Posted: September 18th, 2018
Whiplash injury compensation payments in Ireland are, on average, 4.4 times higher than awards for similar injuries in England and Wales.
This statistic was revealed in the Final Report of the Personal Injuries Commission. The report recommends that the Judicial Council should compile judicial guidelines for whiplash injury compensation awards.
The Commission’s finding found that the average soft tissue award is €17,338 compared to just €3,984 for the same compensation award in Britain. Commission chairman Justice Nicholas Kearns commented in his second and final report, that while genuine claimants need adequate compensation, the negative affect of high premiums on businesses and consumers had to be acknowledged.
Justice Kearns said: “The multiple that has emerged in the benchmarking process is so significant that the Commission is satisfied that it calls for a response that is effective and achievable in the shortest time”.
Insurance Ireland said an urgent policy response is required as the cost of the average award is continuing to “spiral” with the average Circuit Court award increasing by approximately 50% from 2013 to 2016 – from €11,941 to €17,722.
CEO of Insurance Ireland Kevin Thompson commented: “It is also clear that the Irish public supports reform as according to a nationally representative poll conducted by Ipsos MRBI in January, 78% of Irish people would support proposals to reduce personal injury award levels.”
However, there was some concern expressed Director General Ken Murphy of the Law Society of Ireland who said that lower damages did not automatically result in lower insurance premiums. He said: “Simply reducing damages takes money away from those who suffer injuries through no fault of their own and puts it in the pockets of the already very profitable insurance companies”.
Posted: December 20th, 2017
The result of report released by the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) shows that the rate of whiplash injury is much higher in Ireland than in most other European countries.
The Personal Injuries Commission, which was set up in early 2017 to review compensation claims with a aim of looking closely at the surge in soft tissue and whiplash claims.
Car insurance costs grew by 70% between 2013 and 2016. Exaggerated/fraudulent claims are being held responsible for this surge.
The Commission reveals in the report that it is of the opinion that establishing an independent medical panel to review occurrences of whiplash injuries would interfere with a claimant’s rights, so it is not calling for that course of action to be introduced.
Alternatively it calls for the establishment of a uniform approach for medical staff dealing with whiplash injuries. Currently there is no relevant accreditation needed or benchmark standard for a doctor who needs to produce a medico-legal report on a personal injury compensation claim in Ireland. The report states that doctors should adopt a standardised method in diagnosing, treating and reporting on soft tissue injuries, of which the vast majority are whiplash related.
The Commission stressed that the Quebec Task Force Whiplash Associated Disorder grading scale should be applied by medical professionals reporting on relevant injuries. This scale is based on the extent of symptoms and associated physical indicators and states that “Training and accreditation in soft tissue reporting is agreed as being the best practice requirement for those wishing to complete relevant reports”.
It is thought that a self-testing element by the injured individual should also be introduced to assess compensation and damages neccessary.
Chaired by Judge Nicholas Kearns, the PIC urged insurance companies to publish details on the rates of whiplash injuries reported. This could be an pivotal element of the National Claims Information Database being developed by the Central Bank of Ireland at present.
Justice Kearns remarked that such sharing of information on whiplash injuries would improve the personal injuries compensation sector in Ireland by encouraging ‘an objective standard’ for examining whiplash injuries. He added that, in future, reports will look at comparative systems and bench marking compensation award levels globally to ensure we remain relevant.
Posted: December 5th, 2016
A judge at the Limerick Circuit Court has awarded a plaintiff €10,000 compensation for exacerbating whiplash symptoms sustained in previous accidents.
In March 2015, the plaintiff – – a thirty-eight year old father of two from Rhebogue in County Limerick – was waiting at a junction by the Thomond Bridge in Limerick when his employer´s work van was struck from behind by a hit-and-run driver. While the plaintiff was reporting the accident to his employer, the negligent driver sped off – hitting the wall in his rush to leave the scene of the accident.
The plaintiff attended his GP´s surgery the following day complaining of aggravating existing neck, shoulder and lower back injuries – injuries he had sustained in several previous road traffic accidents. He also complained of suffering psychological problems as a result of the accident, and is receiving injections to manage his physical injuries.
When the negligent driver responsible for causing the accident had been located, the plaintiff claimed compensation for exacerbating whiplash injuries. However, the negligent driver´s insurance company refused to give its consent for the Injuries Board to conduct an assessment, and the plaintiff was given an authorisation to claim compensation for exacerbating whiplash injuries through the court system.
The case was heard last week at Limerick Circuit Court, where legal representatives for Liberty Insurance – the negligent driver´s insurance company – told Judge James O´Donohue that the plaintiff had made many similar claims in the past. The representatives read out a long list of previous successful injury compensation claims stretching back almost twenty years – including five in which a road traffic accident had exacerbated previous whiplash symptoms.
The judge was also told that the plaintiff was receiving disability benefits for his existing injuries, and was only allowed to work a certain number of hours each week. Commenting that the plaintiff had been “well compensated in the past”, Judge O´Donohue awarded him €10,000 compensation for exacerbating whiplash symptoms and his costs – describing the plaintiff as a “very unfortunate injury prone individual”.