© James McSweeney Solicitors
Each year the Injuries Board publish their report and this year is no exception. The head of the Injuries Board, Ms Patricia Byron, was interviewed yesterday on RTE Television about this year’s findings. Her interview was carried in all the major outlets including on the internet. She complained about the rise in the number of personal injury type civil actions in recent years blaming the availability of information on the internet for the increase.
There is no suggestion that any of these claims are fraudulent or undeserving. Ms Byron advocates draconian restrictions on the availability of information including absolute restrictions on advertising in order to try to reverse the process and postulates that if this isn’t done then insurance costs will rise.
We decided to ask the Principal of our firm, James McSweeney, his views as a representative of the victims of negligence over the last twenty years.
“Presumably the idea is that if we keep people in the dark about their legal rights then they won’t know they have any rights and that will bring down the number of claims” he says. He tells a story about working in a newsagent when he was a university student. His job, each morning, was to cut out the last four pages of women’s magazines with a razorblade. Those were the pages that contained information about family planning. He believes this is the same thing in a different context. “I thought we had left those dark days behind us” says McSweeney. He also notes the constant priority presence of the Injuries Board in Google searches for terms relevant to personal injuries claims. As anyone who has marketed their business through the internet knows, to get such results requires a considerable outlay. “I just wonder if it is actually the extensive advertising on the internet employed by the Injuries Board themselves that has educated Citizens and resulted in more people exercising their legal and constitutional rights”.
When it was set up by the then government, the principal stated purpose of setting up the Injuries Board was to reduce the cost of delivering compensation to victims of accidents. As we understand it, the idea was that those savings would be passed onto consumers of Insurance products. The Injuries Board claim to have delivered substantial savings in the delivery of compensation to accident victims since they were established in 2004. Has there been a significant drop in the cost of insurance over the same period?
The Board is made up of members of various interested organisations including unions, employers groups, the government and the civil service. According to her LinkedIn profile, the chairperson of the Injuries board also holds the position of head of Liability in CIE. This, presumably, means that she is in charge of the Claims Section As far as we are aware, no person on the Injuries Board has ever legally represented a negligent injury victim. We would like to be wrong about that.