Since 6th March, 2021 the level of damages attributable to injuries arising from an incident are clearly defined in the Personal Injuries Guidelines. The maximum compensation that can be awarded under Irish Law for General Damages is capped at €550,000.
General Damages is the term used to describe compensation by way of settlement or court award for pain and suffering as a result of a specific injury or multiple injuries arising from an incident.
Here our Caroline McLaughlin, Partner discusses some of the most frequent injuries encountered and how such injuries are valued by reference to the Personal Injury Guidelines.
Types of Personal Injuries
Depending on the severity an injury to the shoulder can be a very significant injury affecting someone’s ability to work and interfere with quality of life. The most severe injury may result in paralysis and damage to the brachial plexus nerve. A dislocated shoulder is regarded as a serious injury under the Personal Injury Guideline together with a fractured humerus and rotator cuff injury. Moderate shoulder injury includes a frozen shoulder where there is limitation of movement and symptoms persisting for some years following an incident. Minor shoulder injuries included soft tissue injury and a simple fracture of the clavicle (collar bone). Under the Personal Injury Guidelines shoulder injuries are valued as follows:
Severe €100,000- €150,000
Serious €40,000 – €75,000
Minor €500 – €12,000
Personal Injuries Guidelines for Psychiatric Damage
Under Irish Law damages are only awarded for a recognised psychiatric injury. Whilst grief is compensated by way of a fatal injury action the guidelines helpfully clarify that upset, distress, grief, disappointment and humiliation are not compensated. They also set out criteria which will assist in classifying the injury as either Severe, Serious, Moderate or Minor. The guidelines treat separately Post Traumatic Stress disorder under the same classification system of Severe, Serious, Moderate or Minor. Under the guidelines such injuries are valued as follows:-
Psychiatric Damage generally
Severe €80,000- €170,000
Moderate €15,000- €40,000
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Severe €60,000- €120,000
Serious €35,000- €80,000
Moderate €10,000- €35,000
Minor €500- €10,000
Personal Injuries Guidelines for Neck Injuries
As with all categories of injury, a Neck injury can range from a very significant to a minor injury. Severe injury under this category can include neck injury with incomplete paraplegia, permanent injury or a requirement to wear a collar for a considerable period. They also include fracture or damage to disc in the cervical spine resulting in severe disabilities. Serious neck injuries include those as a result of fracture or dislocation that may require spinal fusion. Moderate injury includes exacerbated pre-existing injuries and moderate soft tissue injuries. Minor neck injury is often classified as a whiplash injury. Whilst this type of injury can attract negative views those who have suffered an injury of this nature will be aware of the pain and discomfort caused by such injury.
Most Severe €100,000- €300,000
Severe and serious €35,000- €100,000
Moderate €12,000- €23,000
Minor €500- €12,000
Personal Injuries Guidelines for Back Injuries
Back injuries range from the most severe back injury falling short of complete paralysis. Severe back injury includes nerve root damage with association conditions and disc lesions leading to severe conditions and ongoing disability. Moderate injury will include crush fracture of vertebrae, prolapsed disc requiring surgery and damage to disk with nerve root irritation and effecting mobility. Minor back injuries are typically soft tissue injuries These are categorised by reference to the time period within which a substantial recovery is achieved.
Most severe €150,000 – €300,000
Severe and Serious €50,000- €140,000
Moderate €20,000 – €55,000
Minor €500- €20,000
Personal Injuries Guidelines for a Spinal Cord Injury
Injuries involving paralysis are dealt with separately within the guidelines. Noting the catastrophic nature of the injuries when determining general damages for Quadriplegia other factors are taken into account when determining general damages to include, age, life expectancy, extent of residual movement, pain, effect on other senses, psychological effects and effect on familial and other relationships. Similar criteria are considered in respect of Paraplegic with the addition of consideration of the level of independence.
Quadriplegia €400,000- €550,000
Paraplegia €320,000- €450,000
Personal Injuries Guidelines for a Brain Injury
Head injuries are classified on the basis of their severity. Most serve brain damage will result in an individual in a vegetative state. The category of severe brain damage will involve a conscious state but requiring constant care. Serious and moderate covers a range of situations from intellectual deficit requiring constant care to an individual who has made a good recovery but still has poor memory, concentration, mood. Minor brain injuries are described as where brain damage is minimal and is further classified in terms of time period to achieve substantial recovery. The guidelines also provide separately for epilepsy and other epileptic conditions.
Most severe Up to €550,000
Severe €300,000- €400,000
Serious and Moderate €25,000- €350,000
Minor €500- €25,000
Epilepsy €70,000- €180,000
Other epileptic conditions €10,000 – €37,000
If you have questions about any of the issues raised in this article you can contact Caroline McLaughlin, Partner in the Personal Injury Practice Area of Callan Tansey Solicitors, on 071 916 2032.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement