Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Questions (295)

Robert Troy

Question:

295. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the progress to date for implementation of each of the 14 recommendations made by the Personal Injuries Commission that fall under her remit regarding personal injury awards; if each such recommendation has been completed, not completed or is ongoing, respectively; and the revised deadlines for recommendations to be fully completed in tabular form. [51401/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

The establishment of the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) under the remit of my Department was a recommendation from the Cost of Insurance Working Group Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance approved by Government and published in January 2017. The first Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) Report was published in December 2017 and contained four recommendations, that report sets out suggested timelines for implementation of each of the four recommendations. The Second and Final Report made a further 10 recommendations. While they are not timebound, I would expect that they should be implemented as soon as possible by the relevant bodies.

Progress on implementation is monitored through the Cost of Insurance Working Group Quarterly Progress Reports published by my colleague Minister of State Michael D’Arcy. The following tables set out the status of recommendations from both PIC reports:

Recommendations of the first Personal Injuries Commission Report

Numbers

Recommendation

Status

Comments

1.1

Adoption of a standardised approach to examination of, and reporting on, soft tissue injuries. Suggested timeline for implementation: Mid 2018

Ongoing

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) has rolled a standardised template out to its independent medical panel. It is understood Insurance Ireland has distributed the medical reporting template to its members.

1.2

Promotion of ‘best practice’ standardised training at CPD level for medical professionals completing personal injury medical reports. Suggested timeline for implementation: End 2018

Ongoing

PIAB have engaged with relevant providers on this. It is understood that the relevant training has commenced in the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) and that the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) will continue to assess requirements with respect to the provision of any further relevant training for members.

1.3

Link future publications of the book of quantum to the newly standardised examination and reporting injury categories of the QTF WAD scale. Suggested timeline for implementation: 2019

Superseded by Judicial Council Act

This has been superseded by the PIC’s Second Report which recommends that a Judicial Council, when established, be requested by the Minister for Justice and Equality to compile judicial guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury.

1.4

Relevant injury data should be collated and published by appropriate bodies. Suggested timeline for implementation: End 2018

Partially completed

On 5 November 2018, PIAB published data on whiplash-related injury compensation awards resulting from road traffic accidents, in line with this recommendation.

Recommendations of the Second Personal Injuries Commission Report

2.1

The Judicial Council should, when established, be requested by the Minister for Justice and Equality to compile guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury.

Ongoing

The Judicial Council Act 2019 was signed into law on 23 July 2019. It is understood work is ongoing by the Department of Justice and Equality and the Office of Parliamentary Council with regard to commencing the remaining sections of the Act before year end.

2.2

The PIC recommends that the Judicial Council Bill 2017, establishing the Judicial Council, be progressed through the Houses of the Oireachtas as a matter of urgency.

Completed

The Judicial Council Act 2019 was signed into law on 23 July 2019.

2.3

Law Reform Commission to be requested to undertake a detailed analysis of the possibility of developing constitutionally sound legislation to delimit or cap damages.

Completed

The Fifth Programme of Law Reform was approved by Government in March and subsequently published on 5 June 2019. The Programme includes the project to consider whether it would be constitutionally permissible and, if so, whether it would be desirable to legislate for statutory caps on general damages (damages for pain and suffering) in personal injury cases. It is understood that the LRC has already commenced work on this and that it is a priority for it. This recommendation is considered as having been completed. However, the CIWG will continue to monitor and report on any significant developments.

2.4

The PIC recommends the development and roll out, in all relevant locations, of best practice ‘standard treatment plans’ that focus on recovery, alongside awareness and promotion of best treatment practices.

Ongoing

The HSE’s Emergency Medicine Programme (EMP) advised that the model outlined in the PIC’s case study, whereby patients are referred early to a physiotherapist when treating soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash, is both recommended and common practice in Emergency Departments (EDs) in Ireland. The EMP advised that it strongly endorses the implementation of the appropriate level of physiotherapy support in all EDs and Injury Units and agreed to survey the availability of these resources nationally.

2.5

In cases where an insurer deals directly with a claimant, no offer of settlement or payment of a personal injury claim to be made unless and until a detailed medical report has been obtained.

Completed

Insurance Ireland has advised that it is standard practice for insurers to base personal injury claims settlements on medical reports.

2.6

Requires claimants to give prompt notification of any potential injury so that a proper investigation may be undertaken.

Completed

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019 (No. 3 of 2019) was commenced with effect from 3 April 2019. The purpose of the Act is to strengthen PIAB in terms of operational issues – such as non-attendance at medicals and failure to provide details of special damages or loss of earnings – to ensure greater compliance with the PIAB process and encourage more claims to be settled through the PIAB model.

2.7

The PIC recommends the establishment of an Irish Garda Fraud Investigation Bureau along the lines of the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) in the UK, without further delay.

Completed

The Garda Commissioner has decided that there should instead be a stronger focus by An Garda Síochána at Divisional level on insurance fraud. This approach, which is aligned with the divisional-focused Garda model will be aimed at tackling such fraud on the ground all over the country. It is the intention of the Commissioner that the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) will guide Divisions and provide training in support of their investigation of insurance fraud.

2.8

The PIC recommends that insurers step up their anti-fraud capacity through the recruitment of suitably trained personnel and the development of various technological means of combating fraud. Wherever possible, insurers should provide timely information in relation to suspected fraud to An Garda Síochána so that such cases can be investigated by An Garda Síochána and where appropriate be the subject of criminal prosecutions.

Ongoing

Government has published Guidelines for the Reporting of Allegations of Fraudulent Insurance Claims to An Garda Síochána. These Guidelines make it clear what insurance companies should do in the event that they suspect fraud in a personal injuries claim.

2.9

Insurers and other relevant parties to adopt the same internationally-recognised injury coding system (the world health organisation’s ICD-10 system).

Ongoing

Insurance Ireland has advised that the adoption of an internationally recognised injury coding system will be considered by insurers on an individual basis, subject to their internal business requirements and IT integration plans. The Central Bank are progressing this recommendation.

2.10

Insurance industry to establish a national medical research study on the prevention and management of soft tissue injuries.

Ongoing

Insurance Ireland has spoken to a number of parties in relation to conducting a national medical research study on behalf of industry on the prevention and management of soft tissue/whiplash injuries.