What are the new Personal Injury Guidelines?
The Personal Injury Guidelines was published in early March 2021 by the Judicial Council. The Judicial Council is composed of all Judges in Ireland. The aim of these Personal Injury Guidelines is to achieve a greater consistency in awards for Personal Injuries. Therefore, both the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) and the Courts are required to consider the guidelines when making an assessment for damages.
The commencement date was the 24th of April 2021. Therefore, all cases assessed by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board after this date will be subject to the new guidelines. This is extended to any court proceedings issued after this date. However, if the Personal Injury claim is assessed by PIAB before this date, the matter will continue to be assessed based on the old Book of Quantum. This includes any subsequent court proceedings issued that were arising from a rejection of an assessment made by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board.
How will the new Personal Injury Guidelines affect my claim?
It is clear since the introduction of the new guidelines that there has been a dramatic reduction in the value for General Damages. The Special Damages such as medical expenses and loss of earnings are not affected by these new Guidelines. The most significant reductions are in the area of minor injuries. For example, whiplash which is a common injury that arises from a road traffic accident previously was estimated in the Book of Quantum in the region of €15,700 – €19,400 is now estimated in the Personal Injury Guidelines in the region of €500 – €12,000.
Consequently, this has led to a decline in the volume of court proceedings issued in the Circuit Court which covers matters between the value of €15,000 to €60,000 and High Court which covers matters from the value greater than €60,000 and an increase in the amount of court proceedings issued in the District Court which covers matters from the value to €15,000.
Although there is a decline in terms of damages awarded for minor injuries, the Personal Injury Guidelines have increased the cap that was put on general damages for pain and suffering from a catastrophic injury from €500,000 to €550,000.
There is a general criteria that should be considered by the Courts when they are assessing the level of award that they deem appropriate in each category/sub-category of injuries. This includes:
- Reduction in life expectancy;
- Nature and extent of the treatment received; and
- Impact on work and prognosis.
In addition to the reduction in awards granted, the new guidelines provide specific guidance in situations which involve pre-existing conditions and injuries. It has been recommended that Judge’s should only regard the extent and duration to which the pre-existing condition has been made worse. Furthermore, the Personal Injury Guidelines allow for more categories of injuries than the Book of Quantum now recognising injuries such as psychiatric injuries and pain disorders. There are now twelve categories of injuries.
The Court will still have a level of independence and discretion when it comes to making an award. However, a Court may only depart from the guidelines where it can be later justified and an explanation for the reasoning in their Judgement may be requested.
For further information on the new Personal Injuries Guidelines, please follow the link below: