Further data released in parliamentary questions has again highlighted the staggering growth in the number and cost of personal injury claims against the State.
Last week Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance, Deputy Michael McGrath highlighted that payouts by the State Claims Agency on personal injury claims rose by a massive 232 per cent since 2010. In addition, the latest Dáil reply confirms that legal fees for the claims paid out amounted to nearly €80 million in 2017.
Deputy McGrath commented, “Over €380 million was paid out by the State Claims Agency in claims and legal fees in 2017 alone, this represents a 22% increase from 2016. The rate of increase in payouts by the State in personal injury claims and associated legal costs are a cause of serious concern and raise a number of legitimate questions.
“The number of personal injury claims against State bodies that fall under the State Claims Agency amounted to just under 4,400 in 2017. This is a 132% increase from 2010. The Government really need to get a handle on this and ascertain exactly what is driving the increase in the number of claims.
“There has been significant inflation in the cost of claims also. Last week it emerged, from Parliamentary Questions I submitted, that personal injury claims surpassed €300 million for the first time in 2017. When the cost of legal fees is included, the true cost is over €380 million.
“Between 2010 and 2017 the total cost to the State from personal injury claims amounted to over €1.7 billion. Based on the data revealed to me, it is clear that the healthcare sector is the key driver but An Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces and the Irish Prison Service are also large contributors to the overall number of claims and the cost of those claims.
“What really alarms me is that this figure only tells part of the story. There are key areas of the wider public service not under the remit of the State Claims Agency.
“For example, how much was paid out by Local Authorities for example for personal injury claims in 2017 and the years preceding it? Another area of concern is the State enterprise sector. How much was paid out by CIE companies for personal injury claims?
“These escalating costs have an impact on the services provided to the public. Delegated State agencies must pay money into the State Claims Agency to keep it afloat and if the personal injury claims continue to rise, we will see more and more money having to be pumped in.
“While claimants need to be paid the appropriate compensation for the damage caused, the Government need to get to grips with the situation. The figure cannot be permitted to increase at the current rate without a response from the Government,” concluded Deputy McGrath.