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Newspaper Publishes Report on Personal Injury Compensation Claims Made Against Galway City Council

The Galway City Tribune has recently published a report on the city council’s expenditure on compensation claims made against them. The reporters revealed that the city has paid over €4 million in personal injury claim compensation since the beginning of 2015. This is a significant sum for a city council to be spending on personal injury claims. This figure includes insurance covers public areas, as well as paying the excess on all claims that are made against them. The figures were obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the newspaper. The breakdown shows that the cost of public liability insurance for Galway City Council was  €3.4 million over the same time period. The yearly figures were also included, which gives the expenditure as follows; €1.5 million in 2014, €1.4 million in 2015 and just less than €500,000 in 2016. Galway City Council also had to pay for the excess on personal injury claims in addition to the public liability insurance. The yearly figures for this excess were also given; they amounted to €142,000 in 2016; €242,000 in 2015; and €205,000 in 2014. Alongside the figures themselves, the reasons for the claims made against Galway City Council were also given. The newspaper reported that the largest proportion of the personal injury compensation claims are for injuries suffered in falls on the streets of the city. The number of cobbled streets in central Galway were deemed responsible for large quantity of claims of this type. Galway City Council announced in August 2017 that the paving and cobbles on the Shop Street thoroughfare are to be replaced with smooth pavement to reduce the number of people falling over and hurting themselves in this area. Galway City Council Representative said, at the time, that plans were in place to solve the uneven paving on the street which has been the subject of many compensation claims. In March 2017, a similar report was compiled about compensation claims made against Dublin’s local authorities. The report highlighted the fact that more than €63 million was paid out in personal injury compensation by Dublin’s four local authorities in just five years. Dublin City Council paid out the most – totaling €41,322,784.12 to 3,853 claimants from 2012 until 2016. At the time of the report a South Dublin County Council  spokeswoman said: “The majority of cases in relation to public liability cases are trips, slips and falls on footpaths/roads, or in public parks. A small number of claims are in regard to damage to property, i.e. car tyres.”

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Child Emotional Injury due to Car Accident Compensation Approved in Court

Two sisters, were not physically injured in a rear-end car accident, have had their emotional injury compensation settlement approved at the Circuit Court. On 11th February 2016, the two sisters – aged six years and four years at the time of the accident – were travelling in the back seat of the family car being driven by their parents. Suddenly, it was rear-ended on the Newcastle Road in Lucan, Dublin. The  other driver admitted liability for causing the accident. The day after the accident, the two girls were brought to their family’s GP to be examined. Neither girl was diagnosed with physical injuries from the incident. However, within a few days of the accident occurring, the elder sister complained of having a persistent headache. Both sisters started showing symptoms of panic when large vehicles passed the car, fearful that a repeat incident would occur. Concerned, their parents brought them to seek medical advice. A further review of their condition resulted in both girls being diagnosed with “a mild effect on the mental health”. The elder sister was particularly affected by the accident, experiencing worry, and panic around large vehicles. She also hyperventilated while travelling in the family car, especially close to where the accident had occurred. Through their mother, they made an emotional injury compensation claim against the driver of the negligent vehicle. On the advice of the family’s solicitor, they accepted an offer of settlement amounting to €33,000. As the claim had been made on behalf of plaintiffs unable to represent themselves, the emotional injury compensation settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure that it was in their best interests. The case was heard at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke. The court was told the circumstances of the accident, the nature of the girls´ injuries and the fact that they had only missed one day from school as a result of the accident in order to be examined by the family GP. The judge also heard the girls´ mother was satisfied with the amount offered. Te judge was told that the emotional injury compensation settlement was to be divided equally between the sisters. Approving the settlement, Judge Groarke ordered that it be paid into court funds until the girls reach they reached eighteen years of age.

