A recent High Court decision has illustrated that personal injury claims for minor road traffic collisions will not simply be accepted at face value.
Mary Carroll, an elderly driver, collided with a van driven by Thomas Moore on 12 November 2013 at the Pollerton Road in Carlow.
Mr. Moore alleged that he sustained injuries to his hip and back when he had to brake suddenly, causing tables and crates in the back of his van to come crashing forward into the driver seat.
He had five previous personal injury claims and was described by Twomey J as “accident prone”. These previous claims had netted him €85,000 in compensation and he claimed that his previous injuries had been exacerbated as a result of the latest collision.
Twomey J was of the opinion that the impact was of the most minor nature and the Court held that it was quite improbable that Moore had suffered the alleged injuries by reason of flying crates and tables. In fact, the Court concluded that the contact between the two vehicles amounted to “no more than scuff marks on Mr. Moore’s bumper.”
Twomey J did not accept the Plaintiff’s assertion that details of his claim history were not relevant. He took the view that these matters were central to the Plaintiff’s credibility.
Twomey J followed the recent decision in Byrne v Ardenheath Company Ltd ( IECA) in which the Court of Appeal held that caution needs to be exercised by a Court in relying on experts that have been retained by one of the parties to litigation, particularly where the experts’ opinion is based only on information provided by the Plaintiff.
Looking at the Plaintiff’s medical report, Twomey J concluded that in this instance the doctor had based his conclusions “on the evidence which was provided to him by his patient” and that the Plaintiff may not have mentioned any pre-existing problems.
On the balance of probabilities, the Court did not accept that Moore suffered any personal injuries from the contact between the two cars.
The judge expressed his regret that the elderly Defendant had to attend court on at least two occasions to face what he described as “at best an exaggerated claim and at worst an opportunistic attempt to manufacture a personal injury claim against an innocent motorist.”
Mr. Moore’s claim was dismissed and the Defendant was awarded 100% of the costs of both the Circuit Court and High Court actions.
A copy of the decision can be found here.