The Maria Bailey case and the media fire that surrounded it, has once again thrown a spotlight on the high levels of compensation payouts in Ireland and the sometimes spurious nature of some of the cases which come before the courts.
WHY ARE WE SEEING A RISE IN REPORTS OF CASES BEING DISMISSED?
The vast majority of cases for compensation are legitimate.
At the moment there is much publicity been given to cases which are being dismissed by the Courts. However, genuine cases of negligence causing injury which are statistically the overwhelming majority of all cases – are rarely reported in the media.
This gives a false impression of only fraudulent cases coming before the Courts.
Solicitors utterly condemn all fraudulent claims and as personal injuries cases are almost invariably brought by solicitors on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis, Solicitors have absolutely no economic incentive to carry the cost of bringing a case in whose merits they did not fully believe.
Laws against False and exaggerated cases?
Sections 25 and 26 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 (the “2004 Act”) were introduced by the Oireachtas as one of a number of measures to tackle what had become known as the ‘compensation culture’.
Section 26 of the 2004 Act further empowers the Court to dismiss proceedings if the Plaintiff has given false or misleading evidence with the intention of misleading the Court. A dismissal under this Section may also result in an order for Costs being made against the plaintiff. This would mean that the Plaintiff would be responsible for his or her own legal costs plus the Defendant’s legal costs.
The 2004 Act also introduced penalties for fraudulent and exaggerated claims. Section 25 of the 2004 Act makes it a criminal offence for a Plaintiff to knowingly invent accidents, feign injuries, or exaggerate elements of either. Fines of up to €100,000 and/or imprisonment of up to ten years can be imposed on those convicted by a criminal Court of a breach of this section.
DO MANY FALSE CLAIMS PROCEED TO A CRIMINAL PROSECUTION?
The past few months have seen the media report on some audacious personal injury actions which have been thrown out of Irish courts but with no follow-up criminal investigation.
The reasons for this are mixed. Personal-injury cases are heard in the civil courts with no automatic link to the criminal courts. Unless a garda was called to the scene of an alleged accident and made their notes available to the court, there will likely be no involvement of the force at all.
Cases can be referred to the gardaí for investigation but An Garda Síochána is not resourced, whether from a human or a financial point of view, to deal with insurance fraud.
How will the Maria Bailey Case affect those contemplating bringing a Personal injuries action?
The vast majority of personal injury claimants are honest and must not be deterred from bringing a claim for a legitimate injury caused by the negligence of another.
There now seems to be a growing tide against taking personal injury cases with the perception that it is now socially unacceptable to make a claim. This should never be the case.
For further advice or if you wish to discuss any other legal area please contact [email protected] or telephone 052-6124344.
The material contained in this blog is provided for general information purposes only and does not amount to legal or other professional advice. While every care has been taken in the preparation of the information, we advise you to seek specific advice from us about any legal decision or course of action.