For the last few years we’ve seen a growing debate in Ireland over the amount of damages that have been awarded by judges in personal injuries cases. As usual, there are two sides to the story.
An increase in insurance premiums (particularly motor insurance premiums) means that a lot of people are keen to see a reduction in the damages awarded on the basis that higher damages equals higher premiums.
On the other hand, you have those advocating for the injured party. Damages are awarded to compensate them for an injury they suffered that was not their fault. If their injury means that they face ongoing medical problems, or if they are unable to continue playing a sport they love, then they should be adequately compensated for this interruption to their enjoyment of life.
At the moment, the amount of damages awarded are based on the Book of Quantum which sets out how much an injured party is entitled to, based on the injury suffered. Each injury is given an approximate value that is used to determine the final damages figure. You can access the Book of Quantum here.
Last year, the Government set up a consultation group to look at the issue. The damages awarded in Ireland were compared to the sums awarded in other countries for similar injuries. The public were asked to make submissions and a set of new guidelines was prepared. Judges would be expected to follow these guidelines in future personal injuries cases.
The Judicial Council, which reviews developments in the legal system, has been discussing the proposed new guidelines over the last few weeks. Initially there was some opposition to them from the Council’s members but they have now voted to accept the guidelines and they will now apply to any cases that have not yet been assessed by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board.
Now that the guidelines have been approved, a process is being started to introduce the necessary legislation that will formally put them in place and it’s expected that the judges will have to adhere to them in a few weeks’ time.
It’s hard to see at this point how the guidelines are going to change the amount of damages that will be awarded in personal injuries cases and the results will only begin to be seen over the next few months.
That said, the introduction of these guidelines will make the future of personal injuries awards something of an unknown in the short term. It’s always better to act sooner rather than later and this is very much the case right now before the awards system starts to change in a meaningful way.
If you have been injured and think that you could be entitled to compensation, then why not complete the form below and we’ll get back to you to discuss the matter.
Note: In contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.