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€80k payout to man can be used by insurance company to recoup claims for separate uninsured accident

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AXA Insurance

AXA Insurance

AXA Insurance

AN insurance company can control an €80,000 award to a man so the money can be used to recoup compensation payouts for separate claims against the man for an uninsured driving accident, the High Court ruled.

Martin Tomescu, Belgard Road, Tallaght, Dublin, was awarded the €80,000 on February 25 last arising out of a traffic accident in 2002 when he was a passenger in a car driven by his father, Safir Bita, against whom the award was made and whose insurer was AXA.

A few days earlier, AXA had made settlements totalling €70,000 to three people who were passengers in a car driven by an uninsured Mr Tomescu and which was involved in a separate accident in Carlingford, Co Louth, in November 2009.

AXA says the car in that 2009 accident, which was owned by his father, was taken by Mr Tomescu without permission from his father.  Mr Tomescu claimed another man was driving at the time of that accident.

The settlements for the three passengers in the 2009 accident were against the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), which compensates victims of uninsured driving, and against Mr Tomescu.

The MIBI and obtained an order from Mr Justice Paul Gilligan today appointing a receiver over the separate €80,000 award to Mr Tomescu so that it can control the money for fear it will be spent before judgment is obtained against him.

Darragh Lenehan, a solicitor in AXA Legal Services, said in an affidavit the accident in Carlingford occurred when the car hit a wall and ended up on the beach at Greenore.

Two gardai on mobile patrol came across the scene and saw two females standing on the road in a distressed state while there were four males lying on the ground beside the car, including Mr Tomescu.

A man arrived and told gardai the crashed car had been involved in a burglary at his home in Riverstown, Co Louth, that night and one of the females at the scene had been inside his house.  

Later, Mr Tomescu's father Safi Bita, who was insured to drive the car but not his son, told AXA representatives that he had left the vehicle keys on a table in his bedroom and it appeared that while he was asleep Martin took them, Mr Lenehan said.

Mr Tomescu initially maintained a man named "Alex" had been driving the car, that he was a front seat passenger and the five other occupants were seated in the rear of the Ford Mondeo.

Four of the other occupants sued over the accident naming Tomsecu as the driver.  Three of the cases were settled while Mr Tomescu, who broke his arm in the accident, did not bring proceedings over it, Mr Lenehan said.

Mr Tomsecu also gave evidence he was not the driver when the crash occurred but had driven the car prior to the accident, Mr Lenehan said.  Gardai also recorded him as the driver, he said.

In view of Mr Tomescu's "evasive behaviour" during the insurer's accident investigation, and because of his admission he had taken his father's car keys without permission, AXA has serious concerns he will dissipate the €80,000, Mr Lenehan said.

The application to appoint a receiver over the monies was brought with only the MIBI and AXA parties represented.

The case comes back before the court later this month.

Online Editors