Section 26 of the Civil Liability Act – Honesty is the best policy

SECTION 26 OF THE ACT states that if a personal injury claimant does not tell the truth on affidavit OR does not tell the truth in Court then the Court has the power to either dismiss the claim in it’s entirety or penalise the claimant in respect of any award of damages made.

There are other sections in the Act which also give rise to harsh penalties and consequences if a personal injury claimant does not tell the truth or gives false or misleading evidence. This is the case even where a personal injury claimant has done so unwittingly or even innocently. For example not giving a full account of previous accident claims which may have been forgotten or not regarded as relevant by the personal injury claimant.

What does this mean?

It means that your solicitor has a duty to advise you of the effect of these sections at all stages of your compensation claim. It also means that your solicitor should carefully and diligently check and re-check the information you provide before disclosing it to the other side. It is of course accepted that members of the public seeking to pursue compensation claims will not be aware of the consequences of these statutory provisions, so your solicitor has a duty to protect you from falling foul of same.

There have been a number of recent significant High Court decisions which clearly show the attitude of our Judges as to how these sections, in particular Section 26 should be applied to personal injury claims.

For example the case of McKenna -v- Dormer Services was dismissed by Mr. Justice Quirke of the High Court in circumstances where the Judge found that the plaintiff had given “misleading evidence” in respect of his injuries and had attempted to mount a nine year claim for loss of earnings, even though he had been working during this period.

The case of Farrell -v- Dublin Bus is another example. In that case the Judge commented……… “The provisions of the 2004 Act, Section 26 were or should have been to the forefront of the minds of all legal practitioners at the relevant time”. What is significant about this case is that the plaintiff withdrew certain aspects of her claim for loss of earnings in the course of the hearing, in other words she attempted to amend her hand however this was not viewed favourably by the learned Judge.

In a very recent case (July 2012) a Polish national was forced to withdraw his entire personal injury claim for which he was claiming substantial compensation for injuries, loss of amenity and loss of earnings. In that case the solicitors for the insurance company defending the case produced evidence that the plaintiff had “over-exaggerated” his injuries.

At C. M. Haughey Solicitors we are fully familiar with the law in this area and we ensure all clients are given expert advice and guidance throughout the claims process whether that involves the Injuries Board or going to Court.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article or would like to discuss your personal injury claim please feel free to contact us on a confidential, no obligation basis.