HOMS Solicitors recently successfully defended a number of staged accidents involving untraced motorists on behalf of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland at Limerick and Ennis Circuit Courts.

Limerick Circuit Court

HOMS defended claims brought by a husband and wife arising from a road traffic accident on the 23rd November 2012.

Circumstances and Evidence

The couple were passengers in a taxi which was impacted to the rear by an unidentified driver. The vehicle, a silver Nissan Primera, was subsequently found abandoned by the Gardaí after the alleged accident.

Evidence was adduced in Court on behalf of the MIBI that one of the Plaintiffs bought the vehicle in question from its previous owner on the day of the accident. CCTV evidence was also produced which captured the taxi leaving with the two Plaintiffs and being followed by the silver Nissan Primera. The taxi driver gave evidence that on approach to the first roundabout a silver Nissan Primera nearly impacted with the rear of his vehicle. On approach to a further roundabout, a number of kilometres further down the road, the same vehicle collided with the rear left hand side of his vehicle and fled the scene.

The previous owner of the silver Nissan Primera gave evidence that she had sold her vehicle to an unidentified person, who gave a false name and address, and who collected the vehicle on the day of the alleged accident. She was in a position to identify one of the Plaintiffs in Court on the day of the hearing as the purchaser. The investigating Garda outlined to the court the nature of his investigation and although a file was referred to the DPP, no prosecution was pursued as the person who purchased the silver Nissan Primera could not be identified as they would not take part in an identification line up. The Garda also gave evidence that one of the Plaintiffs was acting in a dramatic fashion after the accident, claiming he was unwell.

Judgment

In dismissing the case Judge O’Donnell outlined there were too many coincidences and he was not satisfied the accident was a genuine accident. Costs were awarded in favour of the MIBI.

Ennis Circuit Court

HOMS defended 8 claims arising out of a road traffic accident on 8th May 2014. Each Plaintiff had issued two sets of proceedings, one against the MIBI and separate proceedings against the taxi driver in whose vehicle they were travelling.

From a tactical point of view, all cases were listed together on the one day in conjunction with three other claims, two of which involved one of the Plaintiffs involved in our accident. All of these other claims involved either an untraced motorist or single vehicle collision. One of the Plaintiffs decided to withdraw his claims before evidence began, which was of further benefit.

Circumstances and Evidence

The Plaintiffs had called a taxi to the pub where they were drinking to go home. The taxi driver gave evidence that he was immediately suspicious of his passengers. One Plaintiff asked him for the make and model of his taxi and was heard relaying this to an individual on his mobile phone, along with their location. Moments later, they were rear-ended by a vehicle which took off at speed. The taxi driver gave chase and efforts by him to get the Plaintiffs to take down the registration number of the vehicle were ignored. As he began to gain on the vehicle, the Plaintiffs called on him to stop the vehicle as they were injured. They issued separate proceedings against the taxi driver alleging that his driving in pursuit of the untraced motorist had caused them further injury. The MIBI indemnified the taxi driver and defended all claims in full.

The Gardaí were called to the scene along with fire brigades and ambulances. The paramedics checked the Plaintiffs and found they were uninjured. The Plaintiffs demanded to be brought to hospital but the Gardaí at the scene refused to permit this, as the paramedics had confirmed they were uninjured. The taxi driver gave evidence in the aftermath that one of the Plaintiffs had said “sorry it had to be you” to him. Two of the Plaintiffs became aggressive with the Gardaí at the scene, resulting in one of them being arrested. The Plaintiffs gave evidence that this was as a result of the Gardaí wanting to search the vehicle for drugs, which was denied by the Gardaí and taxi driver.

Two of the Plaintiffs had failed to disclose previous and subsequent accidents where they were at fault and had made material damage claims. One of those accidents had involved compensation claims by a number of family members who had been injured. The relevant insurance company witness was in Court to give evidence, but the accidents were ultimately admitted by the Plaintiffs on cross-examination.

Judgment

Having heard the evidence, Judge Keys preferred the evidence of the taxi driver and investigating Garda to that of the Plaintiffs in respect of all issues and found that the Plaintiffs had not established that a bona fide accident had occurred. All claims were dismissed with costs to the Defendants.