In a bid to expedite the resolution of personal injury cases and alleviate the burden on our courts, the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) has undergone a substantial transformation. These changes, ushered in by the Personal Injuries Resolution Board Act 2022, aim to streamline the claims process, curtail fraudulent activities, and ultimately reduce costs for insurers. As of September 4, 2023, a series of pivotal modifications have come into effect, reshaping the landscape of personal injury claims.
A Shift in the Winds: Changes Effective as of September 4, 2023
- Mandatory Medical Reports: A significant alteration mandates that all claimants, irrespective of legal representation, must furnish a medical report when making a claim to PIAB. This crucial addition ensures that every case begins with a clear understanding of the claimant’s injuries and their extent.
- Identification and Signature Requirements: To combat fraudulent claims, PIAB now demands claimants to provide their PPS number or other identification, even when represented by a solicitor. This serves as a protective measure against bogus assertions and strengthens the credibility of claims.
- Detailed Incident Descriptions: Transparency is key in the new framework. Claimants are now obligated to include a comprehensive description of the incident. This enhancement accelerates the assessment process by providing a comprehensive overview from the outset.
- Consequences of Incomplete Applications: Incomplete applications will not be processed by PIAB, putting claimants under pressure with respect to statutory time limits. The focus is on expeditious and thorough submissions.
Building on Progress: The Process Enhancements Already in Motion
Already, three significant measures have been implemented:
- Deemed Offer of Tender: If a claimant proceeds to court after rejecting a PIAB assessment and receives an award lower than the initial assessment, the respondent is deemed to have made an offer of tender. This means the claimant may not recover their legal costs and could be held responsible for the respondent’s costs from the date of assessment. It encourages fair and reasonable settlements.
- Psychological Injury Claims: PIAB now has the authority to handle claims solely related to psychological injuries. This extends the board’s reach to provide support for a broader spectrum of personal injury cases.
- Extended Claim Retention: PIAB can now retain claims for an additional two years when a long-term prognosis is pending, provided both parties consent. This allows for a more comprehensive assessment, potentially reducing the need for protracted and costly litigation.
What Lies Ahead: Anticipated Changes
Further transformations are on the horizon, including the introduction of a mediation service. This addition will offer claimants the option to resolve their claims through mediation, assessment, or a combination of both, with PIAB having nine months to assess the claim if mediation is chosen. Parties may also be invited to consider mediation, provided both parties consent.
Moreover, PIAB will be renamed the Personal Injuries Resolution Board, reflecting its expanded mandate and commitment to resolving personal injury cases more efficiently.
While it may take time to witness the tangible impact of these new measures in practice, the changes to PIAB’s framework hold the promise of significant benefits for insurers. With a more streamlined, transparent, and efficient process, the resolution of personal injury claims is poised for a transformative shift that benefits all stakeholders involved.