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Lung damages award guidelines leap 79% in NI jurisdiction

28 Feb 2019 / personal injury Print

Lung damages award guidelines leap 79% in NI

The Judicial Studies Board (JSB) for Northern Ireland has published its fifth edition of the ‘Green Book’ of personal injuries damages guidelines.

The latest edition provides for a damages pay-out bump of one-fifth of previous figures.

The uptick takes account of inflation rises since the 2013 edition.

The Judicial Studies Committee, chaired by Lord Stephens, had said that it expected practitioners to factor in inflation on the fourth edition 2013 rates.

Retail Prices Index

It found, however, that this was not being done and, therefore, had “factored forward” inflation, applying Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation at its present rate, up to the midline of the next five-year period. 

The new edition figures are made up of:

  • 2013 base figure, plus
  • Five years’ actual inflation to the end of 2018, plus
  • Two-and-a-half years of future inflation to mid-2020. 

The rationale for this approach is that this edition will remain applicable for the next five years.

Concerns have been expressed that this will produce inflation over-compensation for claims resolved in the first half of the five-year period, and under-compensation for those resolved in the second half.

Some injuries have increased much more substantially and go far beyond inflation.

The top bracket for chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive airway disease has increased from £28,000 to £50,000 (a staggering 79%).

Pleural plaques have been assessed with a range of £3,500 to £17,500. 

Minor soft-tissue injuries

A number of minor neck and back injury categories have seen the ‘starting point’ figure removed, although the ranges remain largely unchanged from the previous edition.

In England and Wales, the Civil Liability Act 2018 provides powers for a statutory tariff – rather than judicial guidelines – of damages to be set for whiplash injuries in which symptoms are resolved in under two years.

The new tariff is expected to apply from April 2020.

In the Republic, the Personal Injuries Commission chairman Nicholas Kearns has commented that the level of awards in Britain is not necessarily the correct one.

The North’s Green Book guidelines first appeared in 1996, and the JSB has said it is an “invaluable tool” for practitioners and courts in the assessment of damages in personal injury cases.

This useful information on the Green Book has been compiled by Belfast solicitor Alison Cassidy of BLM Law

Examples of some of the most significantly increased injuries are as follows:

Injury

2013 edition guidelines

2018 edition guidelines

Percentage increase

(to top-line figure)

‘Other epileptic conditions’

Up to £40,000

£7,500 – £48,500

21% (and a starting line has been introduced)

Category 4 A(d):minor psychiatric damage

Up to £10,500

Up to £15,000

33%

Category 6 A(c): damage to the chest and lungs causing continuing disability

£20,000 – £90,000

£25,000 – £110,000

22%

Category 6 B(h): chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive airway disease

£7,000 – £28,000

£15,000 – £50,000

79%

Category 6 D(b): female – infertility

Up to £100,000

Up to £150,000

50%

Category 7 O(c): serious foot injuries such as traumatic amputation of a forefoot

£70,000 – £140,000

£90,000 – £180,000

28%

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