Payouts for whiplash to be tied to severity of injury under crackdown
A standardised scale measuring the severity of whiplash injuries is to be introduced to bring greater consistency to personal injuries awards.
The move was recommended in the first report of the Personal Injuries Commission, which detailed how awards for certain categories of claims in Ireland are much greater than in the UK.
Recommended awards for minor neck injuries can be up to €19,400 in Ireland compared with just €7,200 in the UK, while awards for severe neck injuries can range between €76,000 and €139,000 here, compared with just €59,974 and €119,638 across the water.
The report said whiplash accounted for a much greater proportion of claims here than in other EU countries such as France and Germany.
It said the Injuries Board estimated around 80pc of all motor injury claims relate to soft tissue injuries commonly described as whiplash.
The commission, chaired by former High Court president Nicholas Kearns, was established by the Government in response to concerns over spiralling insurance costs.
In its report, it called for the introduction by the middle of next year of an internationally recognised grading scale for soft tissue injuries previously developed by a task force in Canada. This is intended to bring greater consistency to the size of awards and reduce disputes over the severity of injuries, which can greatly add to legal costs.
The new guidelines will also be linked to future editions of the 'Book of Quantum', the guide referred to by the Injuries Board and the judiciary when deciding on the size of damages.
The report did not focus in great detail on compensation award levels, but said work would be done by the commission in future reports to benchmark awards levels internationally.
However, it stated comparisons indicated less severe injuries in Ireland tended to attract higher levels of damages than in England and Wales, a difference which got less pronounced as the severity of the injury increased.