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Danger Of Taking Lift From Uninsured Driver

Recent Changes in the Law: by Berwick Solicitors Galway.
Take A Taxi
If you are after partying late at night and you are offered a lift home in a car being driven by a friend, who you suspect is not insured to drive the car, what should you do? Instead, take a taxi. If you are injured by the careless driving of your friend, you cannot make a claim if you knew that your friend was uninsured.
This situation can sometimes arise innocently. In one court case (Kinsella –V- MIBI 1997), the claimant was 28 years old and had lent his car to his aunt. She wanted to test-drive it as regards whether such a car would suit her (as she was planning to buy a car). The claimant knew that his aunt used to drive her (aunt’s) husband’s car and thought that her aunt was covered by her husband’s insurance (i.e. thought that the husband had an open policy of insurance that would cover). The aunt also thought that she was so covered but the issue was never discussed or addressed. In this case, the court accepted that it was an innocent mistake and did not penalise the driver.
More commonly, the issue arises in more shady circumstances; usually involving young males and a lot of alcohol. In one case (Devlin -V- Cassidy 2004 IR.), the Claimant went drinking with five other male friends. The Claimant was collected from his house by the Owner of the car (who was then driving) and four other Passengers at about 6.30pm. The group of friends went on- the- town and drank and socialised until approximately 3 o’clock the following morning. Rather than the Owner of the car driving them home, the group decided that another member would drive (as they stated that they believed that he had not consumed as much alcohol). A severe accident occurred on the way home. On these facts, the Judge decided that the Claimant must have known that the said driver was not insured. The evidence was that the claimant was acquainted with the driver and so would have known that he did not have insurance to drive that car on the night.
Recent Change in Law
The law has changed recently in this regard (2009 MIBI Agreement). Before 2009, it was easier to show that “you knew” as it was enough to prove that it was obvious to you. It is not clear whether this change in the law would result in a different decision being reached in the above case (of the group of drunk young men).
Severe Penalty
If you fail the above test (i.e., that it is decided that you knew that the driver was uninsured), you totally lose your entire claim, i.e., not simply a percentage reduction.
Summary and Conclusion:
If in doubt that the driver is uninsured, don’t take chances. Instead, take a taxi.
Berwick Solicitors, 16 Eyre square, Galway is heavily involved in representing victims of accidents and has been engaged in this work for over 20 years. Feel free to contact us at 091 567545 or