Few would argue that a person actually injured because of someone's carelessness should not be compensated. It’s a principle that exists in most legal systems.
In this jurisdiction, the principles are very well advanced. And a significant portion of court time, rightly or wrongly, is devoted to the resolution of personal injury claims.
Anyone who has been to a country where those principles are not so advanced would have difficulty arguing that they are unnecessary. I've experienced lunatic taxi drivers in Istanbul (where seatbelts are not required) and I have seen the appalling working conditions on building sites in some developing (and developed) countries. Protective legislation is required and where it is not enacted people suffer.
But of course many believe that Ireland's legal system operates at the other end of the extreme where it seems that extraordinary payouts can be made for what many would consider are very minor injuries comparatively.
In addition, it seems that wild and exaggerated claims are brought before the courts regularly. It can be very difficult to tell the difference between a claim that is merely exaggerated and one that is entirely fabricated.
There is also simply an acceptance of the racket and fabricated claims are an accepted way earning extra income for many in our community.
An entire subsection of this country's legal profession is devoted to prosecuting and defending personal injuries actions. One would imagine, therefore, that the principles both at common law and under statute would be well understood.
So this article begs the question: how is it possible that a claim could be withdrawn only after the plaintiff had given his evidence, as in this case, where that evidence it appears was effectively contradicted by subsequent video evidence?
By the time that the evidence came to be given in court the vast bulk of costs was already incurred. The costs were incurred during the exchange of pleadings, discovery and reports. So how was it that this video which effectively ended a trial on its presentation could not have prevented the trial in the first place?
Unfortunately, the adversarial system that we use, which is lengthy and costly, is structured in such a way that the evidence which will determine the case does not present itself until very late in the proceedings. (That said I do not understand the circumstances in which a legal team could it seems be ambushed at trial with such devastating evidence). This system, when it is not abused, can work well and gives all parties the best chance of justice.
There are provisions which enable the defendant, or indeed a plaintiff to strike out the other side's claim or defence, or part of either, if it is deemed to be frivolous, vexatious or bound to fail. In addition the legislation requires the court to dismiss the personal injuries claim where the plaintiff knowingly gives evidence that is either false or misleading unless it would otherwise be unjust to do so. It seems they are not used often enough.
There is a lethargy about defending spurious actions particularly when they are taken against public bodies with deep pockets (our pockets). By way of example, I was recently on a bus which drove into the back of a taxi. The collision was so minor that the passengers on the bus barely felt it. But the taxi driver, when he eventually struggled out his car, (which was undamaged) put on a show that was simply embarrassing. He was setting up his claim.
Later that day I contacted the Dublin Bus Legal Department to offer myself as witness to the incident. That was three months ago. I've heard nothing from them. Perhaps their files are so good that when the claim is received they will contact me. Or maybe claims and payouts are just part and parcel of doing business at Dublin Bus. We'll wait and see.
Leman aggressively defends personal injury claims for insurers and the self-insured. Not because people don't get injured and not because people don't deserve compensation. It's because so many people are not injured and don't deserve compensation and it's unacceptable that they can profit at our expense.
A builder who was filmed picking up blocks and using a shovel after he had claimed he was unable to return to physical work following a road traffic accident has withdrawn his High Court action for damages over the incident.