Swings and Roundabouts (and U-Turns)

There has been much media coverage on the personal injuries claim brought by a politician against an hotel arising from her alleged fall off a swing on the premises. This led to the politician withdrawing the claim and appearing on a radio programme to try to recover some of the lost public opinion. It appears that her interview on the programme had the opposite effect. Some of the justifications offered by her warrant comment.

Just to be clear I'm not looking for damages, I was only looking to have my medical expenses recouped and I was never looking for compensation”

The claimant later said that her medical expenses were approximately €6,000 or €7,000. The claimant confirmed that she has private medical insurance. If she was suing for recovery of these costs only, the claim should have been instituted in the District Court. We know that the claim was brought in the Circuit Court, which has a jurisdiction of up to €60,000 for personal injury claims.  This is against the backdrop of the defendant hotel allegedly offering to discharge her medical expenses prior to proceedings issuing.

“This is where it's dangerous when you cross legal documents at an early stage, the plaintiff has every right to amend those particulars before going to a judge and a judge can adjudicate in due course.”

This was said in response to a plea that she could not run for 3 months after the alleged accident, notwithstanding the fact that she had completed a 10k run 3 weeks after the alleged accident and posted to her social media account about it.  

It is true to say that pleadings can be amended and updated throughout the litigation process.  This is usually to take account of new information coming to light after the initial pleadings have issued, whether it be medical evidence or evidence which deals with issues on liability. 

This is not what appears to have occurred on this occasion.  The initial summons issued by the claimant appeared to contain allegations that could be deemed false or misleading.  This in and of itself may cause a Defendant to defend a claim, where if otherwise it might not, and/ or serves to increase the costs of defending such an action. 

“You're filling out an affidavit three years after the incident and you do that with the best of intentions but you know that prior to that going to a judge you can amend the affidavit”

Section 14 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 provides that where a plaintiff in a personal injuries action serves on the defendant any pleading containing assertions or allegations, or provides further information to the defendant, the plaintiff shall swear an affidavit verifying those assertions or allegations, or that further information.

This Affidavit must be sworn and filed within 21 days of the service of the pleading.

When swearing the Affidavit, the plaintiff must state that he/she is aware that the making of a statement by him/her in the affidavit that is false or misleading in any material respect and that he/she knows to be false or misleading is an offence.

It is simply not acceptable for a claimant to make an inaccurate claim on the basis that it can be corrected later.

The claimant in this case has now said that she will be withdrawing her claim.  It is not known if the defendant hotel has sought the costs incurred by them in defending the action to date.

A Plaintiff is entitled to sue for compensation for personal injuries caused to them by the negligent acts of another. A Plaintiff however is not entitled to sue for compensation for injuries caused to them by their own actions.  Defendants/defendant insurers should not have to incur additional and unnecessary costs in defending claims which are unfounded, incorrect, inflated or opportunistic.

Accidents happen, but it is not always the case that someone is to blame for them.

For further information please contact Lisa Mannion (Solicitor), or your usual AMOSS contact.