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'Time-waster in €75k crash case leapt out to stop photos', says OAP

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Damage to the front of the 75-year-old driver’s car

Damage to the front of the 75-year-old driver’s car

Damage to the front of the 75-year-old driver’s car

A 75-year-old man has described how the driver of a car he rear-ended jumped out to stop a witness taking photos, but later demanded to be removed from his vehicle on a spinal board.

The accident happened in August 2013 after the driver mysteriously slammed on his brakes coming up to a roundabout in Co Limerick, despite nothing being in front of him.

He then pursued a personal injuries claim for €75,000.

The man forced to defend the claim for the past five years, who wishes to remain anony-mous, travelled to the High Court last week.

The plaintiff tried to settle for damages but Aviva, the defendant's insurer, refused, arguing that the claim was exaggerated owing to the minimal contact between the cars.

Annoyed

After five years of to-ing and fro-ing, the plaintiff withdrew his case.

The defendant said he was mostly annoyed about the "time-wasting" involved and the racking up of legal fees of "at least €40,000".

His wife is in a nursing home with Alzheimer's disease and he described the incident as "wholly inconvenient".

"I knew all along I was in the right and I'm amazed at how this man managed to turn a fender bender into a two-day High Court case," he told Herald.

"He took up court time, police time, the lawyers' and insurers' time and he took up my time.

"I had to pay for a hotel to stay in for the court date as well.

"It was a summer's day when it happened and I was driving around a roundabout and his car was stopped at the exit to the left of me.

"As I indicated, this guy drives out in front of me and I had to slam on my brakes very hard to stop.

"Out of annoyance, I beeped my horn and he stuck his hand out the window and gave me the two-finger salute.

"We continued along the road when all of a sudden he brakes out of nowhere.

"I was in third gear at the time and swerved to the right to try and avoid him but hit his bumper.

"A friend of mine happened to be in the area at the time and went to take photos but the other guy was trying to obstruct him."

Aviva launched an investigation and said it was satisfied that it was highly unlikely that any injuries could have been sustained.

"It's not an issue because there was a claim against me. I was willing to pay for the damage caused," the pensioner said.

"The issue is that this guy exaggerated a claim and caused me to damage my car.

"That car was one of the loves of my life, it was my toy. I had it for years.

"I don't drive any more, not because of the accident, but it's not worth the hassle and I have the free travel now.

"It's just annoying. I had been driving since I was 18 and I'd never had one claim.

"I just wish we had tougher sanctions for time-wasters like this."

Aviva head of fraud Rob Smyth said the insurer was committed to defending spurious claims.

Tougher

"As part of our zero-tolerance strategy, last-minute approaches by a plaintiff to settle these claims for so-called small money and legal costs will not be entertained," he said.

"In this incident the offending motorist was taken to hospital on a spinal board while minutes earlier he had been walking without any apparent difficulty.

"Incidents like this not only impact on the A&E services but also waste the valuable time of gardai and the courts.

Last week, a Circuit Court judge threw out motor insurance personal injury claims totalling €180,000 and warned three claimants that An Garda Siochana was going to crack down on fraudulent claims for compensation.


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