Quantifying Multiple Injuries – A Balancing Act
Dean Keogh v Maria Byrne  IEHC 19
The Personal Injuries Guidelines (‘the Guidelines’), which catalogue the level of General Damages awards for various different types of injuries, were adopted by the Judicial Council on 6th March 2021. In cases involving multiple injuries, difficulty can arise when applying the Guidelines, given that each individual injury is valued separately. The Guidelines provide that in cases involving multiple injuries, the appropriate approach for the trial Judge to adopt, is to identify the injury and the bracket of damages which relates to the most significant injury and to uplift the value of this injury, to ensure that the Plaintiff is compensated appropriately for the additional pain arising from the lesser injuries. Mr Justice Coffey considered these principles further in the recent judgment of Dean Keogh v Maria Byrne  IEHC 19, which is considered further below.
The Plaintiff, a Garda Officer, claimed for damages in respect of a road traffic accident, which occurred on 18th September 2021. The Defendant drove her car into the path of the Plaintiff, causing him to be propelled from his motorcycle. As a result, the Plaintiff suffered trauma to both his arms, testicular bruising and other minor soft tissue injuries including bruising to his inner thighs, chest and ribs. Liability was admitted on behalf of the Defendant and a Special Damages award of €5,138.78 had been agreed between the parties. The Plaintiff’s General Damages award was considered by the Court.
The Personal Injuries Guidelines (“the Guidelines”), were considered by Mr Justice Coffey when determining the Plaintiff’s award of General Damages. When applying the Guidelines to this case, Mr Justice Coffey highlighted that where a Court is required to assess General Damages for multiple injuries, the Court must ensure the plaintiff is compensated for their pain and suffering resulting from their injuries and holistically evaluate the cumulative effect of all injuries to adjust the ultimate award to avoid over or under compensation. This requires the Trial Judge to ‘step back’ from the individual injuries and their corresponding assigned values. Mr Justice Coffey highlighted that consideration must be given to the ‘overlap’ of temporal injuries and advised that it would be appropriate to apply a discount to the award of damages, to reflect the fact that the (multiple) injuries arose from the same event, involving treatment and recovery at the one time.
Justice Coffey acknowledged that the Plaintiff had made a substantial functional recovery from his injuries and whilst he noted that the Plaintiff had a 25% risk of developing arthritis in his right wrist, Mr Justice Coffey considered that this risk did not equate to a probability of such an event occurring. Mr Justice Coffey assigned General Damages of €55,000 in respect of the Plaintiff’s injuries to his right forearm. Further Mr Justice Coffey assigned €42,000 General Damages in respect of the Plaintiff’s injuries to their right wrist. A further award of €3,000 for soft tissue injuries was assigned.
Having regard to the overlap of the injuries Mr Justice Coffey applied a €15,000 discount to the assigned value of the Plaintiff’s lesser injuries. The Plaintiff’s total General Damages award was, therefore, reduced from €100,000 to €85,000.
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*This information is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute, nor should be regarded, as a substitute for taking legal advice.