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'Stark multiples': Personal injury payouts here 4 times higher than in the UK

A new report recommends urgently taking action to address the level of payouts in personal injury claims.

Image: Shutterstock/Albina Glisic

PERSONAL INJURY PAYOUTS in Ireland are a “stark multiple” of the awards paid out in other countries, according to the latest report from the Personal Injuries Commission.

Action is urgently needed on the drafting of new judicial guidelines for personal injury claims, chairman Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns stated in the second and final report from the commission

Taking appropriate action now would help to achieve a “greater level of consistency in Ireland in the assessment of general damages”, with payout claims for whiplash here 4.4 times higher than in the UK. 

Reacting to the report, Insurance Ireland CEO Kevin Thomson said it is clear that personal injury compensation awards here are “dramatically out of kilter internationally”. 

The Alliance for Insurance Reform, meanwhile, welcomed the recommendations in the report but called on the government to take immediate action to implement them.

The recommendations include a “judicial recalibration” of the Book of Quantum’s existing guidelines.

In regard to soft tissue injuries, it advised that any person who sustains one should receive timely medical attention to “improve patient outcomes and lead to downward pressure on costs associated” with these injuries.

Suitable strategies should also be developed to assess exaggerated and fraudulent claims, the report recommends. It suggested the set up of an Irish Garda Fraud Investigation Bureau, similar to what exists in the UK to detect insurance fraud.

Judge Kearns wrote: “Irish society is presented now with an important opportunity to consider an appropriate rebalancing and recalibration of Irish awards, both in the context of their relative values to each other and comparatively to other jurisdictions.”

The average claim for soft tissue injuries in Ireland was found to be €19,862, which is far greater than Canada, Germany and Australia, as well as the UK. 

Thomson added: “The Commission’s finding that Irish compensation awards are a ‘stark multiple’ of awards for the same injury in the UK raises societal questions about what is affordable and what is sustainable. Ultimately, only government action can prevent these costs getting even higher.”

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Sean Murray

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