The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) says that its average award in the first six months of this year was €14,786.
It says that this was 38% below the figure for 2020, when the Book of Quantum was being used to assess awards for personal-injury claims.
In April 2021, the new Personal Injury Guidelines adopted by the Judicial Council came into effect.
According to the latest PIAB report, the falls in awards since 2020 were broadly similar in all three categories covered by the board – motor insurance, public liability, and employer’s liability.
For the first six months of this year, 75% of awards were below €15,000, compared with 30% in 2020.
The PIAB figures show, however, that 48% of awards assessed under PIAB are now being accepted by claimants in June 2022.
This figure has increased substantially in the last year and is now close to the 2020 level of 51%.
Just over 9,000 cases have been assessed under the guidelines since April 2021, with 4,430 of those coming in the six months to the end of June this year.
PIAB received just under 9,000 claims in the six-month period – a considerable decrease on the 13,500 in the same period in 2021.
Motor-cases figure down
The board says that, while there was a jump in claims ahead of the introduction of the new guidelines in April 2021, the volume of claims has not yet recovered to pre-COVID levels.
From April to December 2021, average awards fell by 42% compared with 2020. PIAB says that the smaller drop of 38% this year has been influenced by a small number of very severe injury cases, and a drop in the proportion of motor cases, where awards are generally smaller.
The figures show that the percentage of cases linked to motor insurance has fallen from 70% in 2020 to 65% in the first six months of this year. Public-liability insurance cases now account for 22% – up from 17% in 2020.
The guidelines introduced in 2021 were part of an effort by the Government to bring down insurance premiums, but solicitors have expressed concern about the focus on damages.
"Injury victims have seen their compensation slashed, and with minimal return to consumers. In addition, the massive 58% drop in the number of claims from 2019, the last pre-COVID year, is extraordinary," said the Law Society's personal-injury expert Stuart Gilhooly SC.
"This is not pandemic-related, and is most likely the result of consumers being unable to access legal advice, or simply not bringing a claim due to the grossly diminished compensation available" he stated, adding that insurance companies were benefiting from a “gradual erosion of victims’ rights”.
The Personal Injuries Resolution Board Bill 2022, which aims to facilitate an increase in the number of claims being settled through the board, is currently going through the Oireachtas.