Personal Injuries Guidelines
What are the new Personal Injuries Guidelines?
The Personal Injuries Guidelines were published by the Judicial Council which is a body composed of all judges in Ireland. They set new guideline levels for personal injury compensation awards in Ireland.
The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, announced the commencement date of the Personal Injuries Guidelines: Saturday 24 April, 2021.
The new guidelines from the Judicial Council will change the amounts of General Damages to be awarded by the Courts and by PIAB.
That will help bring about greater consistency across personal injuries awards. The guidelines will support greater use of the independent, transparent, fair and efficient service provided by PIAB.
The Personal Injuries Guidelines deal with a wide range of injuries in terms of General Damages, which are the amounts awarded for pain and suffering in relation to an injury where someone else is at fault. They do not change Special Damages, which are costs like medical or travel expenses or compensation for loss of wages.
How will these new Guidelines work?
The Personal Injuries Guidelines are a new set of personal injury compensation guidelines that will replace the Book of Quantum in all personal injury claims following the commencement date. As PIAB and the Courts will consistently award damages in line with the new Guidelines, it should reduce the likelihood for claims to go to the lengthy and costly litigation process, and instead support the greater use of the PIAB service which has far lower processing costs and is far quicker*
The new Personal Injuries Guidelines must be used by PIAB and the Courts in awarding compensation if a person successfully pursues a personal injury claim. If PIAB or the Courts do not follow the guidelines in any case, they must give reasons.
PIAB is the independent statutory body which fairly assesses claims. From the commencement date of April 24, PIAB will assess personal injury cases in line with the new Guidelines.
When do they come into effect?
The new Personal Injury Guidelines were approved by the Judicial Council in early March 2021. Legislation was passed to bring the Guidelines into effect and the Guidelines apply to all cases assessed by PIAB after the commencement date of April 24, as announced by the Minister for Justice.
I currently have a claim going through PIAB. What do these new guidelines mean for someone currently making a claim or someone against whom a claim is made?
Where a claim is assessed before the commencement date of the new Guidelines (24th April), it will be assessed based on the Book of Quantum. Where a claim is assessed on or after that date, it will be assessed based on the new Personal Injuries Guidelines. The date of assessment will be confirmed on the Notice of Assessment letter.
What about where Court proceedings are commenced on or after 24th April?
Where a claim is assessed prior to the 24th of April 2021 any subsequent proceedings arising out of the rejection of the assessment will be based on the Book of Quantum.
Where a claim is assessed on or after the 24th of April 2021 any subsequent proceedings arising out of the rejection of the assessment will be based on the new Personal Injury Guidelines.
How do the new Guidelines affect claims made in the future?
The new Guidelines will be used by both PIAB and the Courts to assess compensation amounts in personal injury claims.
The new guidelines will bring greater transparency and consistency to personal injury awards. They will reduce the overall levels of awards in Ireland and bring them into line with awards in other countries. This is seen as an important step in delivering fair, consistent and reasonable compensation to claimants and bringing down the high cost of insurance in Ireland.
Do these new Guidelines mean lower awards for personal injury claimants?
The Personal Injuries Guidelines reset award levels for Ireland from the date they become operative and for a significant number of injuries the new levels are substantially lower than previous levels, while they are higher in a small number of categories. The new guidelines also have more detail on compensation amounts with the inclusion of a broader range of personal injury types.
The new guidelines provide a consistent framework for personal injury awards and will ensure that all claimants have access to fair, transparent and consistent compensation if they have suffered a personal injury.
What happens if I do not wish to accept my PIAB award after the introduction of these new Guidelines?
A claimant who does not wish to accept a PIAB award can decide to go into the litigation process under the current situation, and that does not change with the new guidelines.
The new guidelines for personal injury compensation are the same for awards made by the PIAB and the Courts. The PIAB system processes compensation claims faster and with far lower costs than through costly litigation. In fact, the latest Central Bank report* found that on average where it takes 2.9 years from an accident to deliver compensation to a claimant through PIAB, the same process through litigation/Courts takes 4.7 years. Add-on costs in the PIAB system are a fraction of those in litigation.
Why have the Personal Injury Guidelines been introduced?
These new personal injuries guidelines have been introduced as part of measures to reform the insurance sector and bring down the cost of insurance for consumers and businesses alike. This is because the cost of personal injury claims has been found to be a significant part of the overall cost of providing insurance cover. In addition, there are major costs and time delays in claims going into litigation, so the guidelines will avoid the need for expensive legal processes.
The purpose of the Personal Injuries Guidelines is to ensure there are consistent guidelines which are followed by all involved in awarding compensation and which are more in line with those in other countries.
More consistent awards should encourage people to use to use the PIAB service, which is far cheaper and quicker than litigation with legal costs in PIAB averaging just 4% of awards, whereas litigation legal costs are over 60% of awards, according to Central Bank research*.
The guidelines are one of the measures in response to the work of the Personal Injuries Commission, the Cost of Insurance Working Group, and the Government Action Plan on Insurance.
*Source: Central Bank of Ireland National Claims Information Database Private Motor Insurance Report 2 – 2019 figures for average claims under €100,000, table 9 and table 11.
Disclaimer: As with all information on this website, every effort has been made in the preparation of this material, however no responsibility whatsoever is accepted for any errors or omissions and it does not constitute advice.