THE number of awards for personal injuries sustained in accidents across Limerick has increased by more than 25% over the past three years.
New figures from the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) show Limerick had the highest number of personal injury awards per capita in 2012 – for the second year in a row.
According to PIAB, which published its annual review for 2012 this week, there were 745 awards last year relating to injuries sustained in accidents in Limerick .
This accounted for 7.5% of awards across the country and represented the highest ratio of awards per head of population.
Despite a significant reduction in road deaths across Limerick last year, the majority of the claims and subsequent awards related to injuries which were sustained in car accidents.
According to PIAB, the number of awards in Limerick during 2012 represented an increase of 4% compared to 2011 (714) and 26% compared to 2010 (587).
It is estimated that more than 2,000 claims were lodged with PIAB in Limerick last year although the final figure will not be published until later in the year.
While legally-binding awards were made in relation to 745 claims, the remainder of the claims were either settled or ended up before the courts as liability was disputed.
“We reckon that roughly the same amount of awards we make (nationally) are usually settled during the process between the parties because we have taken the claim details and we have passed them from the claimant to the person they are suing and there is a time frame allowed where the respondent can consent or not and very often the straight forward ones are settled,” said Stephen Watkins of PIAB.
While a detailed breakdown of the figures for Limerick is not yet available, it is understood that most of the 745 awards related to accidents which occurred in Limerick city and its environs.
Nationally, personal injury claims increased by 4.7% in 2012 with the average award being €21,502 - the single highest award was €697,495.
Since 2004, all personal injury claims much be lodged with PIAB unless there is a settlement between the parties immediately after the accident.
“All cases must be made through the injuries board unless there is a settlement right at the start between the parties. So, if somebody wants to make a claim they must go through us. You can’t go directly to court, you must go through the board,” explained Stephen Watkins.
Meanwhile, Patricia Byron, the chief executive of PIAB has expressed concerns about an increase in promotion and advertising by claims handling intermediaries. “We believe that a regulatory gap has emerged whereby solicitors are restricted from promoting their services yet claims handling firms can do so with impunity. The upcoming Legal Services Bill presents an opportunity to address an emerging claims culture by extending restrictions on advertising to claims handling firms and by introducing strict powers of enforcement and sanctions for non-compliance by all intermediaries,” she said.
For more information log onto www.injuriesboard.ie