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INJURIES BOARD ANNUAL REVIEW 2012
Board Warns of Threat to Competitiveness
if Emerging Claims Culture not addressed
Operating Highlights 2012:
- Compensation Awards up 3.9% to €218m
- Claims volumes up 4.7% or 24% since 2007
- Motor claims up 6.7% or 33.5% since 2007
- €600m cumulative savings from Injuries Board
Personal injury claims increased by 4.7% in 2012 and by almost one quarter (24%) since 2007 according to an Annual Review for 2012 undertaken by the Injuries Board. The Board assesses personal injury claims and makes awards relating to motor, employer and public liability accidents, without the need for litigation. The increase was driven by motor claims which increased by 6.7% in 2012 and by one third over the past five years.
Commenting, Patricia Byron, CEO of the Injuries Board said: “The steady but consistent increase in claims volumes over the past five years is a real concern at a time when our roads have never been safer and we have fewer people at work. The trend coincides with a significant increase in promotion and advertising by claims handling intermediaries.
“Last year, the Injuries Board raised concerns that specialist claims-farming firms were promoting a claims culture that could result in higher insurance premiums for consumers and business and a decline in competitiveness. We need to learn lessons from the UK market, where claims handling services are promoted heavily and whiplash claims have increased by 60% since 2006.
“We believe that a regulatory gap has emerged whereby solicitors are restricted from promoting their services yet claims handling firms can do so with impunity. The upcoming Legal Services Bill presents an opportunity to address an emerging claims culture by extending restrictions on advertising to claims handling firms and by introducing strict powers of enforcement and sanctions for non-compliance by all intermediaries” Ms Byron said.
By law, personal injury claims (with some minor exclusions set out in Statute) must come to the Injuries Board for assessment regardless of whether the claimant has legal representation or not. Direct claimants can have their claims assessed for a refundable fee of €45. In assessing claims the Board makes no distinction between a direct applicant and a claimant who pays an intermediary the equivalent of up to 10%, or even more of the value of the award. In 2012 the average assessment period was 7 months, compared with 3 years through litigation.
2012 Operational Summary:
o Injuries Board data shows that total compensation awarded by the State body increased by 3.9% to €217.9 million. The average award in 2012 was €21,502, with the highest being €697,495.
o Three quarters of awards (75%) were for injuries from road traffic accidents while the remainder were split between workplace (8%) and public place (17%) accidents.
o Motor claims increased by 6.7% in the period, though many of these were of lower value.
o The volume of new claims (excluding 641 once-off public liability claims related to DuPuy hip replacements) increased by 4.7%. As DuPuy cases remain in dispute these cases were promptly released to litigation in the best interest of claimants.
o Consistent with reduced numbers at work, work related claims reduced by 1%
o County Limerick had the largest number of awards as a proportion of population (see Table A) with County Kilkenny having the lowest number of awards per head of population (see Table B).
o Since year end, the Injuries Board reduced its fee to respondents (person/entity being claimed against, typically an insurance company) by 30% from €850 to €600.
o Since its establishment in mid 2004, the Injuries Board has facilitated total savings exceeding €600 million relative to the comparable litigation costs attaching to personal injury claims prior to the establishment of the Board. This has been achieved without impacting the value of awards to claimants.
The Board also noted its concern that the volume of serious injuries occurring as a result of road traffic collisions (‘RTC’s) in Ireland is grossly understated. In a submission to the Road Safety Authority (RSA), the Board has highlighted an opportunity to enhance data sharing and classification between the Board, the HSE, the Gardai and the RSA.
*Excluding 641one-off DuPuy hip replacement claims
Ends Date: Tuesday 26th March 2013
InjuriesBoard.ie: Murray Consultants Limited
Stephen Watkins Pat Walsh
Tel.: 01-4634536 / 087-6477350 01 – 4980300 / 087 2269345
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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