Changes planned to stop people ‘gaming’ personal injuries system

The Irish Times – May 30, 2018

Changes are being made to legislation underpinning the Personal Injuries Assessment Board to stop people “gaming” the system.

Junior Finance Minister Michael D’Arcy outlined the changes to the Oireachtas Finance Committee. He is in charge of the Government’s taskforce dealing with insurance reform, but he has been criticised over the slow pace of the planned changes.

Although motor insurance premiums have fallen back slightly recently, the cost of insurance remains a concern for many businesses and households, the committee was told.

It heard last week from executives of FBD Insurance that the Personal Injuries Assessment Board was subject to widespread non-co-operation, so claimants can get a certificate releasing them from having to deal with the board, allowing them to go to court instead – where award levels are often higher.

All personal injuries claims have to go before the board initially, with the exception of medical negligence cases.

Mr D’Arcy told the committee claimants were failing to co-operate with the assessment board by not turning up at medicals and failing to provide details on special damages they are seeking. He said the general scheme of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Bill 2017 would address the issue of non-attendance at medicals and failure to provide details.

The purpose of the legislation is to strengthen the operational powers of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board in order to ensure greater compliance with the board’s processes and encourage more claims to be settled through it.

The minister acknowledged there is much criticism of the high level of personal injuries awards in this country.

Mr D’Arcy said the Personal Injuries Commission is undertaking a benchmarking exercise to compare award levels here with those paid in other countries.

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