A 232% increase in the payouts made by the State on personal injury cases since 2010 is a cause of serious concern and must be explained by the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath T.D.
Deputy McGrath was commenting on a reply to a Parliamentary Question which shows that the State Claims Agency paid out over €300m in 2017 in personal injury claims against a range of State bodies. This was up 20% from the 2016 payouts.
Deputy McGrath commented, “In 2010, the State Claims Agency paid out €91m on personal injury claims. In 2017, this amount had increased to €302m – a staggering increase of 232%. Since 2010, the State Claims Agency has paid out over €1.3bn in respect of personal injury claims.
“The bulk of the payouts – some €282m in 2017 – relate to the healthcare sector. Payouts relating to clinical care – including medical negligence – amounted to €249m (compared to a figure of €78m in 2010) of the €282m. Non-clinical personal injury claims in the healthcare sector amounted to €3.4m in 2010 but increased to €33m in 2017.
“The increase in personal injury claims is not only confined to the healthcare sector. Outside of that area, compensation for personal injury claims doubled from less than €10m in 2010 to over €20m in 2017. Some of the main contributors to this €20m figure include Túsla, the Irish Prison Service, An Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces and Community & Comprehensive Schools.
“Nobody is denying that people who suffer personal injuries because of State negligence should receive fair compensation. Indeed, the State should not take the claimants to the steps of the Court years down the line before agreeing to compensation where it is blindingly obvious the State was at fault.
“This does not mean however that the State Claims Agency and the Minister should avoid questioning. The rate of increase in the cost of payouts is dramatic and requires an explanation.
“Why are so many incidents involving State bodies, which result in personal injuries, happening in the first place? Has there been a major increase in the number of such incidents? Has there been a change in the approach of the State Claims Agency to managing these claims? Has there been a dramatic increase in the amounts being awarded in the Courts for personal injury claims? How much is being incurred by the State in legal fees associated with these claims?
“It is important that this issue is probed further. I and my colleagues in Fianna Fáil will be asking further questions of the Minister in order to shed some light on the valid questions that remain unanswered.”