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What is the Cap on General Damages

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What is the Maximum Compensation figure for General Damages?

In 1984 there was a “cap” placed on the maximum award payable for General Damages i.e., for pain and suffering at £150,000. This means that from 1984 the most a plaintiff could be awarded for pain and suffering was £150,000. This decision was made in the case of Sinnott v Quinnsworth Limited [1984]. In this case a jury made an award in favour of the plaintiff (the injured party) of £800,000 for general damages. This was appealed to the Supreme Court where it was held that the “cap” on general damages should be £150,000.

No cap was placed on the amount that could be awarded for Special Damages (out of pocket expenses to date and into the future such as medical care, loss of earnings etc).

  • 1984: Cap on General Damages introduced at £150,000.
  • 2001: Cap on General Damages increased to €300,000 [Case: McEneaney v Monaghan County Council [2001]]
  • 2009: Synnott Lawline Solicitors brought a case to the High Court and  succeeded in having the limit on general damages increased to €500,000.

Synnott Lawline Move the bar on the Cap for General Damages

In July 2009 Synnott Lawline Solicitors brought a case to the High Court on behalf of a plaintiff that had sustained a catastrophic back injury in a road traffic accident and, in this case, succeeded in having the limit on general damages increased to €500,000.

Case Study: Maggie Yang Yun v The Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland and Tommy Xiang Bai Tao [2009].

The plaintiff in this case was just 21 years old when she was involved in a serious road traffic collision which resulted in life changing, catastrophic injuries. The plaintiff was traveling as a back seat passenger in a car, when the vehicle hit the car in front and then collided with a third vehicle. The plaintiff was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, and she sustained a very serious injury to her back because of this collision.

Court Review of Cap on General Damages

The Court was asked in this case to review the cap on general damages and following on from an extensive review of the cap the Court made a Ruling whereby the cap was uplifted to €500,000. In this case, the Court considered the current economic climate, (Ireland was in the midst of recession), and in the circumstances, the plaintiff was not awarded the full amount of €500,000. The full Judgment is available here Maggie Yang Yun v MIBI & Others  

Court Offers Almost €2 million to the Plaintiff

This case examined in detail, all factors that should be taken into account when arriving at a figure for general damages including the amount of special damages being claimed. If the plaintiff is making a significant claim for special damages for items such as care into the future and loss of earnings, then it might be reasonable for the Court to provide a lower award for general damages. The Court will also look at whether the plaintiff’s life expectancy has been in any way reduced and they will consider the economic climate at the time the case is being heard.

  • Full Court Compensation Award Breakdown

    The Court made the following award in this case – Damages were therefore, awarded in total as follows:

    1. Agreed Special Damages to date: €14,380.12
    2. Fee paid to English Language Institute €2,000.00
    3. Loss of earnings to date: € 50,000.00
    4. Loss of earnings in the future: €350,000.00
    5. Care to date: €85,000.00
    6. Care, housekeeping, etc. in the future: €900,000.00
    7. Psychological treatment and pain management in the future: €100,000.00
    8. General Damages to date: €125,000.00
    9. General Damages in the future: €200,000.00

    Total: €1,826,380.12

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