A judge has upheld the settlement of seven car crash compensation claims and dismissed allegations by a car hire company that the crash was fabricated.
In June 2011, three passengers in a hired Ford Fiesta and four occupants of a Peugeot 406 were injured when the two cars were involved in a car crash on a roundabout in Lifford, County Donegal. The injured parties made car crash compensation claims against the driver of the Ford Fiesta and the car hire company from which the car had been rented – Ryans Investments NI Ltd, trading as Hertz Rent-a-Car
In 2015, the injured parties were awarded compensation of between €5,050 and €9,550 in settlement of their car crash compensation claims in Buncrana Circuit Court. However, the car hire company appealed the award – alleging the car crash had been fabricated and the injured parties had exaggerated their injuries. The appeal hearing was heard at the High Court in July before Mr Justice Charles Meenan.
At the appeal hearing, the court was told that the driver of the hired Ford Fiesta had been overheard calling the driver of the Peugeot 406 when he had returned the vehicle to Hertz´s office in Derry. The call apparently had been made to get the details of the Peugeot 406, but the friendly nature of the negligent driver´s salutation aroused the suspicions of the car hire company.
The court heard the injured parties and the negligent driver were known to each other through their association with the Joseph Plunkett and Charlie D’Arcy Societies, and it was this association that strengthened the car hire company´s suspicions of a set up. The injured parties acknowledged they knew each other, but called the allegations of fraudulently making car crash compensation claims outrageous.
Judge Meenan closed the appeal hearing by saying he would reserve judgement until October, but earlier than expected he announced his verdict this week – finding in favour of the injured parties and upholding the settlements of their car crash compensation claims. The judge said there was insufficient evidence to prove the accident had been set up or that the injured parties had exaggerated the extent of their injuries.