When you claim compensation for whiplash accidents, it is important to be aware that no two claims are identical. You may have sustained exactly the same degree of whiplash injury as somebody else, but the impact that the injury has on your quality of life and the pursuits your injury prevents you from doing may be far different.
This is an important consideration if you are approached by the negligent party´s insurance company with an unsolicited offer of whiplash accidents compensation. Neither you nor the insurance company will be aware of what constitutes an accurate settlement of your claim for a whiplash injury, so to accept the offer without a professional assessment of your claim would be unwise.
If you would like to organise a professional assessment of your claim for whiplash accidents compensation, you are invited to call out Solicitors Advisory Bureau and discuss your injury – and the impact it has had on your quality of life – with an experienced personal injury solicitor. The solicitor will also be able to answer any questions you may have about claiming injury compensation for whiplash accidents.
Posted: July 18th, 2018
Cheng Zhang, a Chinese accountancy student based in Dublin, has been awarded more than €250,000 in personal injury compensation damages after a High Court judge ruled that she had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after an accident where she was struck by a car in Dublin in 2011.
The total amount of compensation awarded to the 36-year-old girl by Mr Justice Anthony Barr was €465,526. However this was reduced due to contributory negligence. The contributory negligence was assessed at 45pc as she had decided to cross the junction when the pedestrian light was still red.
The judge said that after the car crash Ms Zhang became very mentally unhealthy and could no longer complete her work duties. Her job was her only source of money and, due to this, she fell into rent arrears, became homeless and relied on local authority emergency accommodation.
The judge said that, taking the level of intelligence, ambition and high level functioning which Ms Zhang displayed prior to the accident, he was happy to believe that she would have gone on to qualify as a certified accountant and would be in full employment if it was not for the incident.
Ms Zhang, from of the Liaoning province of China, arrived in Ireland in 2003 to study English. When the accident occurred she was studying accountancy.
She had taken the car accident compensation action against the driver of the car Stephen Farrell due to the accident that occurred on April 17 2011. She had been crossing at the junction of Merrion Row and Merrion Street Upper when she was hit by Mr Farrell’s car and thrown into the air.
The Court was told that she suffered soft tissue injury to her knees and pelvis and a blow to the head. The result of this was that she was unable to move or communicate with anyone for about an hour after the accident took place. The Court was also advised that Ms Zhang went on to experience severe and constant mental illness in the form of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as the condition known as fibromyalgia.
Mr Farrell Legal Counsel told the Court that Ms Zhang had listed a number of physical complaints for which no organic basis could be proven and that she now experiences an anxiety disorder.
Mr Justice Barr said that he believed the evidence of Ms Zhang’s psychiatrist that she suffered serious mental health issues due to the road traffic accident and had undergone a catastrophic change to her mental stability.
He said that he also accepted the evidence of the psychiatrist that stated Ms Zhang’s symptoms are chronic and enduring despite the best efforts at treatment so far.
Posted: June 15th, 2018
Benjamin Heffernan, a former bin man who experienced a severe brain injury after he was thrown from a waste disposal truck to the roadhas settled his work injury compensation action for €3.5m.
Mr Heffernan fell through the side door of the van cracking his skull in the fall and being inflicted with a brain injury, his solicitor Liam Reidy SC advised the High Court. He was working with a van that was owned by Killarney Waste Disposal when he was bringing compost bins to households in the Durrus area of Bantry, Co Cork at the time of the accident occurring when the incident occurred in January 2015.
When he landed on the road after being thrown from the bin lorry, Mr Heffernan lost consciousness and was rushed by ambulance to nearby Dunmanaway. From there he was airlifted to Cork University Hospital where he underwent an emergency craniotomy. After this he was later brought to the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Dublin. He remained in the hospital until August 2015.
Mr Heffernan, now aged 50, will no long be able to work though he has regained some mobility according to his legal representatives. In approving the work injury car accident compensation settlement Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he felt it was a good one and he wished Mr Heffernan and his family all the best.
