The latest High Court decision of Ms Justice Niamh Hyland reiterates it is not the responsibility of the Court to “disentangle” the plaintiff’s claims in the event that it is entangled through misrepresentations and lies from the plaintiff. A burden of evidence lies upon the plaintiff to show the cause of an accident or contributed to the injury.
Tomas McDonagh of RDJ LLP along and Damien Higgins SC and Niall Flynn BL effectively represented defendants, following instructions of a large insurer in the defense of the personal injury lawsuits filed to the Plaintiff.
The plaintiff initiated Circuit Court proceedings seeking damages in the event of personal injury that resulted in a road traffic crash on March 25, 2015, when the car in which he was driver in from the front was struck in the rear by truck of the defendant at traffic lights after it was smashed over the back of the car. The plaintiff was in a previous accident 18 March, 2015 when the car he was driving was rear-ended by a car in a motorway with a speed of 120km/h and where his spouse, brother and two sons filed demands for personal injuries. He was further involved in another accident on the 23rd of July in 2015 after his vehicle was hit by a vehicle along the Quays in Dublin and caused the vehicle to spin.
The trial was first commenced before the Circuit Court and the plaintiff’s claim was dismissed under Section 26 of the Civil Liability and Coutts Act 2004 by Judge Fergus on November 27, 2020. The plaintiff did not have legal representation. The plaintiff filed an appeal with no legal representation.
The Court was referring to the Supreme Court decision in Vesey v Bus Eireann where the Court decided that it wasn’t the duty for the judge in the trial to “disentangle” the case of the plaintiff after it was involved due to falsehoods and deceit. The Court declared that it was unable to not unravel the truth, and it could only be in a position to speculate on the way that an accident led to the injury.
Additionally to that, the Court was also relying on Section 26 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004. The essence of section 26 in the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 permits disqualification of the plaintiff’s case in the event that a plaintiff provides false or misleading information or when the Court has concluded that the plaintiff has signed an affidavit in accordance with s.14 of the Act which is not true or misleading in any regard. In the laws that this section is obligatory in its nature. The section is a requirement for the defendant to show the evidence provided by the plaintiff or gave information that is false or misleading.
The counsel for the defendants sought to dismiss the plaintiff’s appeal on the grounds:
- The plaintiff did not establish an initial prima facie argument and did not meet all the proof burden imposed on him in the context of Vesey in v Bus Eireann
- The plaintiff did not disclose the other two incidents, giving false answers, swearing to an untrue Affidavit, and caused doctors to present false information and the Court was required to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim under Section 26 of Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004.
The Court examined the accident that the plaintiff was involved in and concluded that the accident that occurred on the 18th of March, 2015 had been a grave incident and that the consequences must be substantial as the plaintiff went to his GP at the time of the accident as well as Hospital within three days. The subsequent incident that occurred on the 23rd of July, 2015 demanded that the plaintiff visit his GP. Both accidents were not discussed in the proceedings of the plaintiff and neither were they mentioned in the replies to specifics. The Court also looked over the medical records but it wasn’t until later in the year that the reports of the plaintiff’s doctor reference the other accidents. The incident occurred after the plaintiff signing an Affidavit for Discovery and obtaining medical records, which revealed references to other accidents.
The Court found that the plaintiff had repeatedly did not mention the other incidents during his trial and the interactions with doctors. The Court found that had the plaintiff revealed the incidents he was involved in, there was a good chance that medical evidence would have addressed the various accidents that occurred and how each incident to the injury that were sustained. Without medical evidence, the Court cannot discern what was actually happening and the Court will be left to speculate about how the event which was the topic of the case resulted in or contributed to plaintiff’s injuries, particularly when there were other injuries suffered by the plaintiff at a similar the same time. The plaintiff believed the event that was subject to the case caused injuries however, the Court could not decide to award damages on the basis of beliefs and concluded that the plaintiff did not meet the burden of proving that his injury was resulted from or was caused through the incident that was that was the focus of the case.
The Court also looked at Section 26 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 and dismissed the plaintiff’s claims under the Section 26(1) of the Act under the circumstance that the plaintiff’s responses to specifics were not correct and that the plaintiff should have been aware that the initial medical report was insufficient. Additionally, since an Affidavit of Verification for the replies to specifics was wrong and the plaintiff had to be aware of in fact the case that the Court rejected the case according to the Section 26(2) in the Act.
The Court accordingly denied the plaintiff’s claim.
The ruling of Justice Hyland in the High Court serves as a reminder of the Courts duty to decide instances of personal injuries in which the parties have become involved by a defendant’s lies or misrepresentations. A burden of proof lies upon the plaintiff who must prove that his injuries were resulted from or was caused through the accident. When a person is involved in the path of lying and deceit, not only can the claim of the plaintiff be dismissed under Section 26 in the Civil Liability and Courts Act in 2004, but the plaintiff might even be unable to meet the obligation of proof since it’s not the responsibility of the Court to unravel the fact from the fiction. It is the Court must have evidence in order to make upon the extent to which the accident resulted in the injuries according to the claim of the plaintiff. The evidence cannot be presented for the Court in the event that the plaintiff was not honest in his pleas as well as his interactions with medical doctors.