Judges have voted to adopt new guidelines aimed at reducing general damages awards for some personal injuries, particularly minor injuries.
At a meeting on Saturday, a majority of the 166 member Judicial Council voted in support of the guidelines, prepared by the council's Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee (PIGC).
The focus of the guidelines is to ensure awards for lesser injuries are proportionate to the maximum. These new guidelines replace the Book of Quantum, which set general guidelines for the amounts to be awarded or assessed in personal injury claims.
The Book of Quantum is a list of specific types of injury such and in respect of each specific injury gives an indication of the level of compensation that is likely to be awarded in respect of that particular injury.
It was compiled by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) following a review of court judgements.
Here are comparisons of awards in the new Personal Injuries Guidelines with awards under the Book of Quantum.
Catastrophic injuries: quadriplegia and paraplegia and injuries resulting in shortened life expectancy, eg undiagnosed cancers or terminal illness contracted through workplace negligence.
New: Maximum general damages of €550,000
Old: Maximum general damages of €500,000
Simple undisplaced nose fracture with full recovery:
Minor brain damage or head injury:
New: €500–€3,000 where there is substantial recovery within six months and €12–€25,000 where is substantial recovery in two to five years. Affecting factors include the severity of initial injury and pain.
Old: Up to €21,800 for concussion type injury where recovery results in most cases. €34,700–€60,200 for skull fracture with no loss of consciousness/minor head injuries which result in little or any disability.
Old: No figure set, Book of Quantum says several factors need to be considered, including age, occupation, lifestyle.
Soft tissue shoulder injury
New: from €500–€12,000 depending how long it took to make a substantial recovery over a period up to two years.
Old: up to €33,500
Moderate shoulder injuries eg frozen shoulder persisting for some years
Old: from €22,000–€60,000 for moderate sprains caused by a partial tear and where full recovery is expected. From €33,000 – €70,600 for moderate injuries requiring join manipulation, taking longer to recovery with extensive treatment but will a full recovery expected.
Eye: minor but permanent impaired vision in one eye
Old: €22,500 – €45,400
Teeth: Loss of one tooth
New: €3,500–€8,500 for one front tooth. €1,500–€3,000 for one back tooth.
Old: €10,300–€12,700 for loss of one tooth. €7,500–€10,300 for a broken tooth.
Minor back injuries:
New: From €500–€20,000 for back injuries where surgery is not necessary. Amount depends on how long it takes, over a period of some months to five years, to make a substantial recovery. Where a recovery occurs within six months, the award range is from €500–€3,000.
Old: Up to €14,800 for substantially recovered soft tissue sprain type back injuries of the type incurred in motor vehicle accidents or high impact slips/trips/falls. Up to €18,400 for minor soft tissue back injuries where a full recovery is expected. From €21,400 – €34,000 for moderate soft tissue injuries where recovery has been protracted.
Minor neck whiplash/soft tissue injuries:
New: from €500–€12,000, depending how long it takes, on a range from less than six months up to two years to make a substantial recovery.
Old: Up to €15,700 where there has been a substantial recovery. Up to €19,400 where a full recovery is expected.
Minor wrist injuries
New: €500–€3,000 when there is substantial recovery without surgery within six months; €3–10,000 for substantial recovery between six months and two years; €10–18,000 for substantial recovery within two to five years.
Old: Up to €27,800 for soft tissue wrist sprains where a full recovery within a few months is the most common outcome.
Injury or fracture of little finger
New: €500–€7,500 for a little finger injury where grip has remained impaired
Old: Up to €16,600 for simple non-displaced injury that has substantially recovered.
Minor leg injuries: eg simple fracture of femur with no other damage