Wednesday, 15 November 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
201. Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of cases that have been lodged with the Personal Injury Assessment Board since it establishment; the number of cases that the board has assessed; the number of cases that are outstanding; the statutory deadline for the processing of same; the number of awards made by the PIAB that have been rejected; and the cost of legal fees incurred by the PIAB in the same period. [38199/06]
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Martin): The Personal Injuries Assessment Board has received thirty six thousand cases since it was established. I understand from the PIAB that six thousand of these were settled up-front from the outset, nine thousand cases were settled between the parties during the PIAB process, over five thousand assessments have been made, and an estimated four thousand cases are heading into litigation, although not all of these will necessarily go to a full hearing. Of the five thousand, three hundred and nineteen assessments which have been made to 3rd November 2006, four thousand, five hundred and ten have outcomes, in other words these are cases where all parties have accepted the award or where one or more party has rejected an award (the remainder of the cases are awaiting a response from some or all of the parties). Of these cases where the outcome is known, one thousand, six hundred and fifty eight have been rejected, representing a sixty percent acceptance rate.
This leaves twelve thousand cases which are currently in the PIAB system. Seven thousand five hundred of these are in the assessment phase, and I am assured by the PIAB that they will all be dealt with within the statutory time frames. The balance of cases is awaiting documentation from one of the parties or a decision from the Respondent to consent to process or not.
The Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 provides that the Board must ensure that assessments are made within a period of nine months beginning on the date on which it receives the respondent’s consent to assessment, or in circumstances where it appears to the Board that it would not be possible or appropriate, because of the particular circumstances of the claim concerned, to make an assessment within the nine month period, the period for making an assessment may be increased to fifteen months. I am advised by the PIAB that ninety three percent of assessments are made within the nine month period; the remaining seven percent are assessed within a further six months as allowed by the legislation (these would normally be cases where a stable medical prognosis is not available in nine months).
The PIAB has assured me that it has the capacity to deal with the volumes of cases on hand and projected to come before it. Currently seventy-two staff are employed by the Board. This is expected to rise to eighty-five by year-end. In addition, the Board outsources claims preparation and helpline services to a contracted service centre, which provides flexibility and the capacity to expand processing volumes quickly to meet increased demand. Based on statistical and actuarial trends, the PIAB has projected annual volumes of cases rising to twenty five thousand per annum, forty percent of which are expected to be resolved between the parties following contact with the PIAB, twenty percent are expected to head into litigation (but not necessarily to a Court hearing), and the remaining forty percent will be assessed by the PIAB.
To date the PIAB has paid legal fees in respect of judicial review of €92,913.99 in 2004, €265,542.73 in 2005 and €25,811.41 in 2006, and has paid legal fees in respect of commercial, contractual and operational advice of €64,506.97 in 2004, €141,924.36 in 2005 and €190,696.82 in 2006. The PIAB does not make awards in respect of the legal costs incurred by the claimant and respondent in respect of claims.
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