August 8, 2022

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THE Government has agreed to changes in the way the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB)...

THE Government has agreed to changes in the way the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) operates in a bid to steer more claimants away from the courts.
ut the Government has pulled back from earlier expectations that the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) would be given semi-judicial functions.
Such a move would strengthen its role and make it more difficult to reject offers of awards and resort to the courts.
Alliance for Insurance Reform director Peter Boland said the proposed legislation was a missed opportunity to establish PIAB on a semi-judicial footing.
However, the new Bill will see those who reject an offer of an award from PIAB, but fail to get a higher award in court, facing the prospect of paying large legal costs.
Such a claimant will be faced with paying his or her own legal costs and the defendant’s costs from the date of the lodgement of the claim.
At the moment judges may award costs against a claimant who rejects a higher PIAB award than the one the court sets. The bill will take award the discretion of judges on this.
Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Robert Troy hopes this will discourage people rejecting award offers and going to court.
The legal costs of settling a claim through litigation in the courts are almost 20 times higher than those of the PIAB.
Legal costs associated with settling claims through litigation were €16,064 compared to legal costs under the board of only €841, the Central Bank has found.
And the time taken to resolve claims through litigation is 4.2 years while claims settled through PAIB take 2.3 years on average.
The new Bill proposes to amend the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003-2019 to allow PIAB will offer mediation as a means of resolving a claim.
And the board will deal with claims of a “wholly psychological nature”. At the moment claimants can avoid using the board for such claims.
Additional time will be given to PIAB assess claims where an injury is yet to settle rather than releasing to litigation.
Mr Troy said the Bill will see the board seeking proof of identity on application and disclose information to An Garda Síochána to reduce fraud.
The proposed legislation will see PIAB’s name changed to the Personal Injuries Resolution Board.
Mr Troy said he met a range of representative bodies when considering the changes.
“While there is no one simple solution to resolve the high cost of insurance in Ireland, it is my ambition that the new PIRB model will have more cases resolved through it in a timely, cost-effective way.”
PIAB chief Executive Rosalind Carroll welcomed the planned changes.
She said the new legislation, once brought into law, will extend PIAB’s services to include mediation aimed at resolving personal injuries claims that are currently resolved through a much more costly and lengthy litigation route.
Peter Boland of the Alliance for Insurance Reform gave a guarded welcome to draft legislation.
“The extension of PIAB responsibilities to cover assessment of psychological injuries, more complex injuries and those taking longer to resolve themselves is most welcome. Likewise the broadened data generation responsibilities.”But he said the introduction of mediation must not be allowed to create additional delays or add costs to the PIAB process.

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