Defence Insurance Litigation

The litigation department at Carson McDowell includes a highly experienced defence insurance litigation team. Jointly headed by partner, Catherine Carton and Senior Associate Cathal O'Neill, the team includes four associates and one assistant solicitor. The team possesses a wealth of experience in handling a wide spectrum of contentious matters. We act on behalf of both insurers and self-insured companies.

What we do

  • Employers Liability
  • Public Liability
  • Industrial disease claims to include repetitive strain injuries, dermatitis, occupational asthma, asbestosis claims, pleural plaques, mesothelioma, carpal tunnel syndrome and vibration white finger. We are currently dealing with a high volume of industrial deafness claims
  • Road traffic accident claims – all types from alleged whiplash to catastrophic injuries/fatal claims
  • Personal injury and property damage caused by fire
  • Catastrophic accidents at work and to the public resulting in death or serious injury
  • Property damage claims
  • Marine related accidents

Our Defence Insurance Litigation Experience

Our team is dedicated to the timely management and cost effective administration of claims. When claims are litigated we deal with them robustly with the objective of pressing the action through to conclusion as quickly and efficiently as possible ensuring costs (even if the claim is prepared as a contest) are kept to a minimum.

The number of solicitors with a high level of experience in the defence of personal injury claims and other claims would afford a valuable resource in the event of any large scale or catastrophic occurrence which might require urgent attention on behalf of an insurer/insured.

We recognise that when dealing with insurance claims we have an obligation to insurers and the insured. We regularly advise on and deal with indemnity issues. If indemnity is refused we work with insurers to protect their interests and when possible recover sums paid on behalf of the insured.

The defence insurance litigation team is also skilled in providing an emergency crisis response service in relation to investigations by the Health and Safety Executive, local authorities and the Police. We recognise the importance of early investigations for both the insurer and insured following a serious injury or fatality. We have in-depth experience handling fatal and non-fatal investigations which includes PACE interviews, information requests from the Health & Safety Executive and the subsequent Crown Court prosecutions.

The defence insurance litigation team frequently attend inquests and appear in the Coroner’s Court. We recognise the devastating impact a fatal accident can have particularly in the workplace for management and the general work force. We assist companies and individuals to draft depositions, instruct experts, we attend preliminary hearings and provide representation at Inquest hearings (to include Inquests before a jury).

What Others Say About Us

Chambers UK 2021

What the team is known for

Respected practice acting for a range of insurers and self-insured clients. Acts on claims related to employers', occupiers' and public liability, as well as RTAs. Further assists clients with industrial disease claims, in addition to cross-border cases involving the Republic of Ireland.

Work highlights

Represented engineering company Beale & Co in its defence of a high-value public liability claim concerning a plaintiff who sustained a head injury after being struck by a car, the driver of which had their view obstructed by building works on which the client was CDM coordinator. After the main contractor and co-defendant refused to accept liability the matter proceeded to trial, where judgment ultimately apportioned only one-third of liability to Beale & Co with the main contractor having to pay the remaining two-thirds along with additional costs.

Notable practitioners

Claire Harmer

The ​Legal 500 2021

The "excellent" Carson McDowell has "expertise in all areas of civil litigation, including industrial disease claims" and "experience in handling the defence of complex investigations." Fellow practice head Claire Harmer focuses on personal injury cases involving motor and work accidents, with expertise in examining employer's and public liability. Newly promoted partner Catherine Carton is well regarded for public and employer liability claims.


"Excellent client-focused firm providing comprehensive advice."

"Strong technical knowledge in the litigation team. Very experienced solicitors. Expertise in all areas of civil litigation, including industrial disease claims."

"Experience in handling the defence of complex investigations."

"Readily approachable. Provide prompt and detailed advice. Always prepared to consider our views and that of our clients."

"There is real strength across the whole team. They communicate well and give pragmatic, well considered advice based on excellent attention to detail and analysis of the claim. They are tactically astute."

Key clients

  • Belfast Harbour Commissioners
  • Travelers Insurance
  • Axis Capital
  • Enstar
  • Sedgwick
  • Faraday Insurance
  • Chubb Insurance
  • Davies Casualty/Garwyn
  • TT Club/Thomas Miller Claims Management
  • Crawfords Specialist Liability
  • Services/Broadspire
  • Riverstone Insurance
  • Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Limited
  • Beale & Co
  • McLarens
  • Medical Protection Society
  • Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland
  • Dental Protection
  • National Pharmaceutical Association
  • Association of Optometrists
  • Beazley Group