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Health Minister Commits to Open Disclosure in Medical Negligence Cases

Health Minister Simon Harris has said he is going to introduce legislation to enforce the HSE´s guidelines for open disclosure in medical negligence cases. In November 2013, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and State Claims Agency launched a nationwide program of open disclosure in medical negligence cases to support an “open, timely and consistent approach to communicating when things go wrong in healthcare”. Although guidelines were published to support the policy of open disclosure in medical negligence cases, critics have claimed that the policy has not been consistently applied, and that a legal duty of candour in Ireland is required to overcome the “culture” of keeping quiet when mistakes are made. In response to those critics, Health Minister Simon Harris has committed to introduce legislation to enforce the HSE´s guidelines as part of a series of measures intended to improve patient safety in Ireland. Mr Harris was speaking at the State Claims Agency´s first annual “Quality, Patient Safety & Clinical Risk Conference” at Dublin Castle when he announced a “program of significant patient safety measures” that would be overseen by a new National Patient Safety Office. According to Mr Harris, the new department will be responsible for: Establishing and supporting a nationwide patient advocacy service. Implementing a patient safety surveillance system. Setting up a national advisory council for patient safety. Working in conjunction with the Department of Justice and Equality, the National Patient Safety Office will also be responsible for accelerating the Health Information and Patient Safety Bill – a bill creating a national healthcare database to improve the provision and management of healthcare services throughout Ireland. Due to the bill containing measures to protect patients´ private healthcare information, the proposals are unlikely to be enacted until after the European Union has issued revised data protection standards. However, the fact that Mr Harris has acknowledged the importance of open disclosure in medical negligence cases will please many patient healthcare advocates who believe former Health Minister Leo Varadkar sidestepped the opportunity to introduce appropriate legislation in the Civil Liberty (Amendment) Bill 2015.

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UN: Ireland´s Ban on Abortions for Fatal Foetal Abnormalities “Inhuman and Degrading”

Ireland´s ban on abortions for fatal foetal abnormalities has been described as “inhuman and degrading” by the United Nations´ Human Rights Committee. According to Article 40.3.3º of the Constitution and the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, the right to life of an unborn foetus is protected unless the mother´s health is at risk. The ban on abortions for fatal foetal abnormalities means that mothers carrying unborn children with no hope of survival after birth have to leave Ireland to have a termination. One such mother was Amanda Mellet. Amanda was given the devastating news in November 2011 that her unborn child would die in the womb or shortly after birth due to a fatal foetal anomaly. Amanda travelled alone to the UK to have a termination and – due to limited funds – had to return to Ireland just twelve hours after undergoing the procedure. Unlike cases in which women suffer miscarriages, Amanda did not receive any post-operative medical care in Ireland or bereavement counselling – a situation that was aggravated when the ashes of her unborn child were delivered to her by courier three weeks later. Amanda also felt stigmatised by having circumnavigated Ireland´s ban on abortions for fatal foetal abnormalities. Amanda co-founded the organization “Termination for Medical Reasons” in order to campaign for a change to the ban on abortions for fatal foetal abnormalities. She also contacted the European branch of the Centre for Reproductive Rights – who filed a complaint on Amanda´s behalf with the United Nations´ Human Rights Committee. Earlier this week, the Committee upheld the complaint and described Ireland´s ban on abortions for fatal foetal abnormalities as “inhuman and degrading”. The Committee said that the ban discriminated against Amanda and jeopardised her well-being by subjecting her to unnecessary financial and emotional suffering. The Human Rights Committee reported: “The State party should amend its law on voluntary termination of pregnancy, including if necessary its Constitution, to ensure compliance with the Covenant, including effective, timely and accessible procedures for pregnancy termination in Ireland, and take measures to ensure that healthcare providers are in a position to supply full information on safe abortion services without fearing being subjected to criminal sanctions.” In addition to telling the Government to reverse the ban on abortions for fatal foetal abnormalities, the Committee said that the state should compensate Amanda for failing to take her medical needs and socio-economic circumstances into account. The Committee commented that many of the negative events Amanda had experienced could have been avoided if she had had been allowed to terminate the pregnancy “in the familiar environment of her own country and under the care of health professionals whom she knew and trusted.”

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AIB Announces Compensation for Tracker Mortgage Customers

