The Personal Injuries Assessment Board has released its annual report for 2020
The total number of applications received by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (“PIAB”) fell by 16% in 2020 to 26,009 as a result of Covid-19, although the report indicates that the average claim takes between 11-12 months from date of accident to PIAB application. Therefore there may be even more significant reductions in 2021.
As a result of the decline in claims, the total value of awards made by PIAB in 2020 decreased by €70 million from €275 million in 2019 to €206 million. Only 8,587 awards were made by PIAB in 2020 compared with 11,527 in 2019.
Impacted by Covid-19, claims now take 9 months from point of consent to award, where previously they would have taken 7.8 months. This is mainly due to disruption to PIAB’s independent medical examinations wrought by the pandemic.
70% of the awards related to motor liability, 17% to public liability and 13% to employer’s liability. The overall average award was €24,026 with the average motor liability award being €22,357.
Respondents consented to 55% of assessments and 51% of awards were accepted by both parties. A respondent might not consent to an assessment where liability is in dispute or there are causation issues.
Soft tissue injuries constitute over 85% of injuries in motor claims. The value of the highest accepted award in 2020 across all claims was €546,525 and the lowest was €100. 56% of the awards were under €20,000.
Dublin had the highest number of awards per county in 2020 with 34% followed by Cork with 10.5% and Limerick with 7%. Leitrim and Roscommon, 0.5% and 0.9% respectively, had the least.
The Central Bank’s second Private Motor Insurance Report (2020) found that the average compensation payment made by PIAB was €22,206 with legal costs of €791 bringing the total average award for cases under €100,000 to €22,997. The average award via litigation was €23,801 but when costs are included this increased the total claim cost to €39,692.
The 2020 report shows that PIAB’s acceptance rate has dropped from 58% in 2019 to 51% in 2020. It will be interesting to see what the acceptance rate is in 2021 as the Personal Injury Guidelines took effect in April 2021. All claims in 2020 were assessed under the old book of quantum and compensation for many categories of injury, mainly at the lower end of severity, has been slashed under the new guidelines.
PIAB is leading the way in implementing the new guidelines. However, we have yet to see judicial interpretation of the guidelines. At present cases assessed or where proceedings were issued before 24th April 2021 continue to be dealt with under the book of quantum. It will take some time for cases under the new guidelines to reach hearing.
PIAB is currently subject to a number of judicial reviews as a result of the new guidelines, on issues ranging from the amount awarded to whether or not claims should have been released prior to the introduction of the new guidelines.
PIAB recently advised the government that awards have fallen by 50% under the new guidelines but omitted the acceptance rate. There is likely to be a significant decline in the acceptance rate, which may continue into 2022. PIAB has indicated that they expect that the new guidelines should ultimately improve acceptance rates but, in our view, this may be optimistic, certainly in the short term. It is likely that the new guidelines will result in an increase in litigation until it becomes clear how they are being applied by the judiciary.
The government recently held a public consultation aimed at reforming PIAB to strengthen and enhance their remit. Legislative proposals are likely to emanate from that perhaps towards the end of the year or the start or 2022. A mediation service is under consideration as the government seeks to substantially reduce legal fees associated with injury litigation.
It is likely that there will be a considerable degree of uncertainty in the remainder of 2021 and throughout 2022 until the new guidelines become embedded in Irish litigation.
Should you require any assistance in relation to claims in Ireland or the operation of PIAB, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com and 01 691 7393.