Tuesday, 6 Dec 2022

'He jumped out of the car to stop witness taking photographs' – Elderly man forced to defend €75k injuries claim

A 75-year-old man has told how the driver of a car he rear-ended jumped out of the vehicle to stop a witness taking photographs, but later demanded to be removed from his car on a spinal board.

The accident happened in August 2013 after the driver mysteriously slammed on the brakes of his car coming up to a roundabout in Co Limerick, despite nothing being in front of the vehicle.

He then brought a personal injuries claim worth €75,000.

The man forced to defend the claim for the last five years, who wishes to remain anonymous, travelled to the High Court last week.

The plaintiff tried to settle for damages but Aviva, which was the defendant’s insurers, refused as it argued the claim was exaggerated due to the minimal contact made between the cars.

After five years of toing and froing, the plaintiff withdrew his case.

The defendant said he’s mostly annoyed about the “time wasting” involved and the racking up of legal fees of “at least €40,000”.

His wife is in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and he described the incident as “wholly inconvenient”.

“I knew all along I was in the right and I’m amazed at how this man managed to turn a fender bender into a two-day High Court case,” he told Independent.ie.

“He took up court time, police time, the lawyers and insurers’ time and he took up my time. I had to pay for a hotel to stay in for the court date aswell.

“It was a summer’s day when it happened and I was driving around a roundabout and his car was stopped at the exit to the left of me. As I indicated, this guy drives out in front of me and I had to slam on my brakes very hard to stop.

“Out of annoyance, I beeped my horn and he stuck his hand out the window and gave me the two finger salute.

“We continued along the road when all of a sudden he brakes out of nowhere. I was in third gear at the time and swerved to the right to try and avoid him but hit his bumper… a friend of mine happened to be in the area at the time and went to take photographs but the other guy was trying to obstruct him.”

Aviva launched a full investigation and was satisfied it was highly unlikely any injuries could have been sustained.

“It’s not an issue because there was a claim against me. I was willing to pay for the damage caused. At the end of the day my insurance doubled and I was told that if they didn’t have to pay out, that would all be reinstated,” he said.

“The issue is that this guy exaggerated a claim and caused me to damage my car. That car was one of the loves of my life, it was my toy. I had it for years. I don’t drive anymore, not because of the accident, but it’s not worth the hassle and I have the free travel now.

“It’s just annoying like, I had been driving since I was 18 and in 52 years I’d never had one claim. I just wish we had tougher sanctions for time wasters like this.”

Rob Smyth, Head of Fraud with Aviva, said the company is fully committed to defending spurious claims.

“As part of our zero tolerance strategy, last minute approaches by a plaintiff to settle these claims for so called small money and legal costs will not be entertained. We will continue to allow the courts to decide on the final outcome.

“In this incident the offending motorist was taken to hospital on a spinal board where minutes earlier he had been walking without any apparent difficulty. Incidents like this, not only impact on the on the A&E services but ultimately also waste the valuable time of the gardaí and courts.”

  • Read more: Injury claims dismissed as garda says damage in photographs ‘not the damage I saw at scene’ 
  • Read more: Pictured: Man who had €60k claim thrown out says ‘Oh, I see you’ve been looking at my Facebook’

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