Monday 16 July 2018

Injury claims dismissed as garda says damage in photographs 'not the damage I saw at scene'

Winifred McDonagh (left) and Melissa McDonagh (right), two of the plaintiffs involved in the case
Winifred McDonagh (left) and Melissa McDonagh (right), two of the plaintiffs involved in the case
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

FOUR women have had their personal injury claims dismissed after a garda said the damage shown in photographs in court was not the damage he saw at the scene.

Julianne McDonagh, Anne McDonagh, Melissa McDonagh and Winifred McDonagh, with an address of Nashes Boreen, Fairhill, Co Cork, each brought injury claims after the vehicle they were travelling in was rear ended.

They appeared in Cork Circuit Court before Judge James O'Donohue, who dismissed their claims and awarded costs against them.

Garda Eoin Hodnett, who attended at the scene after the vehicle was rear-ended, told the court that the damage evident in the photographs presented by the plaintiffs was not the damage he saw at the scene.

Plaintiff Winifred McDonagh
Plaintiff Winifred McDonagh

The woman who rear-ended the vehicle said there was only a scratch to the back of the car following the accident.

David Harrington, an assessor who gave evidence, said that when he viewed the vehicle it had a "break in the bumper, a dislodged bumper, bumper bar bent, rear panel driven in and the boot floor also kinked".

Each of the plantiffs said they sustained soft tissue injuries to the neck and back, while Julianne McDonagh said she sustained a fracture to her rib.

An x-ray report indicated that Ms McDonagh had fractured her rib, but the evidence heard that none of the passengers complained of any injuries at the scene of the accident.

Plaintiff Melissa McDonagh
Plaintiff Melissa McDonagh

Judge O'Donohue said he found it strange that Julianne McDonagh did not complain of her injury at the scene, as fractures of the ribs are immediately painful.

He dismissed all of the claims and awarded costs against each of the plaintiffs.

Independent.ie understands that all four plaintiffs have since lodged an appeal.

The defendant in the claim was insured by Aviva, who welcomed the decision of the judge in this case.

However, they highlighted how the appeal will again be cost-heavy.

Head of their fraud department, Rob Smyth, told Independent.ie: "There is a significant cost in defending an appeal,  whereas the plaintiffs are simply rolling the dice. It makes little or no difference to the plaintiffs if they owe us €20k or €40K hence the appeal."

Mr Smyth praised the vigilance of Garda Hodnett at the scene of the accident.

He says Aviva will continue to robustly defend all exaggerated claims.

"That is our duty to our customers.  But for society at large, I think it’s now important that the Gardaí take appropriate action in these cases."

In April, eight motor claims brought against driver's insured with Aviva have been dismissed.

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