level of injuries sustained.

There were a number of factors that indicate that Mr. Danagher was going to receive substantial compensation for his level of injuries:

  • He attended his GP doctor 50 times, indicating extremely severe problems
  • He attended physiotherapy 70 times, indicating a sustained injury problem
  • His claim was very well prepared, including both physical and psychological injuries
  • The impact on his lifestyle was documented, including being unable to play sports or participate in certain social activities and dropping out of Waterford Institute of Technology due to depression.

However, Mr. Danagher’s case was damaged by his own actions:

  • He updated his Facebook page to show his continued sporting activities, including hurling, rugby, and football.
  • He also updated his Facebook page to show social activities, as Ms Justice Irvine described as his “apparent enthusiasm for nightclubs, dancing and drinking”.
  • He denied participation in a charity parachute jump six months after he sustained his injury, despite photographic evidence, which Ms Justice Irvine described as “an act of dishonesty done to advance his claim”.

Some Lessons

A personal injury case is helped if you seek medical attention whenever it is required and damaged by not receiving medical attention when you do actually need medical help.  But while the medical records of repeated medical treatments will certainly help build the case for the severity of an injury and therefore the amount of financial compensation, excessive visits for relatively minor injuries will not fool an experienced judge.  And there are no inexperienced judges.

Be well-prepared for court and ensure you have all your facts correct. Never under any circumstances try to mislead the court.


Car Crash Victim Awarded 4.25 Million Euro Compensation

Claire Noone, now aged 25, has been awarded 4.35 million euro in the High Court for a car crash in November 2005 at Johnstown, Enfield, County Meath, in which her boyfriend John Larkin died.

Noone was ejected from the car during the impact so there was a question about wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision and therefore contributory negligence.

The result was severe lower back injuries that makes walking anything other than a short distance painful.

It was stated in court that the crash occured with another car went through a red traffic light and hit the car driven by Claire Noone with John Larkin in the front passenger seat.

The judge, Mr Justice John Quirke, was highly critical of the fact that injury compensation law in Ireland only allowed lump sum payments rather than annual payments, which he described as a “lottery situation”.


Accident Prone Man Settles Yet Another Personal Injury Claim

Taxi driver Gerard McWilliams of Tallaght, County Dublin has settled an injury claim against Eircom for a twisted ankle that was hurt on a manhole.

Mr McWilliams claimed he was injured when he twisted his ankle on the edge of an old P&T steel manhole cover outside his home.  Mr McWilliams said he was in immediate pain and was taken to Tallaght Hospital.  He claimed that he had ongoing pain and discomfort and following initial treatment, he was eventually fitted with a plaster cast. Mr McWilliams claimed ongoing pain.

The compensation claim against Eircom stated that they were negligent and in breach of duty of care towards McWilliams in relation to their ongoing maintenance, repair, upkeep, and supervision of the manhole cover.

Unlike most cases, this injury claim was not initially settled out of court and Eircom decided to contest the injury claim to the High Court.

Barney Quirke, counsel for Eircom, questioned Mr. McWIlliams about 13 or 14 previous personal injuries claims, mentioning incidents in 1987, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, and 2001.  Mr McWilliams stated that he may have been involved in 10 or 11 personal injury claims in the past but could not remember the exact details.

The number of claims by McWilliams was defended by his own counsel as “accident-prone” while McWilliams emphasized that the accidents “were not my fault”.

The court was told that McWilliams had been described by a judge in a previous injury claim case as  “the luckiest or the unluckiest man” due to the number of injuries from accidents.

However, the number of past injury compensation claims has no direct influence on the validity of the current injury compensation claims, unless some intent at fraud is demonstrated. Mr McWilliams claim was professionally prepared with appropriate medical evidence and there was no proof that this particular claim was in any way incorrect.

The claim was settled out of court, like the vast majority of personal injury claims.