Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.

This is happening in Ireland, but we have heard of similar cases here in the US.

A group of burglars used a sledge hammer to break into a store in Kingscourt, Cavan using a sledgehammer. They destroyed the door and also the CCTV equipment.

As the police rolled up on them, the men took off in the dark, with one man apparently running into the corner of a display case, where he was slightly injured.

How slightly?

The shopkeeper called Kevin told broadcaster Joe Duffy that the burglar ran into a shelf as he was trying to leave and injured his genitals.

Speaking to RTÉ’s liveline, Kevin said: “It was probably dark in the store and I think he injured himself on a shelf or a unit… He had a cut to his scrotum,

“Reading the medical report on it, he didn’t get a stitch to it. He had one of those [steri] strips and was brought back to the Garda Station.” He said.

The shop owner is saying that he received a letter from the burglar’s lawyer (solicitor in the King’s English) demanding the shop owner pay for the man’s medical injuries.

“I got a letter from his solicitor asking me to take all responsibility for the accident,” Kevin said.

“My solicitor advised me to wait and see. We didn’t do anything. His solicitor then, obviously lodged it with PIAB (Personal Injuries Assessment Board) and we then got the letter from PIAB. If we wanted to take part it would cost us €600,” he continued.

In other words, now that the shop owner declined to pay for the thief’s injuries, he was taken to a hearing where some Board will determine if the shop owner is responsible for the law breaker’s medical bills. Just to show up and present the shop owner’s side of the story will cost him 600 Euros, or about $735 US dollars (based on today’s conversion rates.)

The Board itself is rather interesting and not appearing has consequences:

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB), is an independent statutory body set up under the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003. All personal injury claims in Ireland (except for cases involving medical negligence) must be submitted to PIAB.

PIAB provides an independent assessment of personal injury claims for compensation following road traffic, workplace or public liability accidents. Where the person you hold responsible (the respondent) does not consent to PIAB assessing your claim for compensation, PIAB will allow you to pursue your claim through the courts.

Claims through PIAB are assessed on average within 7 months of the respondent consenting. Personal injury claims through litigation (that is, the courts) can take up to 36 months (3 years).

Claims are assessed using the medical evidence you provide from your doctor and, if necessary, a report provided by an independent doctor appointed by PIAB. The assessment of the damages due is made having regard to the particular injuries you sustained and your circumstances. Guideline amounts for compensation in respect of particular injuries are set out in the Book of Quantum (pdf). PIAB provides useful FAQs about making a personal injury claim.

If the respondent does not agree to an assessment by PIAB or if either side rejects PIAB’s award, the matter can then be referred to the courts.

What that means is that if the shop owner doesn’t pay the money to appear before the PIAB, the case can go to the courts where he will have to show up and will have to pay for representation.

All this is on top of having to pay for the replacement of the door and the CCTV equipment.

In summary, the courts let the three thieves off with a suspended sentence. There doesn’t seem to be a judgement that the thieves pay for the door or the CCTV system.

Instead of telling the criminal to go pound sand on the injuries he caused himself by his own illegal actions, the thief is trying to make the shop owner pay for that as well.

When the system protects the guilty and charges the victims for the actions of the law breaker – even if going through the process to win a victory in front of a board of judge costs the victim money – the system needs an overhaul.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

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