201512.03
2

Judge Adjourns Approval Hearing due to Too Low Offer of Compensation

A judge has adjourned a second approval hearing on the grounds that the injury settlement he had been asked to approve was a too low offer of compensation.

In November 2012, Harry Ryan (12) from Swords in County Dublin had been playing on a local green, when he slipped and badly cut his lower right leg on a piece of broken glass. Harry was taken to the local VHI Swift Care Clinic, where he had eight stitches under a local anaesthetic, and steri-strips applied to help his cut heal.

Through his mother – Ita – Harry made an injury compensation claim against Fingal County Council and a settlement of injury compensation was agreed amounting to €3,000 without an admission of liability. As the claim was made on behalf of a child, the settlement had to be approved before the claim could be closed.

However, at the Circuit Civil Court last week, Judge James O´Donohoe refused to approve the settlement as he considered it too low an offer of compensation in relation to Harry´s injury. He adjourned the case for a week so that the two parties could reconsider the settlement, and a second approval hearing was scheduled for yesterday.

At the second approval hearing, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was told that the offer of compensation had been increased to €3,500. Harry´s barrister told Judge Groarke that he was conscious of the recent dismissal of a similar claim in the High Court and that Fingal County Council had prepared a full defence if the claim went to a full hearing.

Having inspected the scar on Harry´s leg, Judge Groarke said that the value of the proposed settlement was still a too low offer of compensation. The judge said that an appropriate settlement should amount to €30,000 and he adjourned the case for another week so that Harry´s solicitor could assess the risk of taking the claim to a full court hearing.

Judges refusing to approve settlements when a too low offer of compensation has been made is happening more frequently. Insurance companies often encourage plaintiffs to accept inappropriate offers for their own financial gain. If you have received an offer of settlement, which you believe may be a too low offer of compensation, you should seek professional legal advice.