Personal Injury Compensation

Archive for November, 2013

Alternative Settlements of Compensation for Symphysiotomy Injuries to be Explored by Judge

November 28th, 2013. By Compensation News.

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly has announced that the Government are appointing Judge Yvonne Murphy to explore alternative settlements of compensation for symphysiotomy injuries after the Government withdrew its support for Sinn Fein´s Private Members Bill.

Dr Reilly made the announcement in a press conference after it had been revealed that – due to legal advice – the Government was not going to continue its support of Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin´s Bill which would allow the 300 surviving victims of the controversial childbirth procedure to claim compensation for the injuries they sustained.

Many of the victims have had health issues such as incontinence, immobility and chronic pain since they underwent the symphysiotomy operations that were conducted in Irish hospitals between 1940 and 1990, and Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin´s proposal to allow a one-year window in the Statute of Limitations would have enabled the women to obtain settlements of compensation for their symphysiotomy injuries.

However, it was considered that any such legislation would face a legal challenge from the insurance companies liable for making the settlements of compensation for symphysiotomy injuries, and the Government has instead appointed Judge Yvonne Murthy to explore alternative options to recovering compensation through the courts.

Dr Reilly said that one possible option was for the victims of symphysiotomy procedures to receive an “ex gratia” payment from a fund specifically set up for such a purpose, and the Minister indicated that the Government would contribute to such a fund. It is understood that Judge Murphy will be speaking with some of the insurance companies opposed to a window in the Statute of Limitations to determine whether they would also contribute to a central fund.

The announcement was welcomed by Tom Moran – Chairman of the support group “Survivors of Symphysiotomy Ltd” – who was happy that his members might at last receive settlements of compensation for symphysiotomy injuries and said “We welcome this decision to appoint the judge and hope it leads to women finally being given a chance of some kind of closure.”

Compensation for Birth Injuries due to Doctor Negligence Approved by Judge at High Court

November 19th, 2013. By Compensation News.

A High Court judge has approved a second interim payment of compensation for birth injuries due to doctor negligence for an eight-year-old girl, who sustained severe paraplegic cerebral palsy after a paediatrician failed to act on blood test results.

In October 2011, the Sheehan family from Mallow in County Cork had an interim settlement of €1.9 million compensation for birth injuries due to doctor negligence approved in the High Court in respect of an injury claim made on behalf of their eight-year-old daughter, Isabelle.

Isabelle was born by emergency Caesarean Section at the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital in November 2004 with severe paraplegic cerebral palsy, after the consultant paediatrician treating Isabelle´s mother had failed to act on blood test results which revealed a conflict of antibodies.

At the hearing in 2011, the consultant paediatrician – Dr David Corr – admitted that he had mismanaged the later stages of Catherine Sheehan´s pregnancy, and acknowledged that he should have referred Catherine to an expert in foetal medicine when the test results revealed the potential dangers to Isabelle´s health.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill approved the original €1.9 million settlement of compensation for birth injuries due to doctor negligence, and adjourned Isabelle´s case for two years to allow time for legislation to be passed which would enable a structured system of compensation to be introduced.

As no such legislation has yet been introduced, Isabelle´s case was heard again recently at the High Court by Mr Justice Kevin Cross; who was told that a second interim payment of compensation for birth injuries due to doctor negligence had been agreed, which would cover Isabelle´s care expenses for the next two years.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the interim payment of €635,000, after being told that Isabelle was keeping up with the other children at her mainstream school and that she was an intelligent and bright young girl. The judge wished Isabelle good luck in the future and adjourned her case for two more years when a further review will be conducted of her needs.

Claims for Burn Injuries at Work Rise by Fifty Percent

November 8th, 2013. By Compensation News.

Figures published in an Injuries Board fact sheet have revealed that claims for burn injuries at work have risen by 50 percent in the last year

According to Stephen Watkins – the Director of Corporate Services at the Injuries Board who compiled the fact sheet – compensation claims for burn injuries at work (which were submitted to the Injuries Board and the subsequent assessment accepted) increased from 28 in 2011 to 42 in 2012 (1).

Describing the 50 percent increase in claims for burn injuries at work as “worrying”, Mr Watkins wrote that €1.33 million had been awarded in compensation for burn injuries at work over the two years – adding that, during that period the average injury award had been €19,066.

The Injuries Board fact sheet also contained a selection of the most frequent reasons why burn injuries occur in the workplace:

  • Overflowing hot or boiling water
  • Burns from acids and chemicals
  • Electrical burns from faulty equipment
  • Clothes too close to a hear source catching fire
  • Burns due to splashes from hot sauces and liquids

The highest-value award of compensation for burn injuries at work (€106,949) was awarded to a chemical worker who had been badly injured in an accident involving an acid spill, but Mr Watkins stated in the fact sheet that the highest volume of claims for burn injuries at work were made by people working more with hot water – such as cleaners and kitchen staff (2).

Mr Watkins was keen not to dismiss other potential hazards in the workplace which could cause a burn injury – noting that tasks as apparently straightforward as making a hot drink could result in injury when safety precautions were ignored – and he urged employers to ensure that all safety precautions were taken to prevent burn injuries in the workplace.

Footnote (1) in 2012, the percentage of accepted assessments  made by the Injuries Board fell from 37.2 percent to 32.7 percent – implying that there may have been a further 80+ workplace burn injury claims in Ireland that were settled outside of the Injuries Board process.

Footnote (2) Because of the higher percentage of women working as cleaners and kitchen staff, female employees are three times more likely to sustain burn injuries at work (source “Summary of Workplace Injuries” published by the Health and Safety Authority).

Couple found Liable in Dog Attack Compensation Claim

November 2nd, 2013. By Compensation News.

A Kilbeggan couple have been found liable in a dog attack compensation claim for the injuries sustained by a postman who was trying to delivering mail to the couple´s house.

Sixty-three year old Joseph Dunne from Kilbeggan in County Westmeath sustained his injuries while delivering letters to the home of Olive Dalton and Martin Maher of Dublin Road in Kilbeggan on 8th October 2008. As he was pushing the mail through the couple´s letterbox, their husky-type dog escaped from their garden through a hole in the hedge and attacked him.

Joseph was knocked to the floor by the dog, who continued to claw his face and bite him until a passer-by struck the dog across the back with a stick and saved the postman from worse injury. Joseph was taken to hospital where he received twenty-two stitches for lacerations to the right side of his face and treatment for nerve damage to the right side of his forehead.

After seeking legal advice from a solicitor, Joseph made a dog attack compensation claim against Ms Dalton and Mr Maher – alleging that they had been negligent in failing to enclose their garden securely and allowing their dog to escape from their garden, and for failing to inform An Post of the potential dangers of delivering mail to the property.

Despite putting their dog down on the day following the incident, the couple denied their liability for Joseph´s injuries, and the case was heard at the High Court in Dublin in front of Mr Justice Michael Moriarty. The judge heard evidence from both parties, including that Joseph had to undergo plastic surgery when the stitches were removed to remove some of the scarring from his face.

Finding in Joseph´s favour, the judge awarded him €55,000 in settlement of his dog attack compensation claim and commented that Joseph had been particularly brave to return to work so soon after such a frightening event.

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