March 19, 2013

As the old saying goes, where there’s a claim, there’s blame. That has certainly been the experience of car theft victims in Northern Ireland who have increasingly found themselves being sued by police officers for injuries the latter have sustained in the course of recovering their stolen vehicles.

That has certainly been the experience of one Bill Rooney, who was roused one night last July by the sound of his car being taken and driven away from outside his North Belfast home. The police were alerted and intervened decisively, arresting two men and completely totaling Mr Rooney’s vehicle in the process.

Having succeeded in claiming a replacement from his insurers, Mr R was then surprised to receive a solicitor’s letter advising him that he was to be sued for personal injuries sustained by one of the police officers involved in the pursuit and destruction of his car. Protesting that he was the victim rather than the perpetrator of any offence that had taken place, Mr R professed himself “angry and disheartened”. The case is understood to be pending.

The BBC, from whom Bankstone News filched this story, has learned that Rooney – who now stands to lose, at the very least, his treasured no claims discount – is by no means an isolated example of an NI motorist being sued by a police officer for injuries sustained in the course of recovering a stolen vehicle. In response to a Freedom of Information request, however, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said they kept no records of such claims.

A police spokesperson said simply that such claims were a private matter and that police officers, like any other individuals, were at liberty to pursue a claim through the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) if they were in a crash where the driver of the other vehicle was at fault and could not be traced or was not insured.

All well and good, you may think – and, let’s face it, the important thing is not why insurance companies should have to pay for everything – but simply that they should. But from Mr Rooney’s point of view this must seem suspiciously like a case of adding injury to insult.


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