The number of claims made to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board decreased last year, mainly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, while there was also a reduction in the level of awards paid out to claimants.
The latest annual report by Personal Injuries assessment board – the state body which assesses personal injury compensation – shows the number of applications decreased by 16% last year with just over 26,000 claims.
At the same time, the total compensation awarded is down €70m to €206m.
The reduction in claims was mostly due to the lower levels of accidents as a result of far fewer people being on the roads, attending workplaces or meeting together in public areas due to the pandemic.
PIAB said the reduction in claims should impact insurance costs significantly.
It also said that following the introduction of the new Personal Injuries Guidelines earlier this year, awards are already 50% lower in recent months.
“Claims costs are reducing significantly due to lower volumes and lower values and this new environment is ripe for premium reductions,” PIAB chief executive Rosalind Carroll said.
“Our claims data shows claims numbers are down sharply, while we also know awards are already 50% lower in recent months, as new award guidelines take effect,” she said.
“All parties involved need to fully support the new guidelines, so that acceptance of PIAB awards and consenting to fully use the PIAB process increase,” she added.
Ms Carroll said that despite significant progress on awards guidelines and insurance reform, low acceptance rates of awards and consent rates remain a problem.
“Though just 2% of claims ever make it through the courts and though average awards by PIAB and through litigation are broadly similar, awards are being needlessly rejected resulting in huge legal costs and delays,” she said.
“The new personal injury guidelines should ultimately improve acceptance rates but solicitors and insurers also have a key role to play by accepting awards that will not materially change in value through costly litigation,” she added.
Today’s report shows that motor liability claims continue to be the largest category of claims in Ireland.
PIAB said it received 14,137 motor claims in 2020 and it issued 6,058 awards in relation to those claims. The average award in this category was €22,357.
It noted that 85% of claims in this area related to soft tissue injuries, one of the areas where there has been significant decease on values of awards under the new guidelines.
Employers Liability claims for workplace injuries are the smallest of the three liability categories and PIAB received 5,049 Employers Liability claims in 2020 and issued 1,103 awards in that category.
The average award in this category was €30,558.
It said that injuries in the workplace can often involve more severe and life-changing injuries, ,which result in higher average awards.
Meanwhile, Public Liability claims are those which arise where the claimant suffers an injury on a premises or in an area owned by another organisation or person, where the claimant believes that person or organisation is responsible.
The number of Public Liability claims received by PIAB in 2020 was 6,823 and the number of awards made in that category was 1,426.
The average award in this category was €26,065.