Judge to rule on woman’s challenge to €11,000 award under new personal injury guidelines

Other challenges pending over alleged lack of reasons for awards under guidelines

A judge will rule on Friday on a challenge by a hospital catering assistant to a proposed €11,000 damages award under controversial new guidelines for soft tissue injuries suffered after an oven fell on to her.

The award was made to Tara Wolfe by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) in June 2021 under guidelines slashing awards for minor personal injuries by up to 50 per cent which came into effect in April 2021 after being approved by a majority of the Judicial Council.

Ms Wolfe’s High Court challenge against PIAB centred on her claim the board failed to give adequate reasons for its proposed award of €11,000. It was heard last month by Ms Justice Miriam O’Regan who will give judgment on Friday. Several other challenges brought on reasons grounds are in the pipeline.

Last month the High Court rejected a separate challenge, taken against PIAB and various State parties, concerning the constitutionality of the guidelines.


Bridget Delaney, from Dungarvan, Co Waterford, took that case after PIAB assessed damages under the new guidelines for an ankle fracture at €3,000 when, she claimed, it should have been assessed under the previous guidelines for between €18,000 and €24,000.

In her action, Ms Wolfe (40), of Donard Drive, Dublin, represented by Feichin McDonagh SC and Eileen Barrington SC, with Brendan Hennessy and John O’Regan, sought orders quashing the PIAB assessment of June 25th, 2021, requiring the board to reconsider her application and provide written reasons concerning its use and application of the guidelines.

The case arises from an crash at the Mater Misercordiae Hospital in Dublin on December 26th, 2018. Ms Wolfe claims, while cleaning a heavy oven in the hospital kitchen, it fell on her due to not being properly secured to the wall, she had to hold it and push it back, and support its weight for about one minute before eventually managing to push it from her torso. She claimed she suffered soft tissue injuries to her left shoulder, lower back and right leg.

She instructed Rogers Law Solicitors to make a claim against the Mater alleging negligence and failure to provide a safe place and system of work.

PIAB, with reference to the guidelines, assessed the dominant injury as a minor back injury involving a substantial recovery between one to two years.

Ms Wolfe claimed that, without any other reasoning, the general damages claim was assessed for €11,000. She alleged it was not apparent how PIAB concluded the dominant injury was a minor back injury, and how any regard was had for her having a pre-existing back condition.

The guidelines, it was argued, mandate a more detailed analysis and the provision of detailed reasons.

PIAB denied its reasons were inadequate or that its assessment was not in accordance with the guidelines and the principles governing an award of damages at law.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times