Daniel James O’Connell of Portlaoise, County Laois has secured a €300,000 in settlement from the Health Service Executive (HSE) of a High Court claim for alleged medical negligence in which his shoulder was damaged at birth.
The claim was against the Midland Health Board (now the HSE) and consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist John Conway. O’Connell is 14 years old and was born in March 1995, which illustrates the time delay that is often associated with medical negligence claims because it is often necessary to determine the long term impact of any problems.
It should be noted that the settlement was without any admission of liability. In fact, compared with some personal injury claims, it is fairly difficult to make a negligence claim for birth incidents because there is a natural level of risk involved. The infant mortality rate in the Middle Ages in Europe prior to modern medicine was about 200 deaths per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate in Ireland is less than 5 deaths per 1,000 live births, one of the lowest in the world. Births are considered a ‘routine’ operation – and the standard procedures are extremely well defined. But no matter how well the medical team performs, there are going to be a few dozen incidents in Ireland every year given the population size and birth rate. The claimant typically needs to be able to prove that the medical team did not follow standard procedures and best practices or just made an obvious mistake.
David Rawlings, an engineer, died in January 2000 following a routine investigative procedure called a laparotomy, a surgical procedure involving an incision through the abdominal wall to gain access into the abdominal cavity. There were complications during the procedure and Rawlings died the following day.
St James’s Hospital, Dublin and the Health Service Executive did not contest the case and settled for €400,000 before it went to the High Court. If the case had gone before the High Court, it would have been for damages assessment only.
The payment was divided between between the current wife, Ariuna Rawlings (€250,000), and his previous wife Fiona Rawlings (€150,000), with whom he had a child and was providing financial support.
Because medical negligence was admitted, the exact details of the case were not revealed.
The parents of two children have just obtained compensation of €6,500 plus legal costs for psychological injury from Budget Travel. Armed intruders broke into their holiday apartment in Lanzarote. The incident happened in May 2002 when the children were 8 and 5 years old. In a separate claim, the parents obtained compensation of €28,400 plus legal costs at the Circuit Court in Killarney in January 2006 for loss of property, personal trauma and the recovery of the holiday cost. The family claimed that Budget Travel failed to provide suitably secure accommodation.
The family were staying at Los Orquideas apartments in Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote when they were awoken at 3.00 by three intruders, one of whom was in their children’s bedroom with a long screwdriver. The gang removed the content of their security box, including €1,600 in cash, €12,000 in jewellry, passports, and a credit card.
A Waterford man has just made a settlement for £3m in compensation for road traffic accident injuries in an accident that cost the lives of two other people.
Owen Griffin, aged 26 and from Waterford, was asleep in the back of a vehicle that was involved in a head-on collision with a motorcycle in Scotland. The claim was made against the driver of the car in which Owen Griffin was a seat-belted passenger.
The accident happened in March 2004 and resulted in a coma and brain injuries. Owen Griffen has been living in an assisted living home in Waterford since February 2007.
The settlement was made out of court prior to a High Court hearing in Belfast (the driver was from Omagh in County Tyrone).
A Cook County, Illinois, jury has awarded $8.1 million to an Irish emigrant carpenter, Don Duffy, who dived into a swimming pool and was rendered an incomplete quadriplegic when he accidently dived into 3½ feet deep water.
Don Duffy was 22 years old at the time of the accident and was found 50% liable for his own injuries, meaning the award was reduced to $4,051,200. It is the highest ever pool-related accident compensation award in Illinois.
The case took considerable time to work its way through the legal system, where it was initially dismissed through a summary judgement that was reversed in an appellate court, which ruled that there was a potential product liability based on the pool design.
The pool had an unusual design with two shallow sections – one at either end rather than the traditional deep end and shallow end design used in almost all swimming pools. A product liability claim was made against the installer of the swimming pool, Black Oak Pool & Supply, and the manufacturer of the pool liner, Latham Plastics. The jury found in favor of Latham Plastics. Liability was shared equally between Black Oak Pool & Supply and Don Duffy so the the reward was reduced by half.
