Total compensation approved by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) is continuing to fall with the value of awards last year down almost 8% to just over €275m.
The latest annual report by PIAB – the State body which assesses personal injury claims – also shows a drop in the number of awards and new claims made during 2019.
Figures show the number of cases finalised was down almost 5% to 11,527 awards – the lowest annual total since 2013. The size of the average award also decreased – down 2.5% to €23,861.
PIAB said that 54% of all awards accepted last year were less than €20,000 and 90% less than €38,000. Only 2.5% of the awards were in excess of €100,000.
The highest accepted compensation payout approved by PIAB last year was €452,488 which was in relation to a fatal motor accident with the majority of the sum awarded to cover the financial dependency of the victim’s family. The lowest accepted award was €620.
PIAB figures shows that claims under motor insurance policies accounted for 70% of all awards made in 2019 with public liability claims representing 17% of awards and employers’ liability claims the remaining 13% - a breakdown that has remained largely unchanged in recent years.
It noted that the number of claims relating to fatal injuries has declined from 151 in 2017 to 61 last year which it said could be linked to improvements in road safety and the safety performance of vehicles.
Awards for employers’ liability claims have the highest average payout at €29,859 which PIAB said reflects the often more serious and complex nature of injuries resulting from workplace accidents.
New claims also declined by 7% to 31,072.
PIAB chairperson Dermot Divilly said the passing of new legislation last year which gave the board additional powers in relation to compensation combined with the establishment of the Judicial Council, which will set guidelines on personal injury awards, were “positive and much-needed steps”.
“When the Judicial Council guidelines are issued, they will of course be followed by PIAB and it is vital that they are also followed consistently by all those making awards and agreeing settlements in relation to personal injuries claims,” he added.
Mr Divilly said 2019 was a year when very serious challenges continued to exist for wide sections of Irish society due to very high levels of insurance premiums and the falling availability of some types of liability cover.
PIAB chief executive, Rosalind Carroll, said those issues were causing severe damage to small and medium-sized businesses in Ireland as well as having a serious impact on the viability of a range of community, childcare and sports groups.
Ms Carroll also welcomed the first publication by the Central Bank of its National Claims Information Database in relation to motor insurance.