Solicitor Amy Connolly of Cantillons Solicitors, speaking outside the court, said Mr Heffernan had remained in hospital for 33 weeks following the accident having experienced life changing injuries. She said: “This settlement will provide for the ongoing care of Mr Heffernan, but no money can ever truly compensate him for the effect his injuries have had on his day to day life”.
Counsel for the waste disposal company argued that Mr Heffernan had allegedly told the driver to proceed before he got in the back of the van. Additionally it was claimed he (Mr Heffernan) did not ensure the van was decommissioned when he allegedly was aware of a defect in the latch of the van door. Mr Heffernan denied these claims.
Posted: February 15th, 2018
A 10% rise in the number of accident claims involving uninsured or untraceable drivers grew by almost 10 per cent since 2016.
Spokespeople for the insurance industry sector sources have revealed that say the increasing costs of rising costs of premiums are possible a contributing factor to the steep increase in claims registered by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI).
Set by in 1955, the MIBI compensates the victims in vehicle accidents involving uninsured and unidentified vehicles. It is funded by insurance companies fund.
Per annum, the MIBI distributes between €55 million and €60 million in insurance settlements with a mean cost per insurance claim of €55,364.
2,758 claims were registered by the MIBI in 2017, a relatively minor increase on the 2,802 claims submitted in 2016.
On a county by county basis Co Dublin registered the most claims with 41 per cent of all compensation claims submitted to the bureau throughout 2017. It was followed closed by Cork and Limerick in second and third place.
In other counties, the highest percentage increase was experienced in Leitrim with 70 per cent). Next was Roscommon, Carlow and Monaghan with 60%, 43% and 42% respectively.
Posted: December 10th, 2017
In its first ever report the the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) has called for injury data held by insurance companies to be released on an ongoing basis.
The PIC submitted the approvals to the government, saying that data regarding the incidence of ‘whiplash’ and other soft tissue injuries should be released to.
Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, Chairperson of the Commission that was established to address the rising expense of motor insurance, remarked that these figures should be made available from insurance companies. They could then form part of the National Claims Information Database which is being developed by the Central Bank of Ireland currently.
Additionally the report also finds that the figures being paid out for whiplash compensation claims should be connected to the severity of the injury inflicted, with a standardised grading scheme set up to make this easier. The report also says there should be more transparency in respect of payouts of whiplash compensation as levels of general damages are not currently accounted for in legislation.
Legal firms have responded negatively to the report. Jody Cantillon, Associate solicitor at Cantillons Solicitors commented on the report saying “Firstly, the basis for the Personal Injuries Commission seems to us to be flawed in that the rise in insurance premiums has nothing at all to do with personal injuries litigation.
Mr Cantillon added “We would have grave concerns about a standardised approach to the diagnosis, treatment and reporting of soft tissue injuries. No one person or injury is the same. The impact that a back injury might have on a new mother is different to the impact such an injury might have on a young man. A standardised approach would not take sufficient consideration of the individuals circumstances.
He finished by saying: “We are surprised at the Commission’s ‘recommendation’ that the sums awarded in whiplash claims should be linked to the severity of the condition. This is already the case, so there is nothing new there.
Posted: November 20th, 2017
A Garda has been awarded €31,000 damages as a result of injuries he suffered when his patrol car was rammed in a car accident that occurred seven years ago.
Following a high-speed chase involving a Mercedes car, Garda, and former Limerick hurler, Nigel Carey (46), of Croom, Co Limerick, was injured when the Garda patrol car he was sitting in was rear ended in October 2010.
Barrister Kevin D’Arcy, representing Garda Carey, claimed his client had been quite a renowned hurler at the time of the crash occurring in 2010. The Garda attended his family doctor to have his neck, shoulder and lower back injuries seen to and was told that he should seek physiotherapy treatment
The Garda patrol car, according to Garda Carey, “sent flying” due to the impact of the crash and was so badly damaged it had to be written off following the accident.
In the accident his neck, right shoulder and lower back were badly damaged. He also said that his shoulder was still restricted in movement slightly.
Mr Justice Bernard Barton remarked that “the best medical report supporting Garda Carey’s claim for compensation” was given by the chief medical officer from An Garda Síochána who had medically examined Mr Carey for the defendant – the Minister for Public Expenditure.
