Judge questions man’s credibility as €60,000 crash claim dismissed

Court told of inconsistencies in case of Patrick Ward, who told GP he was ‘ok’ two weeks after accident

A High Court judge has dismissed a man’s claim for €60,000 damages over injuries allegedly suffered in a crash. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

A High Court judge has dismissed a man’s claim for €60,000 damages over injuries allegedly suffered in a crash. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

A High Court judge has dismissed a man’s claim for €60,000 damages over injuries allegedly suffered when he was a passenger in a car that ended up in a ditch on a rural road in Co Offaly.

In light of the documentary evidence contradicting Patrick Ward’s version of events, including how the car ended up in the ditch, Mr Justice Michael Twomey was not satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that he was a credible witness “regarding anything that allegedly happened” on the night.

He could not be satisfied whether Mr Ward was in the front or back seat, asleep or awake, whether the car slipped coming around a bend or on the straight, whether it slipped on snow or the road conditions were ok, whether it drove into a ditch as a result of an oncoming car or went straight into the ditch with no other cars in the vicinIty, how the car ended up in the ditch “or indeed any detail of the claim as alleged by Mr Ward”.

Mr Ward, of Kilcruttin, Tullamore, had sued Michael Ward, the driver of the car, who comes from the same address, over the accident on a road between Shannobridge and Cloghan at 1am on Febuary 16th, 2016. He also sued the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland and Liberty Insurance DAC.

Threadbare

Before the hearing, an issue arose regarding alleged threadbare tyres on the car and, because it was unclear if Liberty would indemnify Michael Ward concerning any damages, the bureau was also joined as a defendant. Michael Ward was not represented in the case.

The judge said the engineering evidence was that the accident occurred on a very straight stretch of road and it seemed the car ended up in a ditch and came into contact with a gate pillar.

Patrick Ward said he sustained neck and rib injuries and an injury to his eye. His evidence was that these cleared-up in a few months and the only treatment he received was painkillers, anti-inflammatories and eye drops.

The judge noted that Patrick Ward told his GP within two weeks of the accident that he was ok but, although he is unemployed and thus has no loss of earnings, had claimed €60,000 damages over the injuries.

Patrick Ward also said in one form for the personal injuries assessment board that he was a front seat passenger when the car went around a bend and lost control but in another form, and a reply to particulars, he was described as a back seat passenger when the car skidded in snow.

Back seat

While his solicitor had said he assumed the reference in the reply to particulars to back seat was a mistake, Patrick Ward was bound by that reply, the judge said. Though it was possible the solicitor’s assumption was correct and he was a front seat passenger, it was “equally possible” that he did tell his solicitor he was in the back seat.

Another man has brought a personal injuries claim over the same accident, which alleges he was in the front seat, but in replies to particulars he said he was in the back.

A consultant in emergency medicine also reported that Patrick Ward was a front seat passenger and the cause of the accident was not snow or a bend but a car travelling in the opposite direction which forced the Ward car into the side of the road and into a pillar.

Mr Ward maintained in evidence that he was in the front seat and never accepted any responsibility for the inconsistencies in the evidence but simply blamed his solicitor or doctor for incorrectly referencing what he said or the other man for allegedly giving false statements in his claim, the judge said.