A new bill being put forward in autumn is expected to shake up personal injury claims, as part of a much broader movement. According to the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Robert Troy, this new bill will update guidelines, bringing older systems up to date with more efficient standards.
According to the existing system, personal injury claims are primarily managed by the Person Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). Acting as an independent body, the PIAB handles claims compensation for the workplace, traffic, or public liability accidents. Built to expedite just outcomes, the PIAB has long acted as a necessary part of the government’s claims system, though some argue that its foundation is growing outdated. Outside of this system, citizens can also turn to the courts if they feel the governmental path is ill-suited.
Current statistics from the Central Bank place the average time of assessment from the PIAB around 1.8 years after claims are made. Taken through the courts, resolutions average 4.7 years. Also incurring average costs of €562 and €18,2090 respectively, the disparities here are significant.
Injuries run through the PIAB systems are guided by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Acts 2003 and 2019. Compensation is then determined by the official Book of Quantum or the Personal Injury Guidelines documents, depending on if the claim was made before or after the 24th of April, 2021.
Though effective in many instances, existing systems have been criticised as inefficient, costing time and money that might be avoided through more modern standards and infrastructure.
The New Bill
The new personal injuries resolution board Bill 2022 aims to amend the 2003 and 2019 bills to increase the number of injuries managed through the PIAB. In this way, the extensive time and financial costs of going through the court systems could be mitigated, and more satisfactory resolutions could be reached.
More specifically, this updated bill would introduce the implementation of mediation services, more stringent safety measures, and better definitions for the discretion available to the courts.
Mr Troy states that the introduction of mediation services will be key thanks to its established reputation in other systems like the WRC and the financial ombudsman. With mediation, the belief is that the PIAB will be able to manage wholly psychological claims, which were previously out of their purview and difficult to manage without going through the courts.
To discourage and prevent service manipulation and fraud, the new bill will also require proof of identity on application, and make it a crime to provide misleading information. It is yet unknown what effect this might have on those who are already untrustworthy of such institutions, though going through the courts is still an option in these instances.
Combined with greater clarity of what is possible through the courts and PIAB, improved understanding and confidence are hoped to drive engagement from both sides of the system. Improved power and capabilities for the PIAB should lead to more robust and trustworthy systems internally. For Irish citizens and workers, faster turnaround and lower costs should be a superior choice to the court’s alternative.
In simple terms, the changes make it more likely and obvious that the courts and the PIAB will result in the same outcome, so there will be fewer reasons to take the longer and more expensive route.
As Part of Greater Reform
This new bill for personal injury claims is just one in a long line of a recent set of changes designed to overhaul Ireland’s existing insurance system. Built off the Action Plan for Insurance Reform published in December 2020, personal injury claims are part of 66 set actions.
Aimed at making Ireland’s insurance section more competitive, user-friendly, and better at supporting enterprise and job creation, these changes are some of the most drastic Ireland has seen in decades. As of mid-2022, more than 80% of the actions in the Action Plan for Insurance Reform are being delivered, the rest still making progress in their earlier stages.
Even early on, data from the Central Bank has shown positive development such as a 20% reduction in the cost of claims for motor insurance policies. Now focusing on legislative reforms, the overall effect on the Irish economy and legal system is shaping up to be a positive one.