Legal change to crack down on expensive injury claims
CHANGES to legislation will make it more difficult for those making personal injuries claims to avoid using the low-cost Injuries Board.
Every injury claim has to go through the board but a case can be forced into the courts by failing to co-operate with it.
The board, which is a State body, does not pay lawyer fees and is up to seven times cheaper for settling a claim than going to court.
But only 20pc of claims are settled through the Injuries Board, with 10pc going to court and 70pc settled privately by insurers.
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Innovation Frances Fitzgerald has published a bill which aims to strengthen the low-cost insurance claims settlement model which the Injuries Board provides.
The move is part of a bid to cut the high cost of motor insurance. Premiums costs have shot up by almost 60pc over the last three years.
The Tánaiste said that by encouraging more claims to be settled at an earlier stage, many costs could be taken out of the settlement process and that the savings should ultimately benefit the consumer.
Insurers say claimants, especially those making exaggerated or false claims, avoid using the Injuries Board by failing to co-operate with it.
This is often done by claimants failing to submit a medical report to the Injuries Board.
This allows the case to be heard in court, where award levels are three to four times higher.
Under the proposed legislation, the failure to provide a medical report can form part of defence of the case by an insurer.
Constraints are being put on the introduction of new evidence that was not part of the original Injuries Board claim.
And legal costs may not be paid to those who fail to co-operate with the Injuries Board and subsequently get an award in court, under the changes proposed.
The insurance industry welcomed the changes, but said they did not go far enough.