Saturday 24 August 2019

'High time' people stop thinking others should pay when they've a bad experience - judge's warning on injury awards

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Stock picture

Tom Tuite

IT IS “high time” people stopped thinking others should be expected to pay after a bad experience, a judge has said.

Judge Michael Coghlan’s comment during a sitting of Dublin District Civil Court today when teenage boy was awarded €2,000 for two-weeks’ anxiety suffered following a minor road traffic accident.

He said: "he figure in ordinary circumstances is very small but in this instance the level of injury is very small. It is high time people got the idea, if they had a bad experience, expect money from a third party, has to stop.”

“One day someone is going to get a sharp lesson; they will find a judge refusing to rule it notwithstanding an offer.”

“I hear insurance companies moan at the excessive cost of litigation and I look at a case of this kind and wonder why they have problems,” he said.

The remark came as he approved a settlement in the case of a teenage boy whose mother sued on the child’s behalf following a minor accident on November 1, 2017 when he was the rear seat passenger a car.

The following day the boy attended his GP.

A medical report drafted later stated the teen had “anxiety, mainly concerned with the idea of travelling in a car”.

He fully recovered in two weeks, the judge noted.

Another case on the same list today involved an eight-year-old claiming damages from a minor car accident on July 6, 2008, at junction the Old Airport Road, Santry, Dublin.

The court was told she suffered neck pain symptoms and was taken to A&E. She did not suffer any bone fractures or loss of consciousness but had soft tissue damage for which she was prescribed Nurofen and fully recovered.

Her barrister said the injuries board assessment of the case was for €10,000.

Judge Coghlan approved the award, however, he noted a medical report stated there was no interference with recreation.

“If she is scampering around the place there is very little wrong,” he said.

He noted she had a personal injury but remarked that this was “slightly out of kilter” with the report or the child being able to engage in sport and recreational games.

Judge Coghlan said he has got to a stage where he has seen some claims have grown at such an exponential level.

A distinction could be drawn between this case and the previous one because there was evidence of some level of stress, he said.

However, he added, the figures thrown at these matters by insurance companies was without adequate regard of complexity of the case or the medical evidence.

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