Case Report – Personal Injury award

A recent case in the High Court set a level of damages for a car accident at €60,000 for pain and suffering and a further €30,000 for future pain and suffering. This struck me as quite high for a whiplash-type injury where there were no fractures or internal injuries. But after looking through the case it was clear that the extent of the claimants back injury was what increased the damages – it was an injury that was permanent.

The case was Martin Lavin -v-Darren Quirke and Global Rail Services Limited [2010 No 4500P] and the decision was delivered in June 1012. As I said, I initially thought the award was very high for someone who had suffered a sore neck and back but had not suffered any fractures of internal injuries. He had largely recovered from the injuries but the Judge took into account the extent of the back injury which hadn’t resolved itself. It has affected Mr Lavin’s work with cars where he dismantles them and sells on the parts. The Consultant Surgeon noted that the soft tissue injury would persist in the long term but he would never be able to return to heavy lifting which was an important part of his work.

Because of these considerations it appears that the Judge thought that damages of €60,000 and €30,000 for future pain and suffering were allowable. The Judge also awarded different sums for loss of income and a future loss of income – this is different in every case depending on the employment of a person who suffers the injury.

It is one of the most difficult things to advise a client on – the level of damages for an injury. It is useful to have cases such as Lavin -v- Quirke as it gives an indication on the likely damages to be awarded in the High Court. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) provide a Book of Quantum which gives very broad outlines on the level of damages, however, it is the general rule of thumb that the Courts will often award much higher damages than would be assessed by PIAB. It is still a minefield to try and advise your client on the likely amounts they will receive but the Book of Quantum and case law do provide some guidelines.

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