Judge criticises insurance firms for settling claims and ‘blaming Government’

Four men who were sitting in a Toyota Avensis on the forecourt of a garage and sued for compensation when their car was jolted by a jeep that reversed into them had all their claims dismissed yesterday.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin looked at CCTV of the impact and said their stationary car did not move in the impact, so he said he did not know how all four, fit men were jolted and injured.

“I cannot see how these fit young men were jolted in any manner in the way they are alleging,” said the judge.

“From what I am seeing before me I cannot see how they were jolted to the degree and severity of the claims being made.”

While the judge dismissed all four claims yesterday, he criticised the insurance company that was being sued and said it only had itself to blame for encouraging the bringing of the claims.

He said they did so by settling the claim in relation to the damage to the car.

The garda who arrived at the scene described it as a “tiny dent”, but the insurance assessor said the car worth €1,800 would have cost more to repair so it was deemed a write-off.

Because the insurance company made this approach it had effectively encouraged the four plaintiffs to sue for injuries.

For that reason, the judge said that he was not making an award for costs against them on dismissal of the claims.

“What insurance companies do and why is inexplicable. More often than not they are in receivership or liquidation or blaming the Government for this, that or the other.

“What they do, nobody outside the organisation can understand. I cannot understand what they did paying for this car,” he said.

Four men in their 30s all sued for neck and back injuries arising out of a jeep reversing into the front bumper of the parked car they were sitting in at Apple Green, Classes Lake, Co Cork, on January 25, 2016.

Stephen Jordan of Castle Park, Ballincollig; Andrew Toole of Knocknagoul, Coachford; Michael Crowley of 26 Belmont Place, Crookstown; and Michael O’Connell of 32 Innishmore Grove, Ballincollig, were the four plaintiffs who said they were injured and went to their doctors for treatment afterwards.

James Duggan, defence barrister, said the Toyota Avensis was not moved by the slight impact from the reversing jeep. He said the defence could have been in difficulty but for the fact they had CCTV in court showing the slight impact.

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