Since 2021 there have been changes to personal injury compensation in Ireland with the introduction of the Personal Injury Guidelines. This was carried out by the government in response to the general public and the insurance industry’s criticism of the level of compensation being awarded by the courts for personal injury claims.
The new personal injury guidelines themselves where very much led by the judges of the various courts having voted to bring them in. These new guidelines have replaced the Book of Quantum which was the older guide that judges should have referred to when deciding compensation. It is important to know that these are guidelines and judges are not forced to follow them but judges must set out reasons if they are not following them within the facts of a particular case. The courts will rightfully keep its independence and discretion when it comes to deciding compensation. The guidelines must be reviewed every three years.
Certain types of injuries have been the public focus of the new personal injury guidelines such as soft tissue type injuries of the neck and back (whiplash claims). Depending on the severity of these injuries the guidelines cut the compensation by as much as 50 percent. The range in the new guidelines from minor to most severe neck injury is €500 to €150,000. Clearly there is a huge range depending on the severity and most neck injuries will likely fall into the lower €1,500 to €20,000 bracket.
Back injuries under the new guidelines range from €500 to €140,000 and the most severe which fall short of paralysis lie within the region of €150,000 to €300,000.
The new Personal Injury Guidelines has had a dampening effect of personal injury compensation pay-outs in Ireland which should satisfy the court of public opinion and also the insurance industry and hopefully they will pass on whatever savings are made to consumers in reduced premiums but recent evidence does not support that idea of lower premiums. The new guidelines do allow greater transparency and consistency in the level of compensation awarded which is something to be welcomed and will bring greater certainty to personal injuries litigation.
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