INDIVIDUALS making personal injury claims could face high legal fees if they reject an offer from the state appraisal agency and then fail to win a higher price in court.
Bill to implement this is part of a series of reforms to the Personal Injury Assessment Board to encourage more people to use it rather than bear the cost of going to court.
The body is renamed the Personal Injuries Resolution Board (PIRB).
Secretary of State Robert Troy said the legislation will allow the board to deal with claims of a psychological nature and offer the facility for arbitration of claims.
Thousands of personal injury claimants go to court each year instead of accepting PIRB awards.
PIAB is a government body that decides claims without involving the courts. If either side rejects a settlement offer, the case may go to court.
Currently, individuals who reject a PIRB Settlement and go to court but do not receive a higher award rarely have to pay legal fees.
But the new bill provides for those who decline an offer of arbitration from PIRB but fail to obtain a higher arbitration award in court, with the prospect of paying hefty legal fees.
Such a plaintiff must pay his own legal costs and the costs of the defendant from the date the lawsuit was filed.
The legal costs of a judicial dispute resolution are almost 20 times higher than those of the assessment body.
Legal costs related to settling claims through litigation amounted to €16,064, compared to legal costs before the board of just €841, the central bank found.
And the time it takes to resolve claims through litigation is 4.2 years, while claims processed through PAIB take an average of 2.3 years.
And that despite the fact that the amounts awarded in the courts tend not to be higher than in the assessment committees.
Secretary Troy said the Personal Injuries Resolution Board’s Bill 2022 proposes to amend Section 51A of the Act to encourage early resolution of claims and minimize costs.
The bill provides that if the plaintiff initiates litigation, a review that has been accepted by a defendant has the status of an offer to pay from the date the defendant accepted the review.
If the court award is not higher than the PIRB rating, the plaintiff will not recover its costs and will generally be liable for the defendant’s costs as well.
The legislation also proposes that the PIRB offer mediation as a means of resolving a claim.
The board retains claims of a purely psychological nature.
It will have additional time to assess claims if damage is unresolved, rather than proceeding to litigation
PIRB will also request proof of identity upon request and will share information with An Garda Síochána to reduce fraud in accordance with the provisions of the proposed legislation.
Minister Troy said: “As part of the bill I have also decided to include a new provision to strengthen the process by making it a criminal offense to provide false or misleading information to the PIRB.
“This should build and strengthen confidence in the PIAB process, which relies on accurate and truthful information for its fair and orderly operation.”
The Alliance for Insurance Reform welcomed the intent of this legislation.
Alliance director Peter Boland said it makes no sense for plaintiffs in minor injury cases to deny PIAB assessments of personal injury.
“If you do this and start litigation, you will no longer receive compensation and will add more than two years to the process before compensation is served.
“The only beneficiaries of this lawsuit are the attorneys, who are making thousands more by getting PIAB’s claim out. That is not sustainable for society.”
Mr Boland called on Minister Troy to ensure that this legislation is passed and acted upon by the end of this year.
https://www.independent.ie/business/personal-finance/insurance/move-to-cut-insurance-premiums-by-forcing-more-cases-through-assessment-board-41884586.html Move to lower insurance premiums by forcing more cases through the grading board