‘Accident prone’ man faces legal bill over ‘opportunistic’ claim

Thomas Moore’s injuries action over traffic incident at best an ‘exaggerated’ one, judge says

A High Court judge said there was ‘most minor’ contact between Thomas Moore and Mary Carroll’s vehicles and  the damage was no more than ‘scuff marks’. File image: iStock.

A High Court judge said there was ‘most minor’ contact between Thomas Moore and Mary Carroll’s vehicles and the damage was no more than ‘scuff marks’. File image: iStock.

 

An “accident prone” man faces a substantial legal costs bill after losing an action for damages against a woman over what he claimed was a traffic accident.

High Court judge Mr Justice Michael Twomey said “one would be hard pressed” to describe the 2013 incident involving Thomas Moore and Mary Carroll as an accident.

He said there was “most minor” contact between their vehicles and that the damage was no more than “scuff marks” on the bumper of Mr Moore’s van. It was “highly improbable” that Mr Moore suffered any personal injuries as a result of the incident, the judge found.

The court heard Mr Moore has a history of left hip pain going back to 2004 and appeared “somewhat accident prone”, having advanced at least five claims to date relating to both workplace and car accidents, several of which were for back injuries and resulted in damages of €87,000.

After Mr Moore lost his claim for €60,000 damages in the Circuit Court, the maximum sum permissible there, he appealed to the High Court.

‘Exaggerated’

In his judgment, Mr Justice Twomey said he had “no hesitation” in dismissing the case and awarding 100 per cent of the costs in both courts against Mr Moore. He expressed regret that Ms Carroll had to attend court twice to face “at best an exaggerated claim for personal injuries”, and at worst, “an opportunistic attempt to manufacture a personal injury claim against an innocent motorist”.

If Mr Moore continues to be “accident prone” in his workplace and car, it was relevant to note the Circuit and High courts had dismissed this claim on the grounds “he was not credible”, he added.

The judge also referred to a recent Court of Appeal judgment urging the courts to exercise “caution” dealing with expert evidence provided, particularly where the expert may have relied on what they were told by the party involved.

In this case, a consultant in 2014 essentially said, on the balance of probability, Mr Moore’s left hip pain was caused by the accident despite the consultant having just weeks earlier received a letter from Mr Moore’s GP stating he was “experiencing chronic left hip pain going back as far as 2004”.

Expert evidence

While it was possible the consultant may have relied on what he was told by Mr Moore, it illustrated the importance of the need for caution in the court’s treatment of expert evidence, he said.

Mr Moore (43), Dun a Rí, Tinryland, Co Carlow, who runs a mobile confectionery business, sued Ms Carroll, a pensioner, of Tullow, Co Carlow, over the accident at Pollerton Road, Co Carlow, on November 12th 2013.

He claimed Ms Carroll pulled out of a side road onto a main road on which he was driving, causing him to brake suddenly and come into contact with her car.

Mr Moore argued that this resulted in injuries. However, the judge said a “more accurate” description might be that his car came to a stop right next to, but touching Ms Carroll’s car leaving scuff marks on the bumper.

It was put to Mr Moore that it was “somewhat concerning” that after this “most minor” contact, he jumped out of his car and shouted at Ms Carroll not to move and he was calling the gardaí­. Mr Moore had not denied that had happened but claimed he could not remember if he did it after the “shock of the accident”.