Whiplash Compensation Claims Higher in Ireland then the rest of Europe

Ireland currently experiences a much higher rate of whiplash than in most other European countries, according to the findings of the Personal Injuries Commission.

The Personal Injuries Commission was established in January 2017 to examine personal injuries claims with a particular emphasis on the proliferation of soft tissue and whiplash claims.

Car insurance costs increased by 70% in the three-year period between 2013 and 2016. It is believed that exaggerated or fraudulent claims are behind for this sharp increase.

However, the Personal Injuries Commission believe that setting up an independent medical panel to assess cases of whiplash would interfere with a claimant’s rights, so it is not recommending that course of action.

Alternatively it calls for the establishment of a uniform approach for medical staff dealing with whiplash injuries. At present, there is no specific accreditation required or benchmark standard for a doctor wanting to complete a medico-legal report on a personal injury claim in Ireland. In essence, it states that doctors should adopt a standardised approach to diagnosing, treating and reporting on soft tissue injuries, which are mostly whiplash related.

In particular it recommended that the Quebec Task Force Whiplash Associated Disorder grading scale should be implemented by medical professionals reporting on relevant injuries. This scale is based on the severity of symptoms and associated physical indicators. It states “Training and accreditation in soft tissue reporting is agreed as being the best practice requirement for those wishing to complete relevant reports”.

The belief is that a self-testing element by the injured party should also be adapted to assess compensation and damages.

The commission, chaired by Judge Nicholas Kearns, also called on insurance companies to publish details on the incidence of whiplash injuries. This could be an integral part of the National Claims Information Database currently being developed by the Central Bank of Ireland.

Justice Kearns stated that such dissemination of information on whiplash injuries would improve the personal injuries compensation environment in Ireland by encouraging ‘an objective standard’ for reviewing whiplash injuries. He added that, going forward, reports will look at comparative systems and bench marking compensation award levels globally.

He stated: “Preliminary findings suggest that the frequency of soft-tissue injury claims in Ireland would app-ear to be significantly higher than a lot of other European countries. It remains to be determined whether this could be a contributing factor in terms of claims frequency or exaggeration.”

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