The judge praised Garda Carey’s dedication and work ethic during the Garda Traffic Car Accident Compensation hearing as Mr Carey had only been absent from work for three days in the aftermath of the incident. He also said that it was to Garda Carey’s credit that he had not made an issue of the nature of his back injury which quickly cleared up following the incident.
Mr Carey had made no attempt to build up more and more medical reports to make more of his injuries than was there in his workplace traffic compensation claim.
Posted: August 3rd, 2017
The High Court has dismissed an appeal against seven car injury compensation awards that were made by the Buncrana Circuit Court in 2015.
The car injury compensation awards related to an accident that occurred in Lifford, County Donegal, on June 28th 2011; when a hire car failed to slow down approaching a roundabout and crashed into a second car. Three of the occupants in the hire car and the four occupants of the second car suffered soft tissue injuries and claimed compensation against the negligent driver and the car hire company.
In 2015, car injury compensation awards of between €5.050 and €9.550 were made to the seven victims by the Buncrana Circuit Court. However, the car hire company appealed the awards of the grounds that the accident had been fabricated and that the seven victims considerably exaggerated the extent and effects of their soft tissue injuries to maximise the value of their car injury compensation awards.
The appeal hearing took place last month at the High Court before Mr Justice Charles Meenan, when it was claimed the negligent driver had telephoned one of the injured men when he returned the hire car to the car hire company and had spoken with him as if he knew him well. Further investigation revealed the negligent driver and plaintiffs were known to each other through their membership of the Joseph Plunkett and Charlie D’Arcy Societies.
The plaintiffs disputed the allegation as outrageous and, although admitting that they knew each other “to see”, denied the accident had been set up with the intention of claiming car injury compensation rewards. Judge Meenan reserved his decision at the original hearing, but this week dismissed the car hire company´s appeal and found in favour of the plaintiffs – upholding the car injury compensation awards made by Buncrana Circuit Court.
Explaining his decision, the judge said the friendly nature of the telephone conversation between the negligent driver and one of the injured men was not enough to support any other decision than the original one. He added the negligent driver made the call to find out details of the injured party´s car, and “one would have thought, if the collision was a setup, the information sought in the call would already have been firmly fixed in his mind prior to returning the hire car.”
Posted: June 7th, 2017
A judge has awarded a jogger trip and fall compensation against Dublin Council and increased the award to account for the council´s aggressive defence.
In September 2011, the twenty-four year old plaintiff was jogging within the Clondalkin caravan site in Dublin when he tripped on a hidden depression in the footpath and fell – fracturing a knuckle in his right hand. The man – who was a keen amateur boxer at the time – had to undergo surgery and has been unable to return to boxing since.
As the caravan site is owned by the local authority, the plaintiff claimed trip and fall injury compensation against Dublin Council on the grounds it had not been maintained to a safe standard. South Dublin County Council denied liability for the jogger´s injury and argued it had resulted from a boxing match and that his claim was fraudulent.
The case went to the High Court where it was heard by Mr Justice Anthony Barr. During cross-examination of the plaintiff, the council´s legal representatives repeated its argument the injury had occurred in a boxing match and supported the allegation by saying he had been out jogging the morning after he had suffered a soft tissue injury in a car accident.
The plaintiff agreed that he had been out jogging the morning after a car accident, and an expert medical witness testifying on the plaintiff´s behalf told Judge Barr it was normal for somebody in the plaintiff´s physical condition to try and run off his injury. Judge concluded this was a “credible explanation” for why the plaintiff had been jogging the following morning and found in his favour.
The judge awarded the plaintiff €55.000 trip and fall injury compensation against Dublin Council, and then increased the award by €5,000 aggravated damages to account for the upset the jogger had been caused by the council´s unjustified allegations that his claim was fraudulent.
Posted: May 15th, 2017
The plaintiffs in a case against a car dealership which sold them a vehicle with a faulty sunroof have been awarded compensation for injuries caused by the roof blowing off while on the motorway.
