Blog: Government to set up commission of inquiry into personal injury claims



Sinéad Carroll
Sinéad Carroll

Sinéad Carroll, partner in the litigation department of Cantillons Solicitors in Cork, responds to reports the Government is to set up a commission of inquiry into personal injury claims.

We have today seen media reports that a Commission is to be set up into Personal Injury Claims. The reasoning for this is apparently “an attempt to bring insurance pay-outs following car crashes into line with international standards”.

While a review into Personal Injury Compensation levels is welcomed, it is worrying that this review appears, in reality, to be a push to reduce compensation awarded to innocent victims. The outcome, it would seem, is already predetermined.

The suggestion undoubtedly comes against a backdrop of claims by the motor insurance industry that escalating motor accident compensation awards are adding to the costs of policies. However, there is an absolute lack of data identifying precise causes for the soaring motor insurance premiums. Despite numerous calls being made of the insurance industry, they have refused to release transparent data backing up their bold assertions. Unfortunately, the State - instead of pushing the insurance industry - is now targeting the innocent, hard-pressed victim.

There is a serious question to be raised as to the appropriateness of the State in commissioning such an inquiry in conjunction with the well-oiled insurance machine. The insurance industry continues to be allowed to make these assertions without actually being forced to give details. Yet victims, their injuries and levels of compensation are to come under scrutiny. Why is the inquiry not focusing on the insurance industry?

Plaintiffs, as it is, have an uphill battle to receive compensation and motorists are being hammered with rising insurance premiums. Rather than carrying out a detailed analysis into the claims of the insurance industry, the injured “ordinary” victims are being penalised.

They are, also, being compared to victims compensated in other countries but only, of course, those countries with lower compensation rates. In making such comparisons to date, there is no mention of countries with higher award levels. Nor is there any mention of the often far more expeditious nature of personal injury claims in other countries.

It is hoped that if this Commission is to be set up, it is done so with fair terms of reference and will look not only at decreasing but increasing awards.

Clearly, any such Commission and Inquiry should also seek an input from victim organisations, patient organisations and/or Plaintiff lawyers.

  • Sinéad Carroll is a partner in the litigation department at Cantillons Solicitors. You can view her profile here.