An expert working group on medical negligence litigation, chaired by High Court Judge Mr Justice John Quirke and including Mr James Kehoe, Fellow, Society of Actuaries in Ireland, has reported that the current system of awarding lump sum payments for damages for future care needs in medical negligence, and all other cases where catastrophic injuries are awarded damages, is inadequate and inappropriate.
A key recommendation of the working group’s report is that legislation be enacted to empower the courts to order consensual and non-consensual periodic payments where a seriously or catastrophically injured person needs long term permanent care - taking into account the nature of the injuries, the circumstances of the person awarded the damages, the levels of payment needed in relation to the age of the claimant and the likelihood of major improvement or deterioration in the person’s condition. These payments would be exempt from taxation or for use in paying off creditors in the event of bankruptcy. The NTMA should be utilised to provide the necessary security of periodic payments through the provision of annuities to insurers or others as appropriate, or a statutory scheme of protection should be established. The courts should also be allowed to order periodic payments for loss of earnings, but only by agreement between the parties.
The working group has submitted a proposed Draft Bill as part of the changes recommended in its report.
Overview from the Courts Service