This article was co-authored by Michelle Corry, Trainee Solicitor, Dublin.
To resolve more personal injury cases at an early stage, changes to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) framework have been introduced. In time, this should reduce the number of cases before the courts and ultimately reduce the cost for insurers.
Changes effective as of 4 September
The Personal Injuries Resolution Board Act 2022 provides for a number of phased changes. As of 4 September 2023, anyone making a claim to PIAB will be required to:
- Provide a medical report.
- Submit a PPS number or other identification and sign the application form, even where represented by a solicitor. This is intended to reduce the number of fraudulent claims.
- Include a detailed description of the incident. This will streamline the process, allowing the claim to be correctly assessed based on the information available at the outset.
Where a claimant does not provide all of the required information, the application will be incomplete and PIAB will not process their claim, meaning a claimant may be under pressure regarding statutory time limits.
How has the process already been enhanced?
Three key measures have already been commenced:
- Where a PIAB assessment is accepted by a respondent but not a claimant, and the claimant then proceeds before the court and receives an award lower than the assessment, the respondent is deemed to have made an offer of tender. A claimant will not recover their legal costs and may be responsible for the respondent’s costs from the date of assessment.
- PIAB can now deal with claims which are wholly psychological in nature. Previously, PIAB had discretion to deal with claims which were wholly or partly relating to psychological injury.
- PIAB is now permitted to retain claims for an additional two years where a long term prognosis is awaited, subject to both parties consenting i.e. it will have two years, nine months to assess claims. This should result in fewer claims proceeding to the more lengthy, costly litigation process.
What remains outstanding?
More changes are due to be introduced later in the year, including the introduction of a mediation service. This will allow claimants to have their claim resolved by mediation, assessment or both. PIAB will also be able to invite parties to consider mediation but both parties must consent.
If the parties agree to mediation, PIAB still has nine months to assess the claim, ensuring the expeditious nature of the process is upheld.
PIAB will also be renamed the Personal Injuries Resolution Board to reflect its expanded remit.
It may take some time to see the new measures having an effect in practice. However, we expect that insurers will ultimately benefit from a reduction in costs associated with personal injury claims.
Related item: Personal Injuries Resolution Board Bill 2022