More detailed guidance on way for injury awards
Injuries Board wants to collect nationwide information on settlements made out of court
The first update to guidelines on personal injury awards in more than a decade is close to publication and is expected to give much more detail on the appropriate compensation for a wider variety of injuries.
The guidelines should provide enhanced certainty on the awards that insurers and claimants can expect for injuries such as whiplash.
It is hoped they will better inform court awards for personal injuries claims, which have attracted criticism in recent years. They will be published later this year.
The so-called 'Book of Quantum' is a general guide to the compensation that should be awarded for various types of injuries, depending on their severity.
The state body set up to assess personal injuries claims - the Injuries Board - must refer to the publication in all of its evaluations for personal injury claims and the courts must have regard to it.
The guidelines have regularly come under criticism over the years. Some judges have described them as outdated and ill suited and have ignored them.
The Book has not been updated since the Injuries Board was set up in 2004. It is now being reformulated by an independent organisation on behalf of the Injuries Board.
The update will be based on awards handed out in 2013 and 2014.
The new Book will go into more detail than before, specifying awards for a wider variety of injuries and degrees of severity.
The Book is likely to be updated more regularly from now on. In other European jurisdictions, reviews every three years are common.
The Injuries Board is also attempting to collect information on out-of-court settlements for personal injuries claims.
About 40pc of personal injuries claims which could be resolved through the Injuries Board are settled privately between injured parties and insurance companies or without recourse to the courts.
The nature of private settlements ensures there is no data available on the amounts agreed. But talks are now under way with insurers in an attempt to collect data on these settlements.
Insurers regularly blame hikes in premiums on rises in the cost of claims. However, the Injuries Board said last September that its own data on claims was at odd with the scale of premium increases taking place in the market.
Motor insurance has climbed the fastest of late, rising by 30pc in the past year. Insurers are warning of further increases to motor premiums in 2016.
"If it is costing insurers more to process personal injury claims, due to influences outside of our model, or if there are systemic issues at play, such as claims inflation or the re-emergence of third-party costs, this needs to be brought into the public domain" said Maurice Priestly, who at the time was interim chief executive. The Injuries Board's permanent chief executive is now Conor O'Brien.
"The first step to addressing any such issues is to have all relevant information available so any problems can be understood," said Priestly.
Speaking during the week, Dorothea Dowling, former chairwoman of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board, called for a statutory inquiry into increases in the cost of premiums in comparison to the cost of claims.
Sunday Indo Business