Claimants shun injuries board for big court awards
PERSONAL injury claimants are snubbing a government scheme established to settle their cases and are turning to the courts for higher compensation.
Some 7,099 new personal injury cases were filed in the High Court last year --an eight fold increase on the 746 filed the year after InjuriesBoard.ie became operational.
And another 6,999 cases were lodged in the Circuit Court.
Formerly known as the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, InjuriesBoard.ie was established in 2004 as part of the reform programme to tackle the high costs, especially legal fees, associated with personal injury claims.
All injury claims, except for those involving medical negligence, now must be submitted to the board for assessment.
But if a respondent does not agree to an assessment or if either side rejects the board's award, the matter can then be referred to the courts.
New figures show people are going to court because they can receive higher compensation awards and get their legal costs if they are successful.
Last year personal injury awards in the High Court ranged from €3,000 to €3.5m, while claimants received up to €86,000 in the Circuit Court.
This compares with the average award by InjuriesBoard.ie, which was €23,163, with its highest single payment totalling €493,902, It bases them on the Book of Quantum, which sets out the ranges of compensation.
Last year Mr Justice John Quirke awarded €1.8m in damages to Chinese student Maggie Yang Yun for back injuries suffered in a car accident in May 2002. This included an award for general damages of €325,000 -- which broke the €300,000 cap set out in the Book of Quantum.
Figures from the Courts Service show that the number of personal injury cases has consistently increased as a result of the difference in compensation.
InjuriesBoard.ie received 25,919 claims last year, but awards were made in just 8,645 cases as many were settled or outside its remit.
David Nolan, a senior counsel specialising in injury claims, said: "People realise that the value of their case is better being determined by a court rather than a civil service quagmire like InjuriesBoard.ie."
A spokesman for InjuriesBoard.ie insisted that previously up to 33,000 claims went through the courts each year and this was now down to 14,000.