Whiplash tops claims in car personal injury cases

Drivers with whiplash-related injuries represented 79% of all motor cases. Similarly, injured passengers represented 69% of the cases.

The average PIAB award for a whiplash case was €18,581 in general damages (pain and suffering), plus €1,456 in special damages (medical expenses, loss of earnings, and other costs).

The statistics, based on an analysis of around 4,500 awards, are published today by the board, an independent State body that assesses personal injury compensation claims.

The first report of the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) had recommended that the board produce information on the incidents of whiplash injuries.

The PIC found personal compensation payments for soft tissue injuries in Ireland were running at 4.4 times higher than those in Britain.

The PIAB’s analysis was based on the World Health Organisation system for categorising injuries, known as ICD-10.

The average whiplash award for a male was €18,126 in general damages, plus €1,460 in special damages.

For a female, the average award was €19,016 in general damages, plus €1,456 in special damages.

The award for a driver was €19,066 in general damages and €1,734 in special damages. It was €17,026 in general damages and €857 in special damages for a passenger.

Numerically, the awards were split almost 50/50 between males and females.

Claimants in 55% of whiplash cases received a total award of between €10,000 and €20,000 in total damages.

In 88% of whiplash cases, the claimant received a total award of under €30,000.

However, the average total award for injuries not classified as whiplash was higher than the whiplash average at €27,386.

Such awards are likely to be higher because the injuries involve fractures or other more serious injuries.

The average total award for all motor cases in the study was €20,472 in general damages and €2,326 in special damages.

A new judicial council that will compile guidelines for personal injury awards is expected to replace the Book of Quantum published by the board, a move that is supported by the PIAB.

The Government is confident that proposed legislation establishing the council will be passed by the end of the year.

PIC chairman, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, said asking the judicial council to compile guidelines for personal injury awards was the best approach to take. He said that, over the years, compensation awards had “got out of hand”.

The PIC recommended that the judicial council, when established, would produce guidelines on appropriate levels of damages in Ireland similar to what exists in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

A PIAB spokesperson said the commission’s recommendations represented an opportunity for a step-change in improving the personal injuries compensation system in Ireland.

“PIAB hopes that the positive momentum towards achieving a sustainable and predictable personal injury compensation system in Ireland will continue,” he said.

PIAB makes its awards in line with current levels of personal injuries compensation in Ireland.

PIAB has assessed more than 130,000 cases since it was established in 2004 and over 60% of claimants have accepted its awards.

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