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Where in the country are the most personal injury claims awarded?

Most personal injury claims go through PIAB and it has released a geographical breakdown of the awards made last year.

BASED ON POPULATION, Longford is the county in Ireland with the highest proportion of personal injury awards made, with Limerick in second and Louth in third.

That’s according to figures from the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB), the State agency which assesses personal injuries outside the courts system.

PIAB designates awards based on the Book of Quantum – the guidelines on awards made based on the personal injury incurred in a case – and all personal injury claims go through PIAB unless they’re settled early between claimants and insurers/respondents.

In its Annual Report for 2018, PIAB said that it received 33,371 applications last year, and made 12,112 awards over personal injury claims. The vast majority of this was motor liability (70%) over public liability (18%) and employer’s liability (12%). 

The average award across such cases was €24,649 with the highest award totalling €908,749. 

The geographical breakdown shows that, by far, Dublin was the county with the most personal injury awards in 2018 with 4,077. 

Awards in the greater Dublin region – encompassing nearby counties Kildare, Meath and Wicklow and 40% of the population in Ireland – accounted for 45% of the overall awards across the country in 2018. 

Given Dublin, Meath and Kildare in particular are so densely populated and have high numbers of car ownership, according to CSO stats

However, according to the statistics, it is actually Longford with the most awards per head of population with 162 awards made in 2018. Despite having less than 1% of the population of Ireland, Longford accounts for 1.4% of the overall number of awards.

So, while it didn’t have anywhere near like the highest number of overall awards, Longford is the county with the highest proportion of personal injury payouts last year compared to the number of people that actually live there. 

awards by county % of awards by county Source: Personal Injuries Assessment Board

Next was Limerick with 6.5% of the overall awards across the country, or 768. And Louth came third with awards by head of population on 3.8% of awards.

While Limerick and Louth both had more actual injury awards given than Longford, they had less awards per head of population than Longford, according to PIAB’s figures.

So in effect, Limerick (with roughly 4% of the population of Ireland) had 6.5% of the overall awards last year, making it more likely to have an injury award payout there than most other counties. 

Dublin was 4th and Sligo rounded out the top five with 1.5% of awards. 

The counties that had the least amount of personal injury awards by head of population were Wicklow (5th), Galway (4th), Donegal (3rd), Wexford (2nd) with Kilkenny the county with the least amount of awards per head of population.

The overall amount of money paid out by PIAB in 2018 was €298.55 million. This compared with €315.04 million paid out in 2017.

Similarly, according to recent data from the Courts Service, the total value of awards for personal injury cases in the Circuit Court increased by almost €4 million last year to €23.5 million.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty told TheJournal.ie these figures again demonstrate that the “spin” from the insurance industry about claims “doesn’t stand up”. 

“The compo culture doesn’t exist here in the way the industry would like us to believe,” he said. “They are trying to exaggerate it and put the burden on a large section of policy holders, increasing their premiums.”

Last week, TheJournal.ie reported that Insurance Ireland recently held a meeting Minister of State Michael D’Arcy in which the minister sought a guarantee that premiums could be reduced given the efforts being made by government and elsewhere to bring down the value of personal injury awards. 

According to minutes of that meeting from the Department of Finance, Insurance Ireland stated “that it would be difficult to persuade insurers to expand their risk appetite to what they consider to be loss making areas in advance of any tangible change in award levels”.

TheJournal.ie asked Insurance Ireland if insurers factor in statistics on the number of claims/awards made on a geographic level when calculating premiums.

A spokesperson replied: “At a policyholder level insurers use a combination of individual rating factors.

Such factors can include age, type of driving licence, engine size and location, including where the car is kept such as a driveway, garage etc, but they will vary by insurer depending on the market segments on which individual insurers focus and the claims experience of individual insurers. Each insurer will have their own assessment methodology and Insurance Ireland would not have sight of that.

With reporting from Michelle Hennessy

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Sean Murray

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