A recent High Court case demonstrates how difficult it can be to prove that a suspicious accident is actually a “set up”.
The accident in question took place at a roundabout near Lifford in Donegal late at night and involved 2 cars, one of which was a hire car. There were 7 occupants between the 2 cars, each of whom brought a separate claim for personal injuries.
Hertz alleged that the accident had been a “set-up” on the basis that:
Hertz also alleged that each of the Plaintiffs’ had exaggerated the extent of their injuries.
Judge Meenan in the High Court held that the evidence put forward by Hertz was insufficient to establish that the collision was a “set up”. While he accepted that the plaintiffs had been ‘less than forthright’ about their prior knowledge of each other, he found that the evidence put before the Court did not convince him, on the balance of probabilities, that the collision was, in fact, a “set up”.
He accepted that there may have been a conversation between one of the plaintiffs and the driver of the hire car following the accident which may have appeared “jovial”, but the purpose of that conversation was to swap insurance details and nothing could be inferred from this.
Judge Meenan considered that it would be a stretch for the Court to infer anything from two cars being on the same roundabout at the same time and the periods of unexplained time pre-accident.
Judge Meenan rejected the contention that the injuries had been exaggerated by each of the 7 Plaintiffs. He held that the plaintiffs had been upfront about their recovery times and had not claimed for any ongoing injuries, nor had they claimed for medical expenses or loss of earnings. Finally, he noted that notwithstanding the concerns about the circumstances of the accident, all of the medical reports obtained by Hertz essentially agreed with the medical reports provided by the Plaintiffs.
Each Plaintiff was awarded varying amounts between €6,000 and €9,500.
Interestingly, the Court did not address nor does it seem it was requested to award exemplary damages to each of the Plaintiffs for the manner in which Hertz defended each of the claims.
A full copy of the Judgment can be found here.
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