Law Society expresses dismay as new Personal Injuries Guidelines fall short of protecting consumers from insurance industry spin

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The Law Society of Ireland has warned that “the insurance industry has triumphed at the expense of the ordinary citizen.” Their profits grow annually at the expense of consumers. The new Personal Injuries Guidelines take effect from 24 April 2021.

President of the Law Society, James Cahill, said, “The commencement of the “much-lauded” Personal Injuries Guidelines represents a new departure for compensation to victims of personal injury. The pendulum has swung too far in favour of the insurance industry. All solicitors will continue to fight on behalf of our clients. The balance needs to be redressed in favour of David against the insurers’ Goliath.”

Victims lose out in insurance industry blame-game

“Lower insurance premiums for consumers is the reason put forward for massive cuts to victims’ compensation. Surely then, a reasonable assumption is that a guaranteed 50%-plus drop in damages would result in a 50%-plus drop in premiums. Yet, the insurance industry would prefer to safeguard its eye-watering profits of hundreds of millions of euro than confirm reductions for their customers. Clearly it is business as usual for an industry that has never taken responsibility for ever-rising premiums. It reaps staggering profits from a public that has no option but to be insured by one of a handful of providers that control the market,” he said.

“The insurance industry spin must stop. There is no justification for them spending enormous resources on their lobbying and public relations designed to continually reduce the amount of compensation paid to people with genuine injuries. People always say that products or services are too expensive and they want lower premiums. I have never come across any injured person who, after the event, would have considered they were over-compensated for their injuries. The insurance companies like to put the blame on victims and their solicitors, while they are the ones reaping enormous profits. The time has now come for the people of Ireland, media and government to stand up to the avarice of that industry.”

Reduced access to justice

“A concerning effect of the new guidelines is reduced access to justice for many injured people who will appear before an already overburdened District Court and Circuit Court, ill-equipped to handle the increase in cases. These courts cannot allocate the necessary time to have injured people’s cases heard. This added pressure on those courts will require more judges, staff and courtrooms to resolve. Failing that, the inevitable result will be huge delays. Justice delayed is justice denied.”

“The Law Society has always supported the decision to ask the Judicial Council to set appropriate personal injuries guidance for their colleagues. However, we cannot be true to our clients and support enormous reductions.”

“There is no denying that the effect of the severe reductions outlined will leave many injured people substantially undercompensated – adding insult to injury. The promise of fairness to consumers appears to be missing while the insurance industry has triumphed at the expense of the ordinary citizen,” Mr Cahill concluded.

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