Final Report of the Personal Injuries Commission

Update by Carrie McDermott, MDM Solicitors
20 September 2018

The final report of the Personal Injuries Commission was published on 18 September 2018. The Commission, chaired by Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, was established following the Report of the Cost of the Insurance Working Group, published in January 2017.

The Commission noted:
1. There is a high risk of abuse of the claims system in Ireland because the risk of prosecution for fraudulent claims is “virtually zero”.
2. Awards for soft tissue injuries in Ireland were in excess of four times greater than those in the UK, averaging €17,338 in Ireland compared to €3,984.

The Commission carried out a wide-ranging comparison of care not cash compensation, including countries as disparate as Spain and Canada. The Commission also considered the introduction of more nuanced forms of insurance products to provide for telematics (or ‘black box’) cover.

Following on from its first report, published December 2017, the Commission has now made ten further recommendations:

1. A Judicial Council be requested by the Minister for Justice and Equality to compile guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury
2. The Judicial Council Bill 2017 be moved through the Oireachtas.
3. The Law Reform Commission review the Commission’s findings as part of the LRC’s report into proposed legislation to cap damages awards.
4. Persons who suffer soft tissue injury receive timely, appropriate, and effective treatment as part of a standard treatment plan to improve patient outcomes, and lead to downward pressures on costs associated with soft tissue injuries.
5. Where an Insured deals directly with a claimant, no offers of settlement or payment be made until a medical report is first obtained.
6. Claimants must provide prompt notification of any personal injury claim to ensure that a proper investigation of the accident circumstances can be undertaken by a defendant.
7. The establishment of a Garda unit similar to the UK Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department to police fraudulent claims.
8. That insurers step up anti-fraud activity through appropriately trained personnel and the further development of technological means.
9. The adoption of a standardised, internationally-recognised injury coding system by insurers.
10. The establishment of a national medical research study into the prevention and management of soft tissue injuries.

For more information, contact Carrie McDermott, Partner, MDM Solicitors