Economic growth spurs 6% rise in personal injury claims

Irish Examiner – July 25, 2016

Economic growth in Ireland was the main factor in a 6% increase in claims by people seeking compensation for personal injuries last year.

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) recorded 33,561 applications last year, in relation to injuries sustained in motor, workplace, and public-liability accidents.

PIAB chief executive, Conor O’Brien, described the increase in claims as “modest,” saying they were to be expected, given the increase in economic activity, as Ireland returned to growth.

The board claimed the level of awards in 2015 had remained steady, with a 1% increase in the average award, which was €22,878.

“The figure has remained stable for the past seven years,” Mr O’Brien said.

The average time for processing claims last year was just over seven months — within the statutory deadline of nine months.

Total compensation paid out was €268.4m, arising out of 11,734 awards. The highest payout last year was €368,927 and the lowest was just €50.

The highest was a record payout of €282.2m, in relation to 12,420 awards, in 2014. PIAB’s administration costs amounted to 6.5% of payout levels.It is the second-highest level of compensation and number of awards since the PIAB’s establishment in 2004.

The majority of cases related to soft-tissue injury or fractures, or a combination of both.

Three quarters of all compensation cases finalised last year related to motor accidents.

Under legislation, all personal injury claims must be submitted to PIAB, unless resolved at an earlier stage between the parties, although it is open to claimants to initiate legal action, if they are unhappy with the award made by PIAB.

Claimants are charged €45, while respondents pay fees of €600 for PIAB services. Dublin accounted for a third of all awards last year, with 3,786 claims finalised.

The number of compensation claims made by Dubliners is 20% higher than might be expected based on population.

Cork had the second-highest number of awards last year, with 1,149 — down from 1,233 in 2014.

The figure is almost 12% less than might be expected, given its population size.

The county with the disproportionately highest number of claims was Limerick, which accounted for almost 8% of all awards in 2015, but has just over 4.2% of the national population.

Kilkenny had the lowest number of claims, on a proportional basis.

Amid concerns about increasing insurance costs, Mr O’Brien called for data on personal-injuries claims, by all stakeholders, to be published, to show trends, costs, and timelines for settlements.

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