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Why personal injuries claims are plummeting in the High Court

Average personal injury award by PIAB between January and June 2022 was 38% lower than before new guidelines

The sharp decline in the number of personal injuries cases in the High Court is in line with a fall in overall personal injuries claims in the last three years.

The most recent report from the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) last November recorded the total number of claims received by the board in the first half of 2022 was 8,989, down from 13,569 in the first half of 2021.

Of a total 21,410 claims in 2021, many were lodged in advance of the personal injury guidelines coming into effect in April 2021. The PIAB received a total 26,009 claims in 2020 and 31,072 in 2019.

The average personal injury award by PIAB between January and June 2022 was €14,786, some 38 per cent lower than before the guidelines were implemented. The average acceptance rate of awards rose to 48 per cent, up from 36 per cent in May 2021.


There is significant interest in a Supreme Court appeal, due to be heard next month, over the High Court’s rejection of a test challenge to the constitutionality of the guidelines.

That appeal is by Bridget Delaney, from Dungarvan, Co Waterford who sued Waterford County Council over an ankle fracture sustained after she tripped and fell on a public footpath in Dungarvan in April 2019. The PIAB valued her claim under the guidelines at €3,000. She claimed that under the earlier Book of Quantum the injury would have been valued between €18,000 and €34,000.

Because most existing High Court personal injury cases were initiated before the guidelines, there are few decisions to date indicating how judges may apply them. Judges may depart from the guidelines provided they give clear reasons for doing so.

In July 2022, in one of the first cases applying the guidelines, Mr Justice Paul Coffey awarded a total of €60,000 general damages to a teenage girl left with a 12cm white scar on her thigh and moderate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being knocked down by a car as she crossed the road.

The judge awarded €35,000 after finding the PTSD fell within the upper limit of the “moderate” PTSD category of the guidelines. He noted the girl suffered nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks and poor concentration affecting her school performance.

The defendant argued the appropriate value for the PTSD injury was €20,000 while the plaintiff argued it was between €40,000 and €50,000.

Mr Justice Coffey held the PTSD injury fell within the top end of the moderate category because of the potential adverse effects on her Leaving Certificate performance due to her changing from an A student to a D student following the crash. He found the white scar was a minor cosmetic injury but, having noted the girl considered to be a significant disfigurement, he awarded €25,000 for that and for some soft tissue injuries.