In July of this year it was reported that the average award in personal injuries cases has dropped by about 50 per cent in the last two months following the introduction of new guidelines. The report from the Personal Injuries Assessment Board showed that the guidelines have had an impact with the latest figures showing that 78 per cent of awards were €15,000 or less now, compared to some 30 per cent last year.
The new Personal Injury guidelines came into force in April 2021 after being drafted by a judicial committee and approved by a vote of the Judicial Council. Earlier this month it was reported that the average award in personal injuries cases assessed by the Personal Injuries Board dropped by about 50 per cent in the last two months following their introduction. The report from the Personal Injuries Assessment Board showed that the guidelines have had an impact with the latest figures showing that 78 per cent of awards were €15,000 or less now, compared to some 30 per cent last year.
However, a series of constitutional challenges to the new guidelines have been launched. So far in July, two cases have been filed in the High Court in which declarations are sought that sections of the Judicial Council Act are unconstitutional. A further case seeking similar declarations is expected shortly.
One case is for a woman who suffered an undisplaced fracture in her foot after falling on a public footpath and brought a High Court case aimed at overturning the adoption of new personal injuries guidelines. The action follows an assessment she is entitled to general damages of €3,000 which, she claims, is insufficient. The injury should attract damages of between €18,000-34,000, she claims.
In June 2019, her lawyers submitted a claim to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). At the time, she claims PIAB was required, when assessing her application and making an award, to have regard to the general guidelines in the Book of Quantum to the amounts that may be awarded or assessed in personal Injury claims.
She rejected the assessment of €3,000 as insufficient, claiming she has to pay her legal fees out of that award and that it does not compensate her for the injuries. She also claims the assessment amounted to an error in law by PIAB and was in breach of fair procedure.
It is too early to judge the full effects of the guidelines on level of awards assessed or their effect on insurance company premiums. The results of the current and future cases challenging the recent assessments will have significant implications for these cases, either way.
NB – This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff LLP, whose numbers can be found on our website www.nfg.ie, or email email@example.com.