Having reviewed a number of awards from PIAB since the introduction of the new “Personal Injuries Guidelines” (or the PIGs as one might call them) there seems to be a clear trend from the Board in misapplying the Guidelines and undervaluing injuries. Congratulatory comments from PIAB as to their stunning ability to reduce awards makes one worder if this paucity of analysis is intentional or purely due to a lack of experience.
One large issue arises from the requirement of the Board (and a Court for that matter) to have special care when considering the effect of multiple injuries on the level of damages to be awarded to a plaintiff who has suffered more than one injury. For instance the one accident may result in a back and hand injury.
In cases involving multiple injuries it is required by the Guidelines ‘where possible’ to identify the injury and bracket of damages that best corresponds to the most significant of the plaintiff’s injuries which should then be valued and thereafter be ‘uplifted’ by an amount that ensures that the plaintiff is ‘fairly and justly compensated’ for all of the effects of the lesser injuries in order to arrive at an overall award that is ‘proportionate and just’. In arriving at that figure, it is required to have regard to the severity of other injuries which attract an equivalent award under the guidelines.
In other words, PIAB and the Courts are expected to carry out a somewhat scientific analysis of each injury and individually “price” it.
Our experience from PIAB to date is that they regularly fail to apply an appropriate “uplift” (or at all) when calculating damages a plaintiff should receive and let people short as a result. You can end up with two injuries for the price of one! Thankfully the Courts will apply a more thorough analysis, and one of the first cases to come from the High Court on the matter makes for interesting reading.
It is another reason why dealing with PIAB without proper legal representation is not well advised and a plaintiff may well end up with less that they are entitled to by following the PIAB process and not seeking help from a solicitor*.
(incidentally PIAB get very touchy when it is pointed out they do not always strike a fair balance between plaintiff and defendant. We got this letter the last time they were criticised in this blog…)
* where the matter is of a contentious nature, a solicitor cannot charge a percentage of any monies awarded to the client.