Shopkeeper sued by burglar who injured himself during break-in

Personal Injuries Assessment Board says processing €600 fee must only be paid if respondent consents to the claim being assessed

Stuart Gilhooly, a solicitor specialising in personal injury, said a burglar suing a business owner would be highly unlikely to succeed.

Stuart Gilhooly, a solicitor specialising in personal injury, said a burglar suing a business owner would be highly unlikely to succeed.

 

A shopkeeper has complained about being asked for a €600 processing fee from the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) after a burglar decided to sue him for an injury sustained while breaking into his shop.

The standard PIAB letter was delivered after the burglar’s solicitor contacted the shopkeeper requesting he accept responsibility for the injury to his client’s scrotum.

However, the PIAB said the businessman did not have to consent to it assessing the claim, and therefore was not obliged to pay the fee.

Stuart Gilhooly, a solicitor specialising in personal injury, said a burglar suing a business owner would be highly unlikely to succeed.

On RTÉ’s Liveline programme on Monday, the unusual case was described by the Co Cavan business owner, who was identified only as Kevin.

He said three men had used a sledgehammer to break their way into his premises and were about to make their escape when a neighbour noticed suspicious activity and contacted gardaí.

When they arrived, the men climbed back inside the shop when it is believed the claimant injured his scrotum on a shelf or unit.

Kevin said he was told the man was brought to hospital but did not require a stitch. All three of the burglars, he told the show, had received six month suspended sentences, but the man suing him was in prison for a different offence.

In November, he heard from the man’s solicitor requesting he take responsibility for the accident. After ignoring that correspondence, Kevin subsequently received a standard contact from the PIAB - the statutory first port of call for injury-related insurance claims - seeking notice of whether he consented to it reviewing the case.

While that process incurs a €600 processing fee, a respondent is not obliged to consent, at which point it is no longer a matter for the PIAB and can, where a claimant decides, proceed to the courts.

Kevin said his solicitor had advised him to refer the matter to his insurance company and that he believes they are not consenting to accept responsibility.

Commenting on the case, a spokesman for the PIAB told The Irish Times recipients have 90 days in which to respond.

“If they don’t see the validity in the case they can certainly consider the matter with their insurers,” he said. “We are obliged to contact them early so they have time to consider the matter.”

Anyone taking a claim for damages must first process that through the PIAB which, where consent is given on both sides, will assess the nature of the damages and an appropriate level of compensation.

“When we receive a claim we are required by law to write to the person the claim is made against giving them the option of having the case assessed by PIAB, which is a low cost and quick system,” he said.

Solicitor Stuart Gilhooly said he believed such a case would be unlikely to succeed as the standard of proof would be far greater for a trespasser in a personal injury claim that someone in normal circumstances.

“There is also a more human factor in that a judge listening to a case like that is likely to have very little sympathy for the burglar,” he said.