Seven personal injury actions fall after assessor says 'cars never made contact'

Seven personal injury actions worth up to a total of €420,000 from a 'rear-ending' road traffic accident have been dismissed or withdrawn after a motor assessor told a court that the two cars involved never collided.

Seven personal injury actions fall after assessor says 'cars never made contact'

Seven personal injury actions worth up to a total of €420,000 from a 'rear-ending' road traffic accident have been dismissed or withdrawn after a motor assessor told a court that the two cars involved never collided.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Keys dismissed four personal injury actions and three more were withdrawn from the alleged road traffic accident between a Ford Focus and an Almera in the village of Inagh on March 13, 2014.

In dismissing the lead personal injury case by the driver of the Almera, Sarah Warren, (aged 22) of Ballycar, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare, Judge Gerald Keys said that he is not satisfied that the impact described by Ms Warren is consistent with the damage caused to the two cars.

At the outset, counsel for the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), Henry Downing SC, said that he was pleading a defence of fraud in Ms Warren’s case and this was only the fifth time in his 30-year long career that he made such a defence against a personal injury claim.

Mr Downing told the court: “This was a set-up.”

However, counsel for Ms Warren, Patrick Whyms BL, said after Judge Keys made his ruling: “No finding of fraud has been made and that is the beginning and the end of it.”

Judge Keys agreed saying: “I am not saying there is fraud.”

Three of Ms Warren’s passengers sued for personal injuries along with two she had never met before - they were friends of her then-boyfriend, Conor Nestor who was a front-seat passenger.

Judge Keys said: “I don’t want to be over-critical but Ms Warren is very naive to find herself in a situation like this where passengers were picked up in very, very suspicious circumstances and it so happened there was a crash.”

Mr Whyms said: “If there was a nefarious background to this it seems very unlikely that it involved the plaintiff.”

Mr Whyms said that a medical report on March 14, 2014, found that Ms Warren was injured on March 13th and that is uncontradicted evidence.

Expert motor assessor for the MIBI, Liam Cotter, told the court that it is impossible that the cars collided to cause the damage that occurred.

He said: “I don’t like using the word impossible but in this case it is appropriate as the damage to the two cars is so divergent.

“These two cars never made contact - never collided.”

Mr Cotter said that he has assessed thousands of cars from road traffic accidents, saying: “I have never come across a case where the damage was so divergent and so inconsistent. I actually formed the view that these cars never collided at all."

“They were damaged in two separate and very definite different incidents.”

Mr Cotter said that there was no paint transfer between the two cars before adding that it was likely that Ms Warren’s car reversed into a pole and the Ford Focus had damage consistent with a driver driving over a traffic island.

Mr Cotter said: “I accept there is a possibility that these cars made very light contact but not sufficient to put the damage on either car.”

A second motor assessor agreed with Mr Cotter's findings.

In her evidence, Ms Warren denied reversing her car into a pole and said: "I am here to tell the truth".

Ms Warren said that she was a trainee hairdresser with Peter Mark in Ennis at the time but had to give up hairdressing because of the soft tissue injuries to her back sustained in the rear-ending.

Ms Warren said that she currently works as a waitress in Jersey where she hopes to commence an apprenticeship to be a Trust Officer on the island.

Ms Warren said her car had been rear-ended as she was taking a left to Ruan on her way back from Lahinch on March 13, 2014.

Ms Warren told the court: “I was rattled and shocked that it had happened and when I woke up the next day I felt a bit stiffer than normally - I hadn't felt this pain before."

Five years after the accident, Ms Warren said:

“To be honest with you I still have the pain in shoulders and my back.”

Ms Warren agreed that she didn’t disclose to the MIBI a previous €2,500 injury award for whiplash she received from an October 2011 crash.

After Judge Keys dismissed Ms Warren’s lead personal injury case, three other personal injury actions from the same accident were withdrawn and Judge Keys dismissed a further three cases where the plaintiffs failed to show.

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