Personal injury working group recommends commission of inquiry

Minister of State Eoghan Murphy
Minister of State Eoghan Murphy

The Government should establish a new commission of inquiry into personal injury claims, a working group has recommended.

The working group on personal injury claims, set up by Minister of State Eoghan Murphy last year, will report back to Cabinet today, The Irish Times reports.

The key recommendation in its report will be the establishment of a commission of inquiry chaired by Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, a retired judge of the High Court.

The commission would examine insurance pay-outs following injuries such as whiplash and compare them with awards in other jurisdictions.

It follows concerns over the rising cost of car insurance in Ireland.

However, the report will also warn that there is “no silver bullet which will result in an immediate drop in insurance premiums”.

Sinéad Carroll
Sinéad Carroll

Writing in Irish Legal News last year, Sinéad Carroll, partner in the litigation department of Cantillons Solicitors in Cork, said it was “worrying” that reviews of pay-outs appeared to be “a push to reduce compensation awarded to innocent victims”.

Ms Carroll added: “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.”

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