Tuesday 17 October 2017

Assault victim who suffered head injuries brings legal challenge over alleged delay in finalising her claim

The Four Courts
The Four Courts

Tim Healy

A WOMAN who suffered head injuries as a result of an assault 13 years ago has brought a legal challenge over an alleged delay by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal in finalising her claim.

Delays within the tribunal system appear "endemic" and there was an eight-year delay before an interim award was made to Alwyn Byrne, the High Court heard.  Only "holding" responses have been received to correspondence from herself and her solicitor, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan was told. 

Ms Byrne, from Belturbet, Co Cavan, is a qualified physiotherapist but has been unable to resume that work as a result of head injuries suffered by her when she was the victim of a random assault by a man in Belturbet, her counsel Siobhan Phelan said.  She is unable to make any long-term plans until her claim is finally addressed, counsel said.

Her client is in a "very difficult" situation and lives in "a state of fear" due to her injuries which were primarily head injuries.

An issue had been raised at one point concerning actuarial assistance but her side contended the "real problem" arose from the failure of the tribunal "to function effectively", counsel said.

The case also raises issues concerning the scope of the criminal injuries compensation scheme which provides for payment of special damages due to loss of earnings but does not provide damages for pain and suffering, she said.

However, the primary issue concerned the delay in making a final award, she said. Her side was told last year there was a delay in appointing new members to the tribunal, counsel added.

Mr Justice Noonan said he would grant leave for the judicial review proceedings, aimed at securing a final determination from the tribunal.

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