‘Fierce shortage of judges’ causes personal injuries case to be delayed (Via Irish Times)

Judge forced to abandon case mid-action to work on family law list

Judge Kathryn Hutton highlighted the shortage of judges on Monday when she had to abandon a personal injuries case mid-action in order to tackle the family law list.

The judge had been hearing a case in the Circuit Civil Court when she received the call to move to another court to deal with family law matters.

“I will have to reserve my decision in this case and leave to take up the list in Phoenix House,” she said. “We are all aware of the fierce shortage of judges.”

Judge Hutton had almost finished dealing with her first case involving a Dublin man who had complained of injuries to head, neck, back, right knee, right ankle, left wrist, left hand including a broken little finger, and abrasions to his left hip.

Alex Timbal, of Rushbrook Park, Templeogue, Dublin 6W, had told his barrister Conor Kearney that he had been hit by a car while cycling on the Walkinstown Roundabout in December 2018.

He said he had somersaulted on to the bonnet of a car driven by Thomas Slater, Captain’s Avenue, Crumlin, Dublin 12, before being thrown on to the roadway. He said he had been taken by ambulance to Tallaght Hospital where he had undergone a series of X-rays and treatments before his discharge.

Mr Kearney, who appeared with Holmes O’Malley Sexton Solicitors, told Judge Hutton that liability had been conceded by Mr Slater’s insurers and the court was being asked to assess damages on medical evidence.

Judge Hutton said she had been called to take up the family law list in another court and would reserve her decision in this case.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine, former President of the High Court, on her retirement last year criticised what she described as evidence of under investment in the justice system leading to a significant shortage of judges in all courts.

To read the full story please visit:

Sharp fall in High Court personal injuries claims sparks demands for insurers to pass on benefits (Via Irish Times)

223 new claims per month in first nine months of last year, compared with 666 per month in 2019

Guidelines slashing awards for mostly minor personal injuries are contributing to a sharp drop in the quantity of High Court personal injury claims, according to new figures.

Data from the Courts Service shows new personal injury claims initiated in the High Court averaged 223 per month in the first nine months of last year, about one-third of the 666 monthly average for 2019.

The figures prompted a renewed demand on Monday by the Alliance for Insurance Reform (AIR) for insurers to pass on the benefits of the “dramatic” reduction in claims to policy holders.

Since the introduction in April 2021 of the guidelines, following approval by the Judicial Council, awards for personal injuries have fallen by as much as 50 per cent. The effect, as the latest figures underline, is that fewer cases are being initiated.

Mr Boland said: “Regardless of the reasons for this dramatic reduction in claims, they are generating very substantial savings within the personal injuries regime.

“These savings are not accruing to liability insurance policy holders so they can only be accruing to liability insurers. This is a matter of serious concern for the Government and its insurance reform agenda.”

The Government, he urged, “must apply intense pressure on incumbent insurers to pass these benefits on”.

Solicitor and senior counsel Stuart Gilhooly said he was “not at all surprised” about the drop in High Court personal injury claims. It is down to several factors, including the guidelines and the fall in overall personal injury claims numbers in the past few years, he said.

He said he expects it will be 2024 before the impact of the guidelines can be properly assessed as pre-guideline cases are continuing to work their way through the courts.

“People seem less inclined to bring claims because damages are much lower and they are finding it harder to get solicitors to take cases, not so much in the High Court but in the Circuit and District Courts,” he said. “There is a definite access-to-justice issue, it is just not economic any more for smaller solicitors to take these cases.”

To read the full story please visit:

Cycling injuries on Luas tracks ‘a significant public health issue’, study finds (Via Irish Times)

Analysis of injuries at St James’s Hospital finds Luas tracks at College Green a particular ‘black spot’

The scale of injuries to cyclists as a result of bicycles getting stuck in tram tracks on the Luas lines in Dublin is “a significant public health issue”, according to a new medical study.

A review of cyclists attending the emergency department in St James’s Hospital in Dublin over a two-year period found 48 patients had suffered injuries sustained when their bicycle wheel got caught in the on-road Luas tracks.

The Dublin cycling campaign group said the gap at the Luas tracks “almost perfectly” fits bicycle wheels, with this research showing the need to increase the presence of segregated cycle lanes.

It identified the Luas tracks around College Green as a particular “black spot”, accounting for 46 per cent of all incidents. Stephen’s Lane near Heuston Station and Dawson Street each accounted for one-in-eight accident sites.

The study by a team of researchers found 60 per cent of such patients had suffered a limb fracture with 14 per cent requiring orthopaedic surgery.

Among the most serious injuries was a patient who suffered a broken hip and another who had part of their bicycle embedded in the soft tissue of their thigh.

A third of all injured cyclists sustained some type of head injury, while a quarter of all patients suffered a soft tissue injury.

The study also revealed that 50 per cent of the patients were not wearing a helmet at the time of the incident.

However, the researchers said the rate of non-wearing of a helmet could be even higher than 50 per cent due to incomplete data on some patients.

More than half of all casualties (56 per cent) sustained an upper limb injury with injuries to the shoulder, hand and elbow the most common, while a third suffered some form of injury to the lower limbs, mostly the knee.

The medical records showed that 54 per cent of the collisions occurred around Dublin city centre during morning and evening rush hours.

Over four-in-ten cyclists were brought to hospital by ambulance from the site of the accident.

Males accounted for 55 per cent of the injured cyclists while 45 per cent were female, while the median age of patients was 30 years.

Researchers conducted a retrospective study of cycling injuries linked to the Luas tracks from patients who presented at St James’s emergency department between November 2017 and November 2019.

The findings, which are published in the Irish Journal of Medical Science, showed four cyclists required immediate orthopaedic surgery while three others were admitted for surgery from the fracture clinic.

One of the report’s authors, Olivia Smith, a member of the medical staff in St James’s emergency department, said the audit demonstrates that cycling in and around tram track lines has “inherent dangers”.

The report said the type of injuries sustained by cyclists in such accidents had the potential to not only impact significantly on their day-to-day lives and their employment capability but also at a psychological level on injury outcome and ability to return to work.

Ms Smith said crossing the Luas tracks at a direct 90 degree angle would reduce the risk of a wheel getting caught.

However, she acknowledged that accurate manoeuvring across tram tracks in busy rush hour traffic could prove “challenging or impossible” at traffic-clogged intersections,

The report noted that the filling in of the grooves on the Luas tracks had been suggested but appeared to present engineering difficulties, it also suggested that better signage to heighten awareness among cyclists may need to be considered.

The study observed that it had gathered data on just one of six adult emergency departments in Dublin city, and that many cyclists may not receive medical attention, or instead visit their GP or a private minor injuries unit.

“Therefore it is possible the number of cyclists involved in tram track cycling injuries in Dublin city may be significantly higher than the number of incidents identified here,” it concluded.

Úna Morrison, public relations officer at Dublin Cycling Campaign, said injuries sustained by cyclists after falling due to Luas tracks are an “issue”.

“From our point of view, anything that causes injury to cyclists is something we need to prevent. We want to ensure that all our cyclists can safely cycle on the road. The way we can ensure this is to continue the expansion of segregated cycle lanes,” she said.

Hazel Chu, Green Party councillor at Dublin City Council and former lord mayor, fell from her bike after its tyres got stuck in a tram track on Dawson Street in summer 2020.

“I fell over and I was trying to get back up when a bus came up behind and started beeping at me. I eventually got back up, but it was hard to get the bike out of the track. It was fine, I was just hurt with some scraping, but I wasn’t seriously injured,” she said.

“This is why we need proper infrastructure for bikes across the city.”

To read the full story please visit: