The Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) made a total of 14 recommendations across its two reports, which are aimed at positively impacting the overall Irish claims environment.
The First Report of the PIC, published in December 2017 made four recommendations.
- In regard to recommendation one – the adoption of a standardised approach to the examination and reporting of soft-tissue injuries, PIAB has rolled out the medical template to A&E consultants and GPs and will roll out to orthopaedic consultants shortly, by which point the roll out to PIAB’s independent medical panel will be complete. Insurance Ireland reported that it has distributed the medical reporting template to its members, who will begin to implement the use of the form within their individual companies.
- On the second recommendation, PIAB are engaging with Irish College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland to develop a training package for medical professionals who complete personal injury medical reports.
- The third recommendation relates to the Book of Quantum. This has been superseded by the PIC’s Second and Final Report which recommends that a Judicial Council, when established, be requested by the Minister for Justice and Equality to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.
- The fourth recommendation advocates that relevant injury data be collated and published by appropriate bodies. PIAB published data, on 5 November 2018, in relation to whiplash-related injury compensation awards resulting from road traffic accidents, in line with this recommendation.
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. Following publication of this Report, I wrote to relevant Government colleagues and other organisations including the Garda Commissioner, Insurance Ireland, The Law Society, The Council of the Bar of Ireland and the Law Reform Commission seeking co-operation in advancing the implementation of the recommendations relevant to them.
Progress on implementing the recommendations will be reported on through the Cost of Insurance Working Group Progress Reports.
Four of these recommendations relate directly to recommendations in the two Cost of Insurance Working Group Reports. The updates below provide detail on the implementation of the remaining six as at the end of 2018.
- Recommendations one and two provide that the Judicial Council when established, be requested to compile guidelines for appropriate general damages award levels for various types of personal injury. Due to the time required to enact and operationalise the Judicial Council Bill, the Department of Justice and Equality is working with PIAB on a process whereby an interim guideline relating to the priority soft-tissue/whiplash area would be delivered. Options to achieve this will shortly be proposed for discussion with the judiciary and the Courts Service as appropriate.
- Recommendation four provides for the development and roll-out in all relevant locations of ‘Best Practice’ standard treatment plans for soft tissue injuries. The HSE’s Emergency Medicine Programme (EMP) has 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. It strongly endorses the implementation of this approach and has agreed to survey the availability of these resources nationally.
- Recommendation five provides that in cases where an insurer deals directly with a claimant, no offer of settlement or payment of a personal injury claim can be made unless and until a detailed medical report has been obtained. Insurance Ireland has advised that it is standard practice for insurers to base personal injury claims settlements on medical reports.
- Recommendation nine encourages insurers and other relevant parties to adopt the same internationally recognised injury coding system (the World Health Organisation’s ICD-10 system). Insurance Ireland has advised that this will be considered by insurers on an individual basis.
- Recommendation ten relates to the establishment of a National Medical Research Study on the Prevention and Management of Soft Tissue (‘Whiplash’) Injuries. Insurance Ireland are currently in discussions with a third-level institution about commissioning this research.