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'It's time we called out the insurance industry': Courts figures show drop in number of personal injury cases

Awards in medical negligence cases in the High Court were also down last year.

THERE WAS A drop in the number of personal injury cases taken last year and the value of awards in the High Court have fallen almost 20%, according to new court figures.

There was a total of 22,049 new personal injury cases initiated across all of the courts – 8,889 in the High Court, 12,193 in the Circuit Court and 967 in the District Court – a slight decrease from 22,417 in 2017. 

The Courts Service annual report, launched today, reveals the value of the average award per personal injury case at High Court level dropped 23% last year.

Awards in medical negligence cases in the High Court were also down from €99 million in 2017 to €91.4 million in 2018. There was a drop of 47% in the average award per case, which is now just over €1 million.

While there has been a noticeable decrease in the value of higher awards in both medical negligence and personal injury cases, there has been a slight increase in the smaller awards at Circuit Court and District Court level. 

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 said these new figures again demonstrate that the “spin” from the insurance industry about claims “doesn’t stand up”. 

“We did a comparison between Ireland and Britain and it shows that there are twice as many personal injury claims in Britain as in Ireland and still they pay less for insurance,” he told TheJournal.ie.

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

Last week leading insurance companies were quizzed by the Oireachtas Finance Committee about why they are not reporting fraudsters to gardaí.

The firms told the committee that 20% of personal injury claims are suspected of being fraudulent, but representatives could not provide figures for cases reported to gardaí.

Doherty said while there are people making fraudulent claims, he believes the industry has inflated the figures in order to increase premiums.

“The industry is also settling some of those fraudulent claims and then that’s being passed onto business and individuals.”

Tomorrow the committee will question garda management about the level of reporting from the industry in relation to insurance fraud and about the need for a dedicated unit.

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