Motorcycle Accident Victim Will Not Receive Full Award of Court Costs

A motorcycle accident victim will not receive the full value of her court costs in awards after only one of her claims was successful in court. 

In 2005, Madeline Wright suffered a severe spinal injury in a motorbike accident. Earlier this, Madeline made a successful medical negligence claim against the Health Service Executive (HSE) for a failure to act on the spinal injuries that she suffered in this accident. Although her claim for medical negligence against the HSE was successful, further claims made by her orthopaedic surgeon-Mr Keith Synott-and the Misericordiae Hospital and Sligo General Hospital were found to be unsubstantiated. Therefore, the HSE was the only body found liable to pay any compensation. 

In most cases, the court action costs are usually awarded in full to the plaintiff after a successful resolution of their claim. However, in this case, Ms Justice Mary Irvine of the High Court only awarded Madeline 65% of the court action costs against the expenses she and her legal team had accrued on the grounds that only 20% of the evidence presented in court related to the HSE negligence for which Madeline was compensated. The other evidence was all presented for the unsuccessful cases. 

Explaining the reason for the deduction, Ms Justice Mary Irvine said "I am satisfied that regardless of the fact that the plaintiff only succeeded on the last of what I consider to have been four separate legs of her claim that she must nonetheless be deemed to be the overall winner of proceedings in which the defendants denied any liability and in the course of which she duly established a right to compensation she would not otherwise have been able to recover".

The judge further stated that the claims made by Madeline were of a complex variety, and that the duration of the court case was significantly extended because of the unsubstantiated allegations against Mr Keith Synott, the Misericordiae Hospital and Sligo General Hospital. The judge admitted that she considered only awarded 20% of the court action costs, and said "[I] will do no more than reflect in a proportionate way the plaintiff's failure to succeed on this issue when reducing the level of [court action] costs to which she is entitled".