Personal injuries board delayed authorising claims until new guidelines, High Court told

Four Courts, Dublin

24 April 2021

Five children who want to bring personal injury cases over alleged psychological injuries in road collisions have taken High Court proceedings against the Personal Injuries Assessment Board over its failure to issue the necessary authorisations.

In separate cases, all five claim the Board has unlawfully and “inexcusably” delayed authorising their cases out of its desire to assess their claims itself under the new Personal Injury Guidelines aimed at reducing awards, especially for minor injuries.

The new guidelines came into effect on Friday, April 24th.

Among various claims, it is alleged it was not open to the Board to choose to delay performing its statutory duty until the guidelines come into effect.

Judicial review

At the High Court on Friday, Mr Justice Charles Meenan granted leave to David McGrath SC, instructed by Houlihan Solicitors, for all five, to bring their judicial review proceedings against the Board aimed at securing the authorisations necessary for them to sue the defendant drivers of the vehicles involved in the collisions.

All five children were restrained rear seat passengers at the time of the collisions.

Leave was granted ex parte (one side only represented) and the judge returned the matter to next month.

The applicants include Whacker McCarthy, suing by his mother Hannah McCarthy, of Cowpark, Kilcornan, Limerick. It is alleged he suffered psychological injuries while a restrained rear seat passenger in a vehicle involved in a collision on September 10th 2017 and suffered shock, bedwetting, anxiety, emotional upset and nightmares after the accident.

An application for assessment of damages was filed with PIAB on March 24th 2021 and his solicitors wrote to the Board about April 14th last, asking it to issue an authorisation.

Psychological injuries

The board responded on April 20th indicating, as the new guidelines were effective from April 24th, and would include ranges of damages for psychiatric injuries, the Board would itself assess the psychological claim and would not issue an authorisation for proceedings as sought.

The solicitors wrote again to the Board on April 20th and April 22nd and initiated the judicial review proceedings after failing to get the authorisation.

Proceedings have also been taken by Scott Harris, suing by his father Tony Harris, of Lord Edward Street, Limerick, over delay authorising his claim for psychological injuries allegedly suffered on March 7th 2021 when the boy was a restrained rear seat passenger in a vehicle involved in a collision.

In a separate case, Jackson Lee Harris, suing by his mother Jodie Kelly, of Maigue way, Limerick, wants authorisation to commence personal injury proceedings over psychological injuries allegedly suffered when the boy was a restrained rear seat passenger in a vehicle involved in that same collision of March 7th 2021.

In another separate case, Caoimhe Malone Walker, suing by her mother Sinead Malone Walker, of Glenna Rua, Rathmore, Co Kerry, is seeking authorisation for a case over psyhological injuries alleged suffered when she was a restrained rear seat passenger in a vehicle involved in a collision on November 16th 2018.

A separate case has been brought by Leon Bonfirraro, suing by his father Angelo Bonfirraro, of The Faythe, Fishers Row, Wexford, aimed at securing authorisation for a case over psychological injuries alleged suffered when he was a restrained rear seat passenger in a vehicle involved in a collision on January 7th 2020.


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