The Government, we are told, has published the first Action Plan for Insurance Reform, with actions across Government to make Ireland’s Insurance sector more competitive and consumer-friendly, supporting enterprise and job creation. There are also plans to reform Personal Injury Awards.
The Plan sets out 66 actions to bring down costs for consumers and business; introduce more competition into the market; prevent fraud and reduce the burden on business, community and voluntary organisations. Anything which protects business and community organizations must be encouraged but we must be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water.
From the perspective of the victims of accidents, the Plan will:
• Replace the Book of Quantum with new guidelines on the appropriate level of personal injury awards
• Enhance the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB)
• Examine the duty of care to strengthen waivers and notices to increase protections for consumers, businesses, sporting clubs and community groups.
• Monitor whether personal injury award levels need to be capped
• Reduce insurance fraud including placing perjury on a statutory footing, making the offence easier to prosecute
Anything which reduces Insurance Fraud is to be welcomed. There are however already very strong legal provisions in existence under Sect 26 of the Civil liability & Courts Act 2004. For further information, see my BLOG “Dishonest Personal Injury Claims get Dismissed” published 24th September 2017:
Therefore, what we don`t need is more legislation to deal with Fraudulent Claims. We simply need to ensure that our existing legislation is enforced AND SEEN TO BE ENFORCED!
Do we really need to punish the Victim?
Every time there is talk of Insurance Reform, it is usually accompanied by directives that the level of Awards must be reduced and also that the involvement of solicitors must be reduced by strengthening the powers of PIAB.
In my Guide “Do I need a Solicitor when filing a PIAB Personal Injury Claim”
I point out many instances where PIAB is not set up to protect the interests of the accident victim. Such instances include the following examples:
• PIAB will not advise you at the appropriate time of your obligations despite complex legislation
• PIAB will not advise you on the correct respondents against whom you should make your Claim
• PIAB will not ensure to investigate all relevant facts prior to completing your Claim
• While there are instances where the involvement of PIAB speeds up the settlement of Claims, there are more instances where the involvement of the PIAB process can actually delay the settlement process by more than a year.
Penalizing the Victim
At Chapter 19 of my Guide, titled “What if I reject the Assessment? Will I be penalized?”, I refer to the changes implemented by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2007, just 3 years after the enactment of the original PIAB Act, when the Government inserted a new Section 51B into the original Act to state that if you, the claimant, rejected the PIAB Assessment (but the Respondent had accepted it) and if subsequently through the Court system you obtained a Court Award of compensation which is less than the amount of PIAB Assessment then you could be liable for all of the Costs of the subsequent Court Proceedings.
Bear in mind that this occurs in circumstances where PIAB states that you do not require a Solicitor to guide you through the PIAB process!
But how could a Claimant make a considered evaluation of the risks if he did not consult a solicitor?
Enhancing the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board
When we read now in the Government Plan about how the Government proposes to enhance the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board why do I get a sneaking suspicion that this enhancement will at the same time result in a further reduction of the rights of the victim?
The Government`s Plan can be accessed at:
For further information and guidance on Personal Injury Claims contact:
Brian Morgan, Morgan McManus Solicitors
Ph. No. 003534751011
*In contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement