The Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation published The Personal Injuries Resolution Board Bill 2022 on 2nd August 2022.The aim of the Bill is to further reform how personal injuries claims are dealt with in Ireland. Caroline McLaughlin, Partner in Callan Tansey Personal Injuries Litigation Department outlines 5 key amendments in the new bill and the impact they will have on Personal Injuries claims.
Currently personal injuries claims are dealt with by the Personal Injuries Assessment (PIAB). The Personal Injuries Resolution Board Bill 2022 seeks to further extend the functions of PIAB. The new Bill provides for the renaming of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board as the Personal Injuries Resolution Board (PIRB)
The new Bill includes the following amendments to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003-2019 to ensure that the:
1. Mediation will be offered as a means of resolving a claim
This will apply if the parties consent to mediation of the claim. Participation in the mediation is voluntary and a party may withdraw from the mediation at any time prior to the date of completion of the mediation. It remains to be seen how both claimants and respondents embrace this new provision.
2. Personal Injuries Resolution Board will retain claims of a wholly psychological nature.
At present PIAB have a discretion as to whether to assess claims of a psychological nature. As the new Personal Injuries Guidelines now provide for psychological injury this will result in the claims now being dealt with by the PIRB.
3. PIRB will have additional time to assess claims
This will apply where an injury is yet to settle rather than releasing to litigation. This will potentially extend the period for assessment by PIRB by an additional period of 2 years.
4. PIRB will take measures to reduce fraud.
Where a claimant does not have a PPS number, PIRB will seek proof of identity on application. This information will then be disclose to An Garda Síochána to help reduce fraud.
5. PIRB will deepen its analysis and public information roles
The Bill also proposes to amend s54 of the Act to provide that the PIRB:
- collect and publish on its website information in relation to personal injuries claims,
- conduct or commission research studies and analysis on matters relating to functions of the Board
- collect and compile such information and publish any findings it considers appropriate.
- Promote public awareness and conduct public information campaigns in relation to the work of the Board
The Bill also provides that an a person who knowingly or recklessly provides the Board with information which is false or misleading shall be guilty of an offence.
The Minister is also proposing to amend section 51A of the Act to encourage early resolution of claims and minimise legal costs. In practice this proposal will mean if enacted the PIAB assessment will have the same effect as an offer of tender and will be subject to the existing Court rules in relation to same. This means that if a claimant rejects a PIRB assessment and does not achieve a higher award they will be liable for their own costs and the Defendants costs from the date of Tender. Legal advice should always be obtained before making any decisions regarding Assessments.
Further updates will be provided on the progression of the Bill over the coming months.
It remains to be seen what the full impact of the Bill will be. It is hoped as with all reform in this area that the voice of the injured party is taken into consideration. At the core of these cases is an injured person who would prefer not to find themselves facing the gauntlet of having to seek compensation in a system becoming increasingly complicated. Their voice should be at the heart of the debate.
Caroline McLaughlin, Partner in Callan Tansey Personal Injuries Litigation Department, specialises in Personal Injury Litigation including Road Traffic Accidents, Catastrophic Injury, Fatal Injury actions, Accidents at work and public liability claims dealing with applications to the Injuries Board ‘PIAB’, applications to the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland ‘MIBI’ and manages a personal injury caseload at District Court, Circuit Court and High Court level
If you have questions about any of the issues raised in this article you can contact Caroline McLaughlin at our Sligo offce here.