A man who had his car stolen after being held at knifepoint in his home has told the BBC that he feels he has been re-victimised by three personal injury claims made by police officers following the incident.
During a police chase following the armed burglary, Terence Duffin’s car was written off and he has now received civil claims from three police officers, even though he was not in the car.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have said that the claims are private matters between the individual officers and the insurance companies involved.
The incident occurred at the end of August 2016 when two armed men forced their way into Mr Duffin’s house in Newcastle, County Down.
“They pushed me into the kitchen and proceeded to pull out carving knives,” he said. “The house was ransacked, items were stolen and they took my car.”
After reporting the matter to the police, Mr Duffin’s car was traced and followed to Belfast. He said; “It was on the Dunbar Link that the men rammed the police car and it wasn’t until the Seven Mile Straight in Antrim that they were actually apprehended by police who had set up a road block.”
Mr Duffin said he was left traumatised by the theft but that things were made worse when he was notified of the claims by his insurance company. He said his no-claims bonus was likely to be affected and he feared his car insurance premiums could increase as a result. The PSNI have acknowledged this may be the case.
Jennifer Young, a Personal Injury lawyer in the firm of Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors, advises that this type of claim was a police officer’s only option if they were injured when on duty by an uninsured vehicle:-
“Although the victim is entirely innocent and someone else has stolen the vehicle, their insurance may go up as a result of a claim under their policy – that is simply the nature of car insurance,”
Ms Young explained why the injured officers would not be able to claim on the PSNI’s insurance policy:-
“The police officers would have to show that their employers have been at fault in some way or that they’ve caused the accident, or that they failed to put in adequate safeguards in place to protect them when they were on duty,”
“In this situation, the accident was caused as a result of the negligent driving of the uninsured driver who has stolen the vehicle and so in that case a claim against the PSNI wouldn’t be likely to get off the ground as there is no negligence on their part.”