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Compensation

What amount of compensation will a plaintiff get from a court in an Irish personal injury claim?

The amount depends on the individual case. Damages are usually assessed by reference to “General Damagesâ€? and “Special Damagesâ€?. The former is to compensate for pain and suffering and the latter is to cover expenses and actual losses.

A stockbroker with a substantial income would undoubtedly suffer considerable losses under the “Special Damagesâ€? head, absolutely and relatively. After all, if a claimant has suffered six months loss of earnings as a result of personal injury, a highly paid individual will have lost a greater sum in that six months than an individual of lesser earnings.

However, the pain and suffering of a stockbroker is not of greater “valueâ€? than the pain and suffering of a binman (a garbage collector).

Thus, where the injuries of the stockbroker and the binman are comparable, they will, in principle, receive compensation of equivalent sums for pain and suffering.

In Sinnott v Quinnsworth [1984] ILRM 523 the Irish Supreme Court established a ceiling on the amount a plaintiff could be awarded in General Damages, that is, for pain and suffering. It fixed the sum, in 1984 at IR£150,000.

That, inevitably, began to be eroded with the passage of time.

Thus, in McEneaney v Monaghan County Council [2001] IEHC the court adjusted the ceiling to IR£300,000.

There was an indication from the Supreme Court in Nolan v Murphy [2005] IESC that the judge in McEneaney had, indeed, been conservative in the ceiling he applied in that case and in Nolan the Supreme Court, while reducing the sum awarded by the jury in the High Court awarded €350,000.

Thus, currently, the most that a defendant will have to pay, in Ireland, for personal injury (including psychological injury), regardless of severity of the injury, is approximately €350,000.

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