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Friday 20 September 2019

Demands for reform as average award for whiplash claim hits €20,000

Stock photo: Depositphotos
Stock photo: Depositphotos
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

REVELATIONS about the size of whiplash payouts have prompted demands from the Government to speed up reforms of the compensation system.

Figures from the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) show that the average award for a whiplash claim was just short of €20,000.

This is around five times higher than the payouts for whiplash in Britain.

The PIAB study, of the amounts it awarded in the first six months of this year, found that 70pc of all motor claims relate to whiplash.

The awards cover amounts paid out for the pain and suffering resulting from road traffic accidents, with a much smaller proportion of the total award made up of special damages, which covers medical costs and loss of earnings.

PIAB said that women tend to get more generous amounts awarded to them than men.

Some 4,500 awards made in the first six months of 2018 were considered for the PIAB study.

It comes after the Government-appointed Personal Injuries Commission found that the average amount paid out in this country for whiplash is almost five times higher than for similar injuries in England and Wales.

The Alliance for Insurance Reform, which is made up of businesses and charities, said the revelations of the high levels of awards being paid out by PIAB meant there was greater urgency for reform of the compensation system.

The Government has set up a working group on insurance reform which is headed by Junior Finance Minister Michael D’Arcy.

Peter Boland of the Alliance for Insurance Reform said the PIAB report once again highlights that whiplash injury payments in Ireland are sky-high.

“What is equally startling is that in commentary subsequent to the launch of today's PIAB report, the PIAB acknowledges that there ‘no definitive answer’ as to why this enormous disparity exists.”

Mr Boland said PIAB points out that there is no data on what insurers are settling for privately. This meant we continue to be in the dark about what is happening with over 70pc of claims settled that way, he said.

“We are now awash with reports and are well aware of the issues to be addressed to get serious insurance reform in place. So the focus must be on the Government and the pace at which key reform legislation passes through the Oireachtas.”

And Insurance Ireland, the industry representative body, said the new PIAB data highlights the need for insurance reform.

Chief executive of Insurance Ireland Kevin Thompson said:  “This 2018 data further highlights the urgent need for a legislative response to high whiplash costs.

“We have an agreed course of action for the Judicial Council, when established, to produce guidelines on appropriate levels of compensation in Ireland similar to what exists in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.”

He said what is needed now is a timeline for the Judicial Council Bill so the opportunity for reform of high whiplash costs is not missed and we deliver a sustainable and predictable personal injury compensation system.

Former High Court president Nicholas Kearns warned in September that compensation for personal injury claims in Ireland was among the “most generous in Europe” with a high risk of abuse because the risk of prosecution for fraudulent claims was “virtually zero”.

Online Editors

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