While travelling from Dublin to Newry for a pre-Christmas shopping expedition in November 2013, the sun roof of the car the two plaintiffs were travelling in blew off. The car had been travelling along the M1 at a speed of 80-90kmph. The driver was startled by the incident, and braked hard in alarm as the roof blew off of their vehicle.
Due to the very rapid stop, the five passengers in the car (the two plaintiffs and three of their family members) suffered whiplash-type injuries. There were two children in the vehicle, which were luckily unharmed. However, the driver´s 72-year-old mother, suffered several injuries, including a compression fracture to one of the vertebrae in her lower back.
The affected family members sought legal counsel, and subsequently made claims for car accident injuries against the showroom from which the car had been purchased. The vehicle had only been purchased four months prior to the incident. In their motion, the plaintiffs claimed that the sun roof had been faulty and the fault should have been identified by the dealer.
The defendants-Denis Mahony Limited of Kilbarrack Road in Dublin-denied liability for the faulty sun roof and the plaintiffs´ injuries. The case was heard at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke. The judge was informed that corrosion found around the remaining frame of the sun roof would have been present on the Toyota at the time it was sold. According to the testimony of an independent motor assessor, the corrosion led to the sun roof blowing off.
Judge Groarke stated that he understood that the sun roof being blown off at 90kmph would have been a terrifying experience for the plaintiffs, and understood why the driver plaintiff had applied the brakes so sharply. He awarded the driver of the car €12,500 compensation and her mother €25,000 compensation in settlement of their claims for car accident injuries.
Posted: December 2nd, 2016
A man has been awarded compensation for aggravating injuries in a van accident after being described as a “very unfortunate accident prone individual”.
While the plaintiff was waiting at a junction by the Thomond Bridge in March last year, he was hit from behind with “significant impact” by a car that “came out of nowhere”. The work van he had been driving was a write-off and, while he was reporting the accident to his employer, the car driver responsible for causing the accident drove off – mounting the kerb and hitting the wall of the bridge as he left.
The injured van driver – a thirty-eight year old father of two from Rhebogue in County Limerick – suffered an aggravation of existing injuries to his neck, shoulder and lower back. He attended his GP the following day and allegedly suffered for the next six months. He claims to have sustained “psychological issues” as a result of the accident and is still receiving injections to manage the pain.
The car driver responsible for causing the accident was traced and the plaintiff claimed compensation for aggravating injuries in a van accident. The car driver´s insurance company had its doubts about the legitimacy of the claim, and denied its consent for the Injuries Board to conduct an assessment. The plaintiff was subsequently issued with an authorisation to pursue his claim in court.
The hearing took place at Limerick Circuit Court, where counsel for Liberty Insurance – the negligent driver´s insurance company – told Judge James O´Donohue that the plaintiff had made a substantial number of personal injury claims in the past. Five of the previous personal injury claims related to road traffic accident that had aggravated existing injuries on each occasion.
Judge O´Donohue also heard that the plaintiff was on disability benefit for his existing injuries and was only able to work a limited number of hours each week. Noting that he had been “well compensated in the past”, Judge O´Donohue awarded the plaintiff €10,000 compensation for aggravating injuries in a van accident and described him as a “very unfortunate injury prone individual”.
Posted: February 18th, 2015
A judge has awarded €10,000 in compensation for passenger whiplash injuries after a hearing at the Circuit Civil Court.
John Connors from Saggart in County Dublin was just fifteen years of age when the car he was a passenger in collided with a wall alongside the Kiltipper Road in Tallaght on 2nd December 2010. John (now 20 years old) suffered soft tissue injuries to his back and neck and was treated at the Tallaght Hospital in Dublin.
John returned to the Tallaght Hospital on several occasions for physiotherapy on his back and neck, and on his behalf, John´s father claimed compensation for passenger whiplash injuries against the driver of the car – John´s aunt, Bridget Connors.
Bridget Connors admitted liability for the accident, but John´s father was not satisfied with the Injuries Board´s calculation of compensation for passenger whiplash injuries, and an authorisation was issued for the case to go to the Circuit Civil Court for the assessment of damages.