AIB has announced it has set aside €105 million to pay compensation for tracker mortgage customers wrongfully put on variable interest rate accounts. After years of denying that it was liable to pay compensation for tracker mortgage customers, AIB has made a €105 million provision in its 2014 Annual Report to pay redress to more than 3,000 mortgage holders. A further €85 million has been set aside for “other related matters” as part of a tracker mortgage review. Three hundred AIB staff have already started the task of identifying which customers will be eligible for compensation. The bank has said that these customers will be given the option of converting their existing variable interest rate accounts to those tracking the interest rates set by the European Central Bank – potentially saving each household up to €12,500 per year. The announcement of compensation for tracker mortgages comes as a major surprise. Just weeks ago AIB denied it had wrongly refused to restore tracker mortgages to property owners after their initial fixed rate mortgage term had expired. The bank removed tracker mortgages as an option in 2008 and converted many customers onto variable interest rate accounts which, at the time, were the most expensive in the Eurozone. Last October the Central Bank launched an industry-wide review of the wrongful removal of valuable tracker mortgages after pressure from consumer groups and following an announcement from Permanent TSB that it was to pay compensation for tracker mortgage customers. The Permanent TSB paid compensation or reduced mortgage arrears in 1,372 cases. According to the figures released by AIB, the average amount of compensation for tracker mortgage customers should be in the region of €65,000. However, as the calculations of compensation for tracker mortgage customers are being made by AIB, customers are advised to seek professional legal advice to ensure they receive appropriate redress. Talk with our specialist tracker mortgage redress team on 1-800 844 303 for advice on how you can properly engage with AIB and receive your correct settlement of compensation for tracker mortgage customers.

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IMHO Encourages Customers to make AIB Tracker Mortgage Claims

The IMHO has written to 4,200 customers of AIB, encouraging them to “come forward” if they believe they are entitled to make AIB tracker mortgage claims. In the letter to AIB customers last week, David Hall – the chief executive of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organization – wrote that customers should have been offered tracker mortgages when their fixed rate mortgage agreements expired in a scenario similar to that which occurred at the Permanent TSB. Mr Hall said that customers who believe they were “denied their contractual right” to a tracker mortgage should “come forward” and make AIB tracker mortgage claims in order to recover their overpayments and ensure they were on the best possible deal going forward. Although the bank denies that customers are entitled to make AIB tracker mortgage claims, Mr Hall says that three AIB mortgage holders have received offers of compensation from the bank after having their cases investigated. He told the Irish Times: “Indeed, we are aware of a number of cases within AIB where customers have been returned to their tracker rate, along with a refund of overcharged interest, having been denied the rate for a number of years”. Who is Entitled to Make AIB Tracker Mortgage Claims? Prior to 2008, AIB gave customers three options for when their fixed rate mortgage agreements expired. The choice was: Either extend the fixed rate mortgage agreement, Convert to a variable interest rate mortgage, or Convert to a mortgage on a tracker interest rate. Customers who failed to express a preference – or who were not told about the choice of options available to them – were automatically converted to a variable interest rate mortgage. In 2008, AIB scrapped the tracker interest rate option, as it was losing money for the bank. Customers who were denied – or not informed about – the tracker rate option ended up paying one of the most expensive mortgage interest rates in the Eurozone, costing some families up to €12,500 per year in extra mortgage repayments. Consumer groups have criticized AIB for a lack of commitment to its customers, and now the IMHO is encouraging mortgage holders to make AIB tracker mortgage claims. UPDATE March 2016. The AIB´s 2015 Annual Report revealed that the bank had made a €105 million provision relating to the Central Bank of Ireland’s sector-wide redress programme for tracker mortgage customers. More than 3,000 customers will be eligible to make AIB tracker mortgage claims, with the average compensation-per-house-hold estimated to be €65,000. You can read more about this development > here < or call our specialist tracker mortgage redress team on 1-800 844 303 for advice on how to make AIB tracker mortgage claims.

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Welfare Benefits to be Deducted from Compensation Settlements in Ireland

New laws are being applied from tomorrow (1st August) that will see certain welfare benefits deducted from compensation settlements in Ireland. The Department of Social Protection´s “Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme” comes into force tomorrow following the passage of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act last year. The scheme replaces the current practice of deducting welfare benefits from calculated loss of earnings and operates in a similar way to the Compensation Recovery Unit in the UK. From 1st August a compensator – usually the insurance company of the negligent party – will be required to apply for a statement of recoverable benefits from the Department of Social Protection and will then reimburse the Department for benefits that the plaintiff has received over the previous five years that are directly related to the injury or accident for which their claim was made. Copies of the statement will also be sent to the plaintiff´s solicitor (and the Injuries Board where applicable) detailing deductions to be made from compensation settlements in Ireland for receipt of the following welfare benefits: Injury Benefit Illness Benefit Partial Capacity Benefit Incapacity Supplement Disability Allowance Invalidity Pension The deduction of welfare payments from compensation settlements in Ireland is not the responsibility of the plaintiff, nor does the receipt of welfare benefits exclude a plaintiff from claiming injury compensation due to somebody else´s negligence. The only likely noticeable difference for plaintiffs is that the payment of compensation settlements in Ireland will take longer to process (up to four weeks). An appeals procedure exists if a plaintiff contests the amount of welfare payments being recovered, and it is important that plaintiffs examine their copy of the benefits statement to ensure that it is accurate, and that deductions made from compensation settlements are relevant only to the welfare benefits they have received in respect of their injury. In the event that plaintiffs are unsure about the assessment of their injury compensation claim – and the welfare payments deducted from it – it is recommended that professional legal advice be sought from a solicitor.

