Whiplash accounts for 70-80% of all personal injury claims

The Irish Times – Oct, 18 2016

A new set of guidelines on the level of damages awarded for injuries has been criticised by the insurance industry for not benchmarking the figures against international norms.

The data published by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board is based on figures for 51,000 closed personal injury claims in 2013 and 2014. It represents the first update of the “book of quantum” since 2004.

The figures show awards for whiplash neck injuries ranged from €15,700 for minor cases in which there was substantial recovery to between €44,600 and €77,900 for severe and permanent injuries. Whiplash accounts for between 70 and 80 per cent of all claims.

Overall, the new data shows 35 groups of injuries moving upwards in settlement values, with the same number either declining, standing still or changing only marginally.

Insurance Ireland chief executive Kevin Thompson said while publication of the new book was welcome, it was unfortunate it did not internationally benchmark awards.

“Insurance Ireland is calling for a timeframe for the publication of the next book and a commitment to internationally set benchmark awards – otherwise it will simply reinforce rising claims costs.”

The Small Firms Association said the review was a missed opportunity. “The new book merely reflects the level of awards that have been made in recent years, rather than assessing what would be an appropriate and fair award for specific injuries,” said its chairman, A J Noonan.

Judiciary input

Minister of State for Financial Services Eoghan Murphy said he wanted to see more formal input from the judiciary for future editions of the book.

“It is important that the information is understood as a guide for assessing potential awards and not as a target or ‘the going rate’, or even some sort of a new baseline for awards,” he said.

“It would also be helpful if the judiciary had greater input into the drafting of the book of quantum and I would welcome that input.”

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