The largest personal injury settlement in the history of the State was ruled by the High Court on 20 April 2012. In approving the settlement of €11.5 million for 10 year old Cullen Kennedy, Ms Justice Mary Irvine expressed criticism at the lack of legislation to cater for the “life-long care needs” of crash victims.
Not only record-breaking in its amount, this lump sum award has revived the long standing debate surrounding the adequacy of lump sum awards for seriously injured victims and whether their needs would be better met by way of periodic payments throughout their life.
This issue was considered in detail by the Working Group on Medical Negligence and Periodic Payments. In a 2010 report, the Group recommended that legislation should be enacted to empower the courts to make consensual and non-consensual periodic payment orders to compensate catastrophic injury victims for costs of future treatment, care and the provision of medical and assistive aids and appliances. To date, no such legislation has been introduced.
The Working Group is also expected to report on the introduction of a clinical negligence protocol with a focus on pre-action procedures and a possible case management procedure for the management of clinical negligence claims.