Motor assessor tells Ennis court the two cars never collided
Seven personal injury actions dismissed or withdrawn in rear-ending car accident
Judge Gerald Keys said he was not satisfied that the impact described by Sarah Warren was consistent with the damage caused to the two cars.
Seven personal injury actions worth up to a combined €420,000 from a “rear-ending” road traffic accident have been dismissed or withdrawn after a motor assessor told a court that the two cars involved never collided.
At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Keys dismissed four personal injury actions and three more were withdrawn from the alleged road traffic accident between a Ford Focus and an Almera in the village of Inagh on March 13th, 2014.
In dismissing the lead personal injury case by driver of the Almera, Sarah Warren (22) of Ballycar, Newmarket on Fergus, Co Clare, Judge Gerald Keys said he was not satisfied that the impact described by Ms Warren was consistent with the damage caused to the two cars.
At the outset, counsel for the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), Henry Downing SC, said he was pleading a defence of fraud in Ms Warren’s case and this was only the fifth time in his 30-year long career that he had made such a defence against a personal injury claim. Mr Downing told the court: “This was a set-up.”
However, counsel for Ms Warren, Patrick Whyms BL, said after Judge Keys made his ruling: “No finding of fraud has been made and that is the beginning and the end of it.”
Judge Keys agreed saying: “I am not saying there is fraud.”
Three of Ms Warren’s passengers sued for personal injuries, two of whom she had never met before; they were friends of her then boyfriend who was a front seat passenger.
Judge Keys said: “I don’t want to be over-critical but Ms Warren is very naive to find herself in a situation like this where passengers were picked up in very, very suspicious circumstances and it so happened there was a crash.”
Mr Whyms said: “If there was a nefarious background to this it seems very unlikely that it involved the plaintiff.”
Mr Whyms said a medical report on March 14th, 2014 found Ms Warren was injured on March 13th and that is uncontradicted evidence.
Expert motor assessor for the MIBI, Liam Cotter, told the court it was impossible that the cars collided to cause the damage that occurred. “I don’t like using the word impossible but in this case it is appropriate as the damage to the two cars is so divergent. These two cars never made contact – never collided,” he said.
Mr Cotter said he had assessed thousands of cars from road traffic accidents. “I have never come across a case where the damage was so divergent and so inconsistent. I actually formed the view that these cars never collided at all.
“They were damaged in two separate and very definite different incidents,” he said.
Ms Warren said she was a trainee hairdresser but had to give up hairdressing because of the soft tissue injuries to her back sustained in the rear-ending.
Ms Warren told the court that the day after the accident she “felt a bit stiffer than normally; I hadn’t felt this pain before”. Ms Warren agreed that she didn’t disclose to the MIBI a previous €2,500 injury award for whiplash from an October 2011 crash.
After Judge Keys dismissed Ms Warren’s lead personal injury case, three other actions from the same accident were withdrawn and Judge Keys dismissed a further three cases where the plaintiffs failed to show.