The High Court has ruled that FBD Insurance must pay the legal costs of a case as a result of its failure to carry out a “thoroughgoing investigation” of statements made by policyholders. The policyholders were being sued over an incident outside their home in Tallaght Dublin. Mr Justice John Hedigan ruled that FBD was liable to pay the full costs of defending an action brought against policyholders Des Gallagher and his wife Emma Hutchinson.
Evidence was heard that the couple had informed an FBD investigator gathering information about the incident that they did not have any work done on the footpath outside their home. There was however evidence to the contrary heard during the course of the hearing. The court felt that FBD could have ascertained the true position by conducting a thorough investigation.
The case related to a neighbour of the policy holders who tripped on a lip created when a ramp was built into a second entrance to their home during extension works in 2010. The injured neighbour issued proceedings for damages arsing from her injuries against South Dublin County Council as they are the relevant responsible authority for roads and footpaths. Mr Gallagher and Ms Hutchinson were later added to the proceedings. South Dublin Co. Co. pleaded in their defence that the couple carried out work on the footpath without its knowledge or consent.
FBD had repudiated liability under the relevant policy held by the couple after it transpired during the course of the proceedings, that the policyholders had had work done to create an entrance into a driveway and FBD withdrew its legal representation for the couple. Last March, Mr Gallagher and his wife were found liable for damages however after the court ruling , FBD must now pay the legal costs.
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