The rates of rate of whiplash injuries suffered in Ireland is, at present, much higher than in most other European countries according a recent report from the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC).
The PIC was set up in early 2017 to look into personal injury compensation claims with a particular focus on the increases in soft tissue and whiplash compensation claims.
Car insurance costs went up by a staggering 70% in the three-year duration between 2013-16. It is though that fraudulent compensation claims to blame for this surge.
However, the PIC is of the opinion that establishing up an independent medical panel to review whiplash injuries would negatively affect a claimant’s rights, so it is steering clear from approving such a move.
Instead, it calls for the establishment of a uniform approach for medical staff treating whiplash injuries. There is, currently, no one accreditation required or benchmark standard for a doctor who wishes to complete a medico-legal report on a personal injury compensation claim in Ireland. The report says that medics should adopt a standardised approach to diagnosing, treating and reporting on soft tissue injuries, of which the vast majority are connected to whiplash.
It recommended the implementation of the Quebec Task Force Whiplash Associated Disorder grading scale by medical professionals reporting on relevant injuries. This scales is formulated based on the severity of symptoms and associated physical factor. It says “Training and accreditation in soft tissue reporting is agreed as being the best practice requirement for those wishing to complete relevant reports”.
The thinking is that a self-testing factor by the injured party should also be implemented to review compensation claims.
The PIC is chaired by Judge Mr Nicholas Kearns who urged insurance companies to release some background details on the incidence of whiplash injuries in Ireland. This would form a key element of the National Claims Information Database that is currently being put together by the Central Bank of Ireland.
Mr Justice Kearns also claimed that such dissemination of information on whiplash injuries would be for the betterment of the personal injuries compensation environment in Ireland by fostering ‘an objective standard’ for reviewing whiplash injuries. He went on to say that reports, in future, will look at comparative systems and bench marking compensation award levels from around the world.