'Immediately people call solicitors before they call doctors' - majority support lowering whiplash damages payouts
THE majority of people support lowering the pay outs for whiplash awards made in court.
Some 70pc of respondents support the introduction of legislation designed to lower the level of awards for minor injuries, according to a survey conducted by AA Ireland.
It comes after recent research found that awards here for minor injuries are almost five times those in England and Wales.
In a survey of 4,000 people, 68.79pc of respondents said they would strongly support reducing awards.
Another 21pc said they would be somewhat supportive of such legislation being introduced.
When asked about compensation for non-whiplash injuries, the survey found that a smaller majority of respondents were in favour of steps being taken to limit court awards.
When asked to exclude compensation for whiplash injuries, 54.74pc of those surveyed stated they would strongly support Government measures designed to lower court compensation pay outs.
A further 28.54pc said they would be somewhat supportive of this approach.
AA director of consumer affairs Conor Faughnan said awards here compared with those in the UK are out of line with the extent of the injuries suffered.
“The bigger problem though is that right across the board whenever an Irish person skims their knee, trips over, has a fender-bender in traffic, immediately people call solicitors before they call doctors.”
He said some people do suffer legitimate whiplash injuries, or much worse as a result of a car accident and these people deserve to be fairly compensated.
“However, we do need to look at steps that can be taken to bring Irish awards in line with international standards,” Mr Faughnan said.
Meanwhile, director of the Alliance for Insurance Reform Peter Boland said his members who deal with the public in the course of business“literally feel besieged by claimants”.
He said there was an urgent need for a Garda Insurance Fraud unit.
He also called on the Government to reduce awards for minor injuries.
It was then necessary for a schedule of reductions that policyholders can expect from reforms to be published, Mr Boland said.
Last July, the Government-appointed Personal Injuries Commission found that awards here for minor injuries are 4.4 times higher than in England and Wales.
Headed up by former president of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, the commission recommended that a judicial council made up of judges should compile guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury.