Month: October 2013

Settlement of Compensation for Injuries to a Foetus Approved in Court

A settlement of compensation for injuries to a foetus has been approved in court after a judge heard how a girl suffered respiratory distress syndrome at birth due her mother being involved in a car accident two days before she was born

Judge Matthew Deery at the Circuit Civil Court heard how Martina Sheehan from Rathfarnham in Dublin had been driving the family car along Templeroan Road on 13th April 1999, when she was in collision with a vehicle driven by Elaine O’Connor – also from Rathfarnham.

Although neither driver was hurt in the road traffic accident, the shock of the collision was allegedly responsible for Martina going into early onset labour at thirty-six weeks, and two days later delivering her daughter – Aoife – at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin.

The prematurely delivered Aoife immediately went into respiratory distress and was placed on a ventilator in the hospital´s neo-natal intensive care unit, where she remained critically ill for three weeks until she was able to breathe independently.

After seeking legal advice, Martina Sheehan made a claim for compensation for injuries to a foetus on behalf of her daughter; but insurers for Ms O´Connor denied their policyholder´s liability for Aoife´s injuries claiming that pre-term babies were more pre-disposed to respiratory distress and there was no medical evidence to support the claim that the accident was the cause of Aoife´s premature birth.

Furthermore, the insurers claimed, as Aoife had not yet been born she would be ineligible to receive compensation for injuries to a foetus. Nonetheless, solicitors representing Martina and Aoife pursued the claim and, after a lengthy period of negotiation, a settlement of compensation was agreed that would see Aoife receiving €17,800.

Approving the settlement of compensation for injuries to a foetus, Judge Deery said that Martina and Aoife´s solicitors had done a good job in securing a positive outcome as, in the circumstances, proving liability may have been difficult if the case had gone to trial.

Report Reveals 10 Percent Increase in Compensation Claims to the Injuries Board

Claims to the Injuries Board have increased by 10 percent in the first half of the year according to a report published on the government body´s website.

The analysis of claims to the Injuries Board from January to June 2013 show that the number of applications for the assessment of compensation received by the Injuries Board increased from 14,685 in the corresponding period in 2012 to 16,162 – a rise of just over 10 percent.

The number of assessments accepted by plaintiffs also increased from 5,180 to 5,286, but this represented a significant drop in the percentage of claims to the Injuries Board which were successfully resolved (37.2 percent > 32.7 percent) and indicates that fewer claims for personal injury compensation are being resolved through the Injuries Board process.

The total value of accepted assessments and the average value of each assessment also increased (by 8 percent and 4 percent respectively); however CEO of the Injuries Board in Ireland – Patricia Byron – explained that this was due to a small number of exceptional claims to the Injuries Board – one of which resulted in the highest ever accepted Injuries Board assessment of €976,000.

Once again, claims for injuries sustained in road traffic accidents accounted for the highest proportion of claims to the Injuries Board (75.5 percent), while there was an ongoing reduction in claims for injuries at work (8.1 percent). The remainder of the requests for an assessment of injury compensation were made in respect of public liability claims – injuries sustained in places of public access and product liability claims.

Discussing the increased volume of claims to the Injuries Board and the higher level of injury compensation settlements, Ms Byron warned insurance companies not to use the Injuries Board statistics as an excuse to raise insurance premiums. She said “Given a reduction of 30 percent in the Boards processing fee to respondents [down from €850.00 to €600.00], we see no basis for insurance premium hikes at this time”.

Potential plaintiffs should that while it may still be quicker to resolve a claim for personal injury compensation through direct contact with the negligent party´s insurers, making a claim to the Injuries Board is still necessary (except in claims for medical negligence and professional negligence) in case your claim cannot be resolved by negotiation and requires court action.