25 March 2021

Personal Injuries Guidelines

How do awards levels in the new Personal Injuries Guidelines compare to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board’s (PIAB) Book of Quantum which the Guidelines replace?

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Personal Injuries Guidelines

On 6 March 2021 the Judicial Council met and adopted the “Personal Injuries Guidelines”.

Here we look at the new award levels in comparison to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board’s (PIAB) Book of Quantum which the new Guidelines replace.

There has being widespread media coverage since they were published, along with a lot of voices pushing for the insurance industry to reduce premiums going forward.

Minister McEntee brought the proposals to the Cabinet for approval and obtained agreement on Tuesday, 9 March 2021 for their implementation.

The next step is for the “Guidelines” to be formally enacted. This is going to be done via the Family Leave Bill 2021. Minister McEntee expects the new “Guidelines” to take effect within weeks.

Categories

There are 12 categories covered in the Guidelines, some of which were not covered in the previous Book of Quantum.

1. Injuries resulting in foreshortened life expectancy

2. Injuries involving paralysis

3. Head injuries

4. Psychiatric damage

5. Injuries affecting the senses

6. Injuries to internal organs

7. Orthopaedic injuries

8. Chronic pain

9. Facial injuries

10. Non-facial scarring and burns

11. Damage to hair

12. Dermatitis and other skin conditions

The following considerations will affect the level of the award

1. Age

2. Reduction or effect on life expectancy

3. Nature and duration of treatment – level of impairment

4. Impact on work

5. Interference with quality of life/on family

6. Psychological effects

7. Prognosis

Note, there are a number of new categories in the Guidelines such as Psychiatric Damage, Chronic Pain and Scarring and Burns.

What do the new Guidelines mean?

The new “Guidelines” will be adopted by the PIAB and the Courts.

When the Courts are making an award, brief submissions must be made as to where and within the relevant bracket the claimant’s injuries should fall. Based on the above, the Judge will make an award but where it departs from the Guidelines, they must state the reasons for such departure.

Based on the PIAB 2019 Annual Report, 88% of all PIAB awards were below €38,000.

Based on the Court Services 2019 Annual Report, the average Court award was €47,477.

Similar to the Book of Quantum, the new Guidelines split the majority of categories into 4 brackets:

1. Severe

2. Serious

3. Moderate

4. Minor

The new Guidelines provide much better figures in relation to serious injuries under each category.

The following is an analysis of the awards for various types of injuries comparing PIAB Book of Quantum in 2016 with the new Guidelines.

Analysis of injury awards by type
Analysis of injury awards by type

You will see from the above figures that most of the minor categories are down substantially, with the biggest difference in the minor ankle category being 63% lower than the previous top end figure.

It would appear the biggest reductions are at the lower end of each category.

Therefore, as the majority of PIAB awards are below €38,000 and the average Court award is just under €47,500, the majority of claims will fall within the lower end of each category and this is where the biggest reductions apply.

It will be interesting to see how these new guidelines are implemented and as we go forward a much clearer picture will be available as to where each injury falls, ultimately resulting in a cost saving as the value of each case will be known much earlier.

Michael Whelan

Head of Casualty

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