The number of personal injuries claims submitted to the Injuries Board increased by 6% to 33,561 last year but the number of compensation awards made were down compared to 2014.
According to the board, the increase in claims — compared to 31,576 claims in 2014 — reflects increased economic and social activity.
The rise was expected given there are more people at work, higher traffic volumes, as well as and higher footfall in public areas.
The Injuries Board made 11,734 awards for personal injury compensation and delivered a total of €268.4m in compensation in 2015, compared to 12,420 awards and €281.2m compensation in 2014.
In a statement, the Injuries Board said the reduction in awards does not reflect any change to underlying claim volumes but, rather, is due to the timing of awards, with some volume from 2015 pushing into the first quarter of 2016.
Projecting forward to the end of this year, underlying award volumes annually will average 12,000 over the three-year period 2014 to 2016 compared to approximately 1,500 personal injury cases adjudicated in the courts annually.
Average compensation awards by the Injuries Board remained consistent with 2014, increasing by 1% to €22,878 (a slight rise from the 2014 figure of €22,642).
The breakdown of awards was also steady, with motor liability accounting for three in four awards, employer liability at 8%, and public liability at 17%.
While employer liability awards have typically attracted the highest average award value in recent years, in 2015 the average award for a workplace claim reduced by 3% to €31,267 (2014: €32,134).
Public liability awards, for injuries resulting from accidents in public places, made up 17% of total awards in 2015, with a 2% increase in the average award to €25,213 (up from €24,677 in 2014).
Counties Limerick, Longford, and Louth recorded the highest volume of awards on a per-head-of-population basis while Kilkenny, Wexford, and Wicklow recorded the lowest.
According to chief executive Conor O’Brien, the Injuries Board continues to offer the lowest cost, most efficient, and timely model for assessing significant volumes of personal injury cases.
“Last year alone the board’s non-adversarial model delivered direct savings of almost €80m and claim processing costs are now at their lowest ever level of 6.5%,” said Mr O’Brien.
The comparable cost of processing cases in litigation can be up to 60% of the compensation awarded.
The more cases than can be processed through the Injuries Board without the need for litigation, the greater the impact on claim costs.
“In addition to processing efficiencies, we are seeking to ensure continued clarity around compensation values and an independent review of the Book of Quantum is under way for publication later this year,” said Mr O’Brien.
“A comprehensive understanding of the broader personal injury environment requires the publication of data relating to cases that are settled outside of the board’s model.
“Bridging this significant information gap should be in the best interest of all stakeholders and an important step in better understanding any claims-related factors impacting on insurance premium increases,” added Mr O’Brien.
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