€1bn kitty set aside for claims against the State
ALMOST €1bn has been set aside to meet the cost of paying compensation claims taken by members of the public and public servants against the State.
And the State Claims Agency (SCA) has revealed it is currently handling 4,472 legal actions of which more than 45pc relate to medical negligence.
When established in December 2001, the SCA expected to handle 1,000 cases a year.
However, since being delegated to handle child sexual abuse cases in July 2002, Army deafness claims in September 2005 and the management of HSE claims in January 2010, the number of cases has soared to more than four times that estimate.
The agency handles cases on behalf of a range of public authorities including health enterprises, government departments, the gardai, the Irish Prison Service and schools.
There was a 43pc increase in 2010 in the number of claims falling under the employer-liability, public-liability and property-damage categories.
Between 2008 and 2010, 3,576 of these cases were settled for €35.5m.
Gardai involved in road-traffic accidents while on duty made up "a significant" proportion of the non-medical claims against the State, according to the SCA.
Current figures show the SCA is handling 2,478 public-liability, employer-liability or property-damage cases, and €111.5m has been set aside to meet these claims.
A breakdown of the 2,478 non-medical claims shows that most cases (29pc) are taken after traffic accidents.
The next biggest category is "exposure to substances or environments" at 21pc followed by "injured by a person" at 16pc.
The category of "exposure to substances or environments" includes victims of child sexual abuse.
The SCA is managing 65 active claims in relation to allegations of abuse in day schools, and 37 active claims in relation to allegations of abuse in residential institutions. Just 10 of these are new claims, however. The majority are historical.
The cost to the State of disposing of 1,994 clinical-negligence cases currently under its management is put at €812m.
Meanwhile the SCA is currently handling five cases involving women who were wrongly told their babies were dead in the womb.
Three of the five cases it is currently managing occurred in 2008, one in 2006 and another in 2009.