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Emotional Trauma Compensation Offered to Survivors of San Francisco Air Crash

The 288 survivors of Asiana Flight 214, which crashed while landing at San Francisco last month, have each been offered $10,000 emotional trauma compensation by the airline. The crash on July 6th happened when a Boeing 777 on route from Seoul in South Korea hit a seawall while making its final approach into San Francisco International Airport. Two passengers died in the crash and a third passenger also died when she was tragically run over by a fire truck coming to extinguish the fire which broke out in the plane after the crash. 181 passengers were taken to hospital after the accident – where 49 still remain in serious condition – and despite the US National Transportation Safety Board having yet to conclude their report into how the crash happened, Asiana Airlines have already offered each of the 288 survivors initial emotional trauma compensation of $10,000. The offer of emotional trauma compensation is non-conditional and will be paid irrespective of whether a passenger suffered a physical injury or not in the crash or not. In accordance with the Montreal Convention, passengers accepting the initial compensation offer will still be eligible for further payments for both their physical injuries and psychological injuries from the airline However, how much compensation for an air crash each passenger receives will be subject to their nationality, where they were travelling from and whether their flight was one-way or the second leg of a return trip, as higher levels of air crash compensation apply to US citizens who bring legal action in the United States than European or Asian citizens who may have been travelling on vacation. It may also be the case that Asiana Airline´s offer of compensation for an emotional trauma is premature, as the psychological injuries sustained by each of the passengers may not be known for many months.

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€3m Awarded to Galway Car Crash Victim

An award of €3m has been approved for Rhona Murphy of Newcastle, County Galway, for brain damage follow a car crash on February 7, 1999. The High Court heard that Ms Murphy suffered profound head injuries and was lucky to have survived the accident. Rhona Murphy was a 20-year-old student at the time of the accident, hoping to pursue a career as a teacher. The car crash happened on the Galway to Headford Road in County Galway. Ms Murphy was the passenger in a car and sued the driver for negligence. It was claimed in court that the driver was driving at an excessive speed which, overtook on the inside lane when it was unsafe and dangerous to do so and was thereby driving in a reckless, dangerous or careless manner. While approving the settlement, Ms Justice Mary Irvine noted that there was a question of contributory negligence because Ms Murphy may not have been wearing a seatbelt and was aware that the driver of the car had consumed alcohol.

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€100,000 Awarded to Family of Mother and Daughter Killed in Road Accident

The family of a mother and child who were killed in a car accident in 2006 have been granted compensation of more than €100,000. Yvonne Mahony (24) and Bobb-Ann (2) were killed after a car struck the one in which they were travelling in at Lodge Cross, County Galway in July 2006. The claim for compensation was taken against Galway County Council by Yvonne’s mother Mary, who she said failed to maintain clear vision at the junction by not pruning or cutting down trees which obstructed drivers’ views. She also claimed that they failed to erect appropriate yield and stop signs.

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Rathgar Resident Awarded €48,000 for Injuries Caused by Botched Bicycle Repair Job

A man from Rathgar, Co Dublin has been awarded €48,000 in damages after being thrown of the handlebars of his bicycle and suffering injuries sustained because of a botched bicycle repair job. Piotr Lizanowicz, who had left his bicycle in to be repaired in Holligsworth Cycles Limited, Templeogue Village, fractured his elbow during the accident, which happended as he cycled down Terenure Road. Piotr had left his bicycle with Hollingsworth Cycles Limited to have is brakes and spokes repaired at a cost of €54. It was claimed however, that when the bicycle’s tyre was re-inflated after the accident, no precautions were taken to ensure that the tyre and inner tubing were placed correctly. Hollingsworth Cycles Limited denied the allegations, claiming that Piotr had fabricated the story in order to extract money from the business.

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