PIAB: The Personal Injuries Assessment Board

Author:Ms Lea Devitt
Profession:Dillon Eustace
 
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Introduction

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (" PIAB") is a statutory body, which came into force under the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act, 2003, ("PIAB Act"). The PIAB Act has commenced in its entirety since the 22nd July 2004. PIAB, together with the Civil Liability and Courts Act, 2004, ("the 2004 Act") which was brought into effect on the 20th September 2004, have changed practice and procedure in civil actions in Ireland.

PIAB's function is to assess compensation to be paid to individuals for pain and suffering in respect of personal injury where legal issues are not in dispute. Claimants are also entitled to claim for financial loss arising as a result of personal injury.

The establishment of PIAB was motivated by lobbying on behalf of the business and insurance industries. The insurance industry blamed the high cost of insurance on the legal costs associated with litigation. The government's ambition was to put in place an organisation to assess the amount of damages a person should receive in respect of injuries, without the necessity of bringing legal proceedings.

Since the establishment of PIAB, Claimants are not entitled to issue court proceedings in civil actions but must apply firstly to PIAB to have their claim assessed. Exceptions to this rule are:-

claims arising out of a medical or surgical procedure (medical negligence);

claims where aswell as damages for personal injuries there is a bona fide intention to pursue damages in respect of other causes of action (such as for example slander);

Garda compensation claims made under the Garda Siochana Compensation Acts, 1941- 1945;

claims where it is alleged that there has been a breach of a provision of the Constitution;

claims pursued under Section 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights Act, 2003;

claims which involve the Motor Insurers' Bureau of Ireland as a Respondent / Defendant, does not appear to be covered by the PIAB Act which specifically only applies to a civil action by a person against another person arising out of that others ownership, driving or use of a mechanically propelled vehicle.

Discretion not to arrange an Assessment

Under Section 17 of the PIAB Act, PIAB can exercise its discretion not to arrange an assessment and this may occur where:-

there is no case law or a sufficient number of settlements in relation to a particular type of personal injury to which the claim relates;

the medical issues in the claim are particularly complex involving the interaction between a number of different injuries including pre-existing conditions;

the injuries consist wholly of one part of psychological damage, the nature and extent of which it would be difficult to determine in an assessment;

there is a bona fide claim for aggravated or exemplary damages;

the claim arises out of a trespass to the person;

the gravity of the injury is such that there is a real danger that the Claimant might die and an early trial would be ordered;

the period of time for making the assessment would have to be deferred beyond nine months (in order that a long term prognosis in respect of the injury can be made);

the person purporting to act as Next Friend or Guardian or Respondent has a conflict of interest;

the claim is of a type which PIAB has the consent of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform declared that there are good and substantial grounds for its not arranging an assessment.

The PIAB Application

An application can be made to PIAB in accordance with Section 46 of the PIAB Act. The application is made by way of a Form A, which is available to download from the PIAB website. The form must be returned to PIAB with a fee of 50.00 imposed on the Claimant by PIAB...

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