At the Circuit Civil Court, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard that confusion existed over the claim for compensation, as a similar case being pursued in County Cork. John told the judge that his father had taken him to see a firm of solicitors before he died last year, but he did not know who the solicitors were or how to locate them.
As the claim for compensation for passenger whiplash injuries was before Judge Groarke for the assessment of damages only, the judge asked John about any long-term deterioration of his health as a result of the accident in his aunt´s car.
John told the judge that the soft tissue injuries in his back and neck had healed, but that he suffered from an unrelated liver condition that would eventually lead to premature aging. He also commented that the liver condition prevented him from drinking alcohol.
Judge Groarke awarded John €10,000 compensation for passenger whiplash injuries and the costs of bringing court action. The judge said that the fact John had suffered some level of soft tissue injuries as a result of the accident had not been contested.
Posted: November 29th, 2013
The Injuries Board of Ireland has released statistics revealing that assessments of compensation for car accident injuries amounted to €157.2 million in 2012.
According to figures released by the InjuriesBoard.ie, November is the most dangerous month of the year to venture out in a car, and the independent Government body has just released details of the awards it distributed in 2012 to highlight the fact.
The analysis of compensation claims for car accident injuries in 2012 also revealed that the total number of applications for assessments had increased by 1.3 percent to 7,622 and that the most dangerous day of the week on which to drive is Friday.
Claims for compensation for car accident injuries accounted for 75 percent of all the applications for assessment received by the Injuries Board (the remainder were comprised of public liability claims and for accidents at work), with the majority of these being for soft tissue injuries (whiplash) and broken bone injuries.
The statistics also showed that the average value of awards for car accident injuries in 2012 was €20,631, with women making a slightly larger number of claims than men. It was also shown that Donegal (11) and Cork (10) were the counties in which the highest number of fatal accidents due to somebody else´s negligence occurred.
However, the InjuriesBoard.ie press release included some assumptions that not everyone might agree with – for example; as only 4 percent of awards were made to drivers over the age of fifty-five, the Injuries Board described this age group as the “safest” – neglecting to consider research that has demonstrated that older drivers are four times more likely to cause a fatal crash than teenagers.
It might also be the case that older drivers do not accept the Injuries Board assessments as, in 2012, fewer than 5,000 plaintiffs actually agreed with the amount of compensation for car accident injuries that had been assessed (from 7,622 assessments) , and chose to pursue their claims outside of the Injuries Board process.
Commenting on the figures, Patricia Byron – CEO of the Injuries Board – said “Our award trends indicate that the winter months are the most dangerous on our roads and we are urging all road users to be extra vigilant at this time. We awarded over €157m in compensation for injuries sustained in road traffic accidents last year which reflects the significant human cost of these accidents not to mention the social impact.”
Posted: September 25th, 2013
A woman has won a two-year battle against the State of Texas and her own insurance company to recover compensation for being rear-ended and suffering whiplash injuries.
Brenda Nolen from Young County in Texas was hit from behind by a vehicle driven by a Texas Forest Service employee who had fallen asleep at the wheel when she was returning from a shopping trip in April 2011. The force with which her Dodge pick-up was hit, shoved it onto a garage forecourt, where it crashed into a petrol pump which exploded on impact.
Fortunately passers-by were able to rescue Brenda from her burning vehicle, but she sustained a broken arm, multiple burns and a serious neck injury in the accident which required her to undergo multiple operations over the course of the following year.
Brenda made a claim for being rear-ended against the Forest Service driver´s employers – the State of Texas – to cover to cost of a new vehicle and her medical expenses. However, the State of Texas rejected her claim on the basis that employees of the State Forest Service are immune from responsibility for any injuries or accidents that happen while they are en route to an emergency.
Her own insurance company – State Farm – also declined her claim for compensation for being rear-ended despite Brenda obtaining a statement from the Texas Forest Service employee who had hit her vehicle to confirm that he had fallen asleep at the wheel and was not on his way to an emergency.
