The Recovery of Benefits and Assistance Scheme has been in place for over four years now, and has so far recouped €78m for the State.
The scheme makes it compulsory for all compensators to repay the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (the “Department”) any amounts that have been paid to an injured person through Illness Benefit; Partial Capacity Benefit; Injury Benefit; Incapacity Supplement; Invalidity Pension or Disability Allowance which has been paid by the State arising from the injuries sustained in an accident, which the compensator has compensated the injured person for.
This type of scheme is quite common in other common law jurisdictions, with Ireland being one of the last jurisdictions to introduce it.
The scheme does not apply to fatal injury cases or in circumstances where the injured party is under the age of 16 on the date when the compensation payment is made.
The compensator / insurer / solicitor must apply for a RBA Statement before making payment to an injured person. The same applies to the Injuries Board before it makes an order to pay. A RBA Statement will usually issue within 4 weeks to both the compensator and the injured person and is usually valid for three months from the date of issue.
The legislation does not allow for reductions arising out of the injured party’s contributory negligence save on foot of a Court Order confirming the apportionment of liability. If a Court finds an injured party was 50% responsible for their injuries then only 50% of the amount specified on the statement will be recovered from the compensator. This can lead to a significant saving for compensators.
If there is a loss of earnings claim being advanced by the injured person, that amount can be reduced by the amount that the State has paid per the RBA Statement. Again, this can lead to a significant saving for compensators.
The benefit to compensators is that scheme ensures against double compensation and incentivises them to settle claims as soon as possible to reduce the exposure of having to repay an amount to the State up to a maximum of 5 years.
The benefit to the State is that it recovers some of the monies paid to injured parties caused by the negligence of the compensator.
Since the scheme commenced on 1 August 2014 up to January 2018, the Department have dealt with over 220,000 requests for RBA Statements. The total amount recovered by the Department up to January 2018 amounted to €78 million. Not an insignificant amount by any means.
Further information on the RBA Scheme can be found here.