LEADING PERSONAL INJURY JUDGE BARR CLARIFIES LAW ON ASSESSMENT OF DAMAGES FOR PAIN AND SUFFERING FOR MULTIPLE INJURIES
There has been considerable confusion since the introduction of the new personal injury guidelines in 2021 as to how general damages for personal injuries are to be to be assessed when valuing multiple injuries. A leading High Court Judge has now brought further clarity to this area in an important decision.
In a recent Judgement delivered by Mr. Justice Barr of the High Court on the 6th December 2022, in the case of Patrick Mc Donnell V Upton Foods Limited case, where a man sustained injuries to his right shoulder, a psychiatric adjustment disorder and depression following an accident the Judge held that in valuing the injuries, the Court must have regard to the dominant injury and then apply a reasonable uplift for the psychiatric aspect.
The Judge stated that the appropriate approach Judges should in assessing award levels are set out in the guidelines themselves. In a case involving multiple injuries, the appropriate approach for a trial judge to adopt , where possible, is to identify the injury in the bracket of damages in the guidelines that best resemble the most significant of the claimants injuries. The judge should then value that injury and thereafter uplift the value to ensure that the claimant is fairly and justly compensated for all the additional pain, discomfort and limitation arising from the lesser injury/injuries.
The Judge also said that it was of the utmost importance that the overall award of damages made in a case involving multiple injuries should be proportionate and just when considered in light of the severity of other injuries which attract an equivalent award under the guidelines.
Speaking about this recent important decision of Judge Barr of the High Court, Liam Moloney, Personal Injury Solicitor said today “this case follows on from a previous decision of the High Court in the case of Lipinski (a minor) v Whelan which set out the approach that judges must take into account when considering the effect of multiple injuries on the level of damages to be awarded. Judge Barr re-affirms the principle of fairness in the delivery of the appropriate level of damages and in that case an award of €75,000 was made to the plaintiff. The Court valued the dominant should injury for both past and future pain and suffering at €55,000 with an uplift of €20,000 for his psychiatric injury”.