Brenda sought legal advice and, with help from a solicitor and the threat of court action, a negotiated settlement was reached with Brenda´s insurers and the State of Texas that will see her recover an undisclosed amount compensation for being rear-ended – enough to purchase a new Dodge pick-up and cover the majority of her medical expenses.
Posted: September 3rd, 2013
Insurance companies have claimed that new limits on car accident compensation will lead to higher premiums following the introduction of the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill
The Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 – previously known as the Courts Bill – will increase the upper limits on car accident compensation that can be awarded in the District Court from €6,384 to €15,000, and in the Circuit Court from €38,000 to €60,000
On publication of the report in July, Justice Minister Alan Shatter said that the changes would lead to reduction in legal costs due to fewer car accident compensation claims going to the High Court; however two insurance experts have warned that the Bill could add as much as 30% to car insurance premiums.
Thousands More Cases in the Courts
According to Ciaran Phelan – CEO of the Irish Brokers Association – and Ken Norgrove from Zurich Insurance, the Seanad passed the legislation without considering the implications of insurance costs – which both claim will encourage more plaintiffs to “have a go” at taking their claims for car accident injury compensation to court, rather than settle their claim without legal action.
Mr Phelan said “These changes will see thousands more cases reach the courts this year, which obviously will increase the legal costs for insurers [and] which will in turn be passed onto consumers. There will be no getting around this”.
“Those amounts are too high”, agreed Mr Norgrove, who claimed that the new limits on car accident compensation will only encourage more claims and a return to the “compo culture” of previous years. “The Personal Injuries Board was great for straightforward and uncontested injuries but people will now take their chances in the District Court”.
A Smoke Screen for Insurer´s Own Troubles?
The latest attack on the new limits on car accident compensation settlements came a day after several insurance companies announced that insurance premiums were likely to rise due to an underwriting gap between the funds they receive in insurance premiums and what they have to pay to settle car accident injury compensation claims.
Whereas it is not unusual for car insurance companies to make an underwriting loss, they have normally been able to rely on investment income from funds they have on deposit. However, the return on investment has fallen in recent years while at the same time car insurance companies have been involved in fierce competition which has reduced their income from car insurance premiums.
Posted: October 12th, 2011
Represented by their father, three children have successfully claimed whiplash compensation for whiplash injuries they sustained when their mother’s car was rear-ended in an Accident in January 2007.
Circuit Court President Justice Matthew Deery heard how the children had received treatment for recurrent and protracted symptoms of their injuries from the family GP and a specialist consultant. In an action brought through the children´s father, Daniel and Thomas Hopkins were awarded €20,000 while their sister Rachael was awarded €16,000. The whiplash compensation awarded will be released to the victims from court funds when they reach 18 years of age.
Posted: May 14th, 2011
A woman who was seeking €410,000 in damages for loss of earnings arising from a whiplash injury has had her compensation claim dismissed due to misleading evidence.
Mr Justice John Quirke heard that Mary Farrell of Finglas South, County Dublin was involved in a car accident with a bus belonging to Dublin Bus on June 14th 2004 at the junction of North Circular Road and Dorset Street.
Despite Ms Farrell’s claims that she had sustained a serious whiplash injury Dublin Bus provided the court with videos of Ms. Farrell mowing the grass and emptying the grass box over a wall, repeatedly raising her arm in the process.
Evidence of a comfortable lifestyle, including expensive cars and foreign holidays was also provided which was inconsistent with Ms Farrell’s claims that she had suffered a substantial loss of earnings.
Under the provision of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 that allows for the dismissal of claims where a judge considers a claimant gave material misleading evidence to increase their compensation claim or in support of a false claim, the compensation claim was dismissed due to misleading evidence by Mr Justice Quirke.
Posted: August 1st, 2010
A 25-year-old woman has been awarded 4.35 million euro in compensation for a road accident at traffic lights after her car collided with another that had driven through a red light.
The victim suffered severe lower back injuries that make walking anything other than a short distance painful. Awarding the compensation in the High Court Mr Justice John Quirke criticised the fact that injury compensation law in Ireland only allowed lump sum payments rather than annual payments, the judge described it as a ‘lottery situation’.