Legislation to reform how personal injury claims are dealt with in Ireland has been published.
The new bill, which could become law before the end of the year, aims to enhance and reform the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB).
It seeks to introduce a new mediation system, to allow claims for psychological distress, extend the amount of time injuries are examined and reduce fraud – by introducing proof of identity and disclosing information to Gardaí.
The bill – the Personal Injuries Resolution Board Bill 2022 – was published by Minister of State Robert Troy, whose portfolio comes with responsibility for the PIAB.
Troy said the legislation will establish a new and enhanced Personal Injuries Resolution Board and represents a “significant step-change” in Ireland’s personal injuries framework.
The Longford-Westmeath TD said the bill, once enacted, will increase the number of personal injury claims settled through an enhanced Resolution Board and reduce the expense and time associated with personal injuries litigation.
Troy is also proposing to amend part of the act to encourage early resolution of claims and minimise costs.
“Increasing the statutory functions of the Board has been a priority for me and the Bill will enable it to undertake its work in an enhanced manner,” Troy said.
“The new PIRB will enable more claimants and respondents to avail of an enhanced personal injuries resolution board but crucially to have their claims resolved through mediation also, thereby reducing the need to go to court.”
The Bill provides that where the claimant proceeds to litigation an assessment that has been accepted by a respondent will have the status of an offer of tender payment.
In circumstances where the court award is not greater than the PIAB assessment the claimant will not recover their costs and will generally also be liable for the respondent’s legal costs.
The PIAB was established in a bid to fairly, promptly and transparently compensate the victims of accidents involving personal injuries in a cost-effective manner.
It assesses compensation claims arising from personal injuries sustained as a result of a motor, workplace or public liability incidents.
The PIAB’s recently published annual report revealed that personal injury awards were €118 million lower in 2021 compared to the last full year before the pandemic.
The average processing time of a claim through PIAB was 10.5 months and the rate of awards accepted by both parties was 44% – which was down from 51% in 2020.