The latest statistics show that €31 million in compensation was awarded for workplace injuries in 2008.
Unlike personal injuries in general where most awards are made to women, three quarters of workplace accident injuries are suffered by men. There were 972 claims in 2008 resulting in an average award of €32,266. One third of awards were for over €38,000 and the largest award was €582,000.
The construction industry suffers the most workplace injuries – 28% of the total. The statistics show that injuries due to workplace accidents are remarkably well spread around different sectors: manufacturing 20%, hotels and restaurants 13%, retail 12%, public bodies 9%, and transport/storage 5%.
Three quarters of workplace accidents were caused by slips, trips, and falls (44%), lifting or handling (18%), and machinery and defective equipment (16%).
Interestingly, many accident victims have multiple injuries. The most common injuries are sprains (42%), fractured bones (25%), cuts (24%), bruises (19%), and crushing (12%).
A €250,000 settlement has been approved by Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns of the High Court for the family of a motorcyclist, James Walsh, who died in a tragic accident on Fethard Road, Clonmel, County Tipperary. The award was made to Catherine Walsh and the couple’s two daughters, who arrived at the scene of the accident shortly after it happened. The action was for mental stress and nervous shock. The children were eight and fourteen years old at the time of the accident.
It was alleged in court that the accident happened when James Walsh took evasive action to avoid another vehicle that emerged from a side road. Walsh swerved away from the vehicle but lost control of his motorbike and died from the injuries in the resulting crash.
Nora Hayes of Midleton, County Cork, has secured a settlement of €250,000 from the Bon Secours Hospital, Cork, following the death of her husband Patrick Hayes due to a kidney operation in November 2004.
The medical negligence claim was denied and the settlement was without admission of liability by the hospital.
Patrick Hayes was in good health prior to an operation to remove a kidney. A slight ooze from the spleen was noticed during the operation and surgical gauze was applied. Hayes was admitted to the intensive care unit after the operation and subsequently suffered a massive haemorrhage and died following attempts to resuscitate him. It was alleged that the nursing staff were aware that Patrick Hayes was having difficulty but failed to react.
A postmortem found a blood clot surrounding the spleen and more than two litres of blood in the peritoneal cavity.
Austin Dowling, aged 59 of Tallaght, County Dublin, has settled a claim for damages with the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Tallaght. Like the vast majory of workplace injury claims, the claim was settled before it went to court. The amount of the settlement was not revealed and there was no admission of liability from the hospital.
Austin Dowling is a mortuary porter at the hospital and claimed he hurt his should after lifting a dead man from a hospital bed into a concealment trolley in January 2005. Dowling claimed he suffered loss of movement and pain in his right shoulder that required surgery.
The claimant alleged negligence and breach of duty by the hospital. His claims included lack of a safe system of work, failing to provide proper equipment/machinery to lift a body by failing to provide a roller board to slide a body onto a trolley. He also claimed the trolley was unsafe and he had not received specific training for the type of concealment trolley involved.
Lifting injuries are one of the most common workplace injury claims.
The Law Society of Northern Ireland has published a report on Third Party Capture that highlights the problems with the practice and calls for greater protection for the general public. Third Party Capture happens when insurance companies to offer claimants or even potential claimants compensation for an accident before they are able to engage with a solicitor or obtain medical evidence.
The specific issues that the Law Society has identified are:
Wrong information being given to injured parties of the extent of their injuries and their legal
Actively discouraging injured parties from seeking a medical opinion and report;
Actively discouraging injured parties from obtaining legal advice; and
Pressurising injured parties who have not yet recovered from their injuries to make decisions
through persistent phone calls and door stepping at their home.
One of the unexpected results of the introduction of the Injuries Board Ireland is that insurance companies have become faster in general at offering out-of-court settlements for personal injury claims. The report points out that victims should never settle a case without getting a medical report and it is preferable to get legal advice before settling any personal injury claims.