The Minister for Justice has announced that the government has approved plans to introduce new legislation to deal with catastrophic injury cases. The legislation will allow the courts to make periodic payment orders which they have not been able to make to date.
In recent years, the courts had been adjourning final orders in a number of cases in anticipation of legislation which had been expected following recommendations from the 2010 Working Group on Medical Negligence and Periodic Payments. Ms Justice Mary Irvine said a High Court working group had recommended 3½ years ago that the legislation be introduced, but nothing had been done.
The Minister has announced that the drafting of the Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill will commence shortly and will take the Working Group's recommendations into account.
Catastrophic injury cases before the High Court cannot be delayed any longer in the hope that the Government will introduce legislation to allow for annual payments to the injured instead of lump-sum awards.
Ireland is behind the common law world in dealing with catastrophic injury cases, as periodic payments schemes are in place in the UK, the US and other countries.
The award of a lump sum in such cases had been recognised internationally for many years as a system that could not provide justice for all parties.
If life expectancy was wrongly estimated, the person could run out of money, but if there was an overestimation of life expectancy the family could have an unexpected windfall of several million at a cost to the taxpayer.
Among the cases affected is that of a severely disabled 22-year-old woman who last year settled an action over injuries suffered after she allegedly contracted a rare brain disease, most probably from a parrot in a pet store.
We will keep you updated of any changes in the legislation in this area.
For futher information please contact Ms Ruth O'Neill by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: (01) 6794165