On 1 October 2013, the Injuries Board published its six-month analysis to June 2013. The number of claims in this period was up 10% and the average award was up 4% writes Richard Lee.
Commenting on the figures, Patricia Byron, CEO of the Injuries Board, said “Despite double digit increases in the first half 0f 2013, claims volumes slowed in the third quarter and a continuation of the trend could see full year volume increases being pared back to about 5% – on par with prior years. On this basis, and given a 30% reduction in the board’s processing fee to respondents (mainly insurers) we see no basis for insurance premium hikes at this time”.
A reason given for the 10% increase in the number of claims is a higher volume of motor claims “sparked by the recessionary environment and promotional activity by claims-farming firms”.
Lawyers should be uncomfortable with the phrase ‘claims-farming firms’. These so called ‘claims-farming firms’ do not create accidents. Rather, law firms inform accident victims of their rights and encourage them to make claims, if and when appropriate. The Injuries Board is “the official State authority responsible for personal injury awards”. Its mission statement is “to be the independent facilitator in the delivery of compensation entitlements in a fair, prompt and transparent manner for the benefit of society”.
Its reports, therefore, should be detailed and neutral in all respects.
The Injuries Board six-month analysis gives useful and important figures but omits other relevant figures – in particular the number of applicants who use a solicitor in making an application to the board.
In legal circles, it is estimated that 90% of applicants retain a solicitor to give them advice on the process, in addition to advice on whether any award made is reasonable for the particular circumstances of the applicant.
Other relevant figures would be the number of awards refused by applicants, in addition to the number of awards refused by respondents, together with the total number of authorisations issued.
The figure for the number of applications made and not completed is also relevant, particularly if the reason for non-completion is caused by a failure to understand the process.
In 2011, the Injuries Board received 27,669 applications and made 9,833 awards.
Approximately one award was made for every three applications received. What happened to the other applications?
Previous indications from the board would suggest that another one-third would have settled before an award was made. But that still leaves approximately one-third, which would include authorisations issued and applications not pursued.
Detailed figures, whether favourable or unfavourable to the legal profession and insurance companies, should be published to give a clear picture of the statutory workings of the the Injuries Board.
Source – Law Society Gazette November 2013 Edition
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