Awards for minor whiplash injuries rise 9% in 10 years

Personal Injuries Assessment Board data shows awards for back injuries fell

The biggest decrease in insurance awrds was recorded for minor jaw soft-tissue injuries, which fell 68 per cent to €11,000.

The biggest decrease in insurance awrds was recorded for minor jaw soft-tissue injuries, which fell 68 per cent to €11,000.

 

Awards for minor whiplash injuries rose 9 per cent to €15,700 in the decade up to 2014 but fell by the same percentage for equivalent back and spinal injuries, according to new data published on Wednesday by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB).

The updated book of quantum showed awards for whiplash neck injuries ranged from €15,700 for minor ones that substantially recovered to between €44,600 and €77,900 for severe and permanent.

For back and spinal fractures, the awards decreased by 9.2 per cent to €14,800 for minor knocks but rose 7 per cent to between €52,300 and €92,000 for severe and permanent injuries.

Fractures

Awards for minor ankle fractures increased by 55 per cent to €54,700 with minor lower leg fractures rising by 42.8 per cent to €49,400.

The biggest decrease was recorded for minor jaw soft-tissue injuries, which fell 68 per cent to €11,000, while there was a reduction for equivalent elbow soft-tissue injuries of 55.3 per cent to €9,200.

The new data shows that 35 groups of injuries moved upwards in value with the same number either declining, standing still or changing only marginally.

Whiplash makes up between 70 and 80 per cent of all claims, while motor accidents account for about three-quarters of actions.

PIAB said the values were reflective of the prevailing level of damages in the market and the movements would not have an inflationary effect on the cost of claims.

In the year to date, PIAB has received 15,222 applications for claims, the same level as last year wit the level of award, on average, being flat across the board.

The data is based on figures for 51,000 closed personal injury claims in 2013 and 2014 and represents the first update since 2004. It refers to general damages for pain and suffering, and does not include legal costs, loss of earnings or medical fees.

Accidents

The book is used as a guide for those involved in accidents to determine what level of damages they might receive for an injury, while judges must have regard to the data in cases that go to court.

PIAB chief executive Conor O’Brien said the updated figures should have a “stabilising effect on award levels” although he conceded that they did not provide a “silver bullet” to the current increases of up to 40 per cent being pushed through by motor insurers.

“If it’s used by everybody settling claims, it will bring certainty and consistency to awards and hopefully bring downward pressure on premiums in the longer term,” he said.

Mr O’Brien said the the guidelines should ensure the level of damages was “more predictable and consistent” through the compensation system.

High Court president Mr Justice Peter Kelly said the new book would provide “important data” to those making awards or agreeing settlements in personal injuries cases.

“While all cases are considered individually, judges will find the revised book of quantum very useful in informing decision-making in relation to the value of damages,” he said.

Additional injury types

The data was compiled by Verisk Analytics and is more granular in detail than its predecessor. Additional injury types were added to the mix, including concussion, partial finger amputations, and clavicle injuries.

PIAB assesses claims for road-traffic accidents, workplace incidents or public liability injuries. All personal-injury claims that are not settled directly by insurers must legally be submitted to PIAB.

Having not updated the book of quantum for 12 years, PIAB now intends to refresh it every three years.