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Saturday 25 November 2017

Woman who 'exaggerated' injuries gets €95k payout

Mr Justice Raymond Fullam was satisfied the woman had exaggerated her symptoms and their connection with the accident. Stock picture
Mr Justice Raymond Fullam was satisfied the woman had exaggerated her symptoms and their connection with the accident. Stock picture

A woman, who a judge said had exaggerated symptoms of chronic pain caused by hitting her head on the headrest of a taxi as it collided with a fence while reversing, has been awarded €95,000.

However, Joanne Cullivan, of St James Court, Echlin Street, Dublin, is to appeal the award after the High Court heard she had been offered €150,000 to settle the case beforehand.

Ms Cullivan (43), an HSE project worker on an anti-human trafficking team for adults, sued taxi driver Con O'Leary, of Villa Park Gardens, Ashtown, Dublin, over the accident that occurred as she was on the way to meet a client on September 1, 2011.

Liability was admitted and the court only had to assess the amount of damages.

The taxi took a wrong turn and she was leaning forward with her arm fully extended, directing the driver when, while reversing, it hit a palisade fence. Her head hit the top left-hand side of the headrest.

She sued, claiming she had developed chronic pain syndrome (CPS), had remained out of work since October 2012 and claimed she might never be able to return to work.

It was argued on her behalf she lived a full life before the accident, had wanted to get back to work and had made strenuous efforts to improve her symptoms. She had not fabricated or exaggerated her symptoms, it was also argued.

She claimed special damages of more than €794,000 on the basis of a rehabilitation consultant's view that she was unlikely to return to work.

Mr Justice Raymond Fullam was satisfied she had exaggerated her symptoms and their connection with the accident.

However, the court accepted she has CPS based on the evidence presented by experts. There was agreement between the experts as to the appropriate treatment for her and there was a difference, but only one of degree, about her prognosis.

Suffering

In light of the exaggeration, the court preferred the prognosis of the defendant's psychiatrist that she should be able to return to work three months after conclusion of litigation.

She was therefore entitled to €48,672 for loss of earnings and medical expenses, along with €40,000 for general damages and future pain and suffering. Together with the loss of earnings for the next three months, the total award was €95,537.

Paul O'Neill, for Mr O'Leary, said in light of the fact that an offer of €150,000 was made to Ms Cullivan's side in 2015, costs should be awarded on the appropriate scale.

Counsel for Ms Cullivan asked for a stay on the costs order as there was going to be an appeal.

Mr Justice Fullam directed that €60,000 of the award be paid out and he put a stay on the award.

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