Six personal injury claims for damages totalling up to €360,000 in a single rear ending accident have been thrown out by a judge or withdrawn in yet another face-off by an insurer challenging the truth of evidence relating to injuries.
In the first of five cases heard by Judge Patrick Quinn, the plaintiff Patrick Collins, (36) of Avila Park, Finglas, said in the Circuit Civil Court he would have told the defence of a previous accident “if I had known it would be brought up.”
Judge Quinn said he had been particularly disturbed on learning from intensive cross-examination of Collins by Moira Flahive, counsel for Aviva Insurance and the defendant Martin Collins, that in another earlier accident Patrick Collins had been the driver and Martin Collins the injured.
Judge Quinn said that in the accident before the court the roles had been reversed since Martin Collins was the driver and defendant and Patrick Collins the injured.
Ms Flahive, who appeared with Stephen MacKenzie Solicitors, told the court that the accident had occurred at Soldiers Hill Roundabout on the Navan-Dublin N2 on 16th June 2015.
Susan Cullen (50) of Claremont Estate, Navan, had been driving towards Dublin with her son Tadhg Cullen, now 19, and Craig McDonagh, Ashbrook, Clogherboy, Navan, now 18, when her car was rear ended.
The car that had rear ended her was driven by Martin Collins, Cappagh Road, Finglas, and included passengers Patrick Collins; Julie Collins (34) Cappagh Drive, Finglas, and his grandson Michael McDonagh Junior, Tailtain Drive, Navan.
All passengers in both cars had brought €60,000 damages claims against Martin Collins and his insurers Aviva Insurance but Julie Collins withdrew her claim half way through the hearings.
An objection had earlier been raised about a single legal team representing the driver and the insurance company, particularly when certain specific allegations were likely to be raised during the hearing. Judge Quinn said the six claimants could take it that the legal representation was in court on behalf of the defendant Mr Collins.
Ms Flahive cross-examined all claimants as to the extent of their injuries and how they had been caused in the two cars. She was told by some that the accident had taken place around 4:30pm and by others around 8:30pm. When Judge Quinn called the defendant Martin Collins to give sworn evidence about the time, Collins said he could not remember.
The court was told the gardaí had been called but they had stated they were too busy and advised the parties just to exchange their details.
Judge Quinn, in throwing out five of the cases, referred to the confusion about time and the fact that despite all of the claimants being at the scene for more than half an hour only the two drivers had apparently got out of the cars. There had also been a matter of a claimant in one car being a friend on Facebook with a claimant in the other car.
He made orders for costs against all claimants except Susan Cullen who, he said in dismissing her claim, had struck him as a genuine person. In the circumstances of all of the evidence he had been unable to resolve the dilemma he had been presented with in deciding her case.
Rob Smyth, Head of Fraud, Aviva, said afterwards: "Although settling this type of claim for small sums of money may appear to be an attractive financial option it only encourages frivolous claims and ultimately adds to the cost of motor insurance premiums."