Seven men awarded claims as High Court reject car hire company’s claim that collision was ‘set up’
Seven men have been awarded sums of between €5,050 and €9,550 over a traffic accident after the High Court rejected a car hire company’s claim the collision was a set up.
The case concerned an appeal by Ryans Investments NI Ltd, trading as Hertz Rent-a-Car, against a Circuit Court decision awarding the seven similar sums over the accident on a roundabout in Lifford, Co Donegal, on June 28, 2011.
Five men were travelling in the hire car while four were in the second car which was hit because the other car failed to stop as it came on to the roundabout, the court heard. Seven sued over back and neck injuries.
Hertz claimed those involved knew each other through membership of Republican commemoration groups called the Joseph Plunkett and Charlie D’Arcy Societies.
Mr Justice Charles Meenan said the most that was admitted by the plaintiffs was that some of the men knew each other “to see”.
Though the evidence, in some instances, concerning prior knowledge of each other, was “less than forthright I do not believe such evidence went so far as to establish the collision was a ‘set up'”, he said.
The judge said Hertz had also relied on an overheard phone conversation when the man who hired the car returned it to the Derry Hertz office.
The man, Gareth Feeney, with addresses in Strabane, Co Tyrrone, and Middlesex, England, rang the driver of the other car, Martin Lafferty (56), from Clady, Strabane, looking for details of Laffety’s car. He opened the conversation with “How’re ya Marty”, Hertz claimed. Mr Feeney was also sued but did not defend the case.
Mr Justice Meenan said one would have thought, if the collision was a set up, the information sought by Mr Feeney in the phone call would already have been firmly fixed in his mind prior to returning the hire car. “This information would be an essential part of the whole operation”, he said.
Hertz had also alleged the seven had considerably exaggerated the nature, extent and effects of their various injuries, he said.
“Evidence was adduced of a number of the plaintiffs engaging in dancing, skiing, running and skydiving in the years following but not immediately after the collision”, he said.
However, he said, medical reports, admitted by Hertz, on each of them were consistent with the evidence they gave, he said.
It followed they were entitled to damages.
He made the following awards to the seven, all from Strabane: Kevin Darragh (age 32), Townsend Street – €8,050; Ivan Hunter (48), Castlegrange – €6,550; Aaron Kelly (36) Castlegrange – €5,050; Martin Feeney (55), Carlton Drive – €5,050; Martin Lafferty (56), Clady – €9,050; Thaddeus Deazley (57), Orchard Road – €9,550 and Neil Lafferty (29), Bellscourt, Clady – €9,550.
If you would like more information regarding an accident and would like a free claim assessment then phone 01 685 4458.