The Chief Executive of the Injuries Board has defended the recommended award of compensation for whiplash injuries in the recently revised Book of Quantum.

The Book of Quantum is a guide for recommended compensation awards for physical personal injuries. It was originally published in June 2004 and intended to assist with the assessment of personal injury claims in which negligence had been admitted. The guide lists a range of personal injuries and assigns them a financial value according to their severity and permanence.

The Book of Quantum is not only used by the Injuries Board in the assessment of claims. Solicitors and courts use the guide as a means of determining compensation awards. However, as it has not been updated since it was first published, the Book of Quantum has been criticised for falling behind the times. Some awards of compensation have been artificially inflated to account for this.

Economic factors, such as low interest rates, have also contributed to the Book of Quantum being disregarded in the settlement of personal injury claims – especially those in which the plaintiff has suffered a catastrophic injury. Whereas when the Book of Quantum was first published, judges could rely on an interest rate of 3%-4% when awarding lump sum payments, they are now awarding higher settlements of compensation to account for the reduced interest plaintiffs will receive on the amount.

Now, after months of discussion between the Injuries Board, the Courts Service and senior judges, a revised Book of Quantum has been released. Revised financial values for many personal physical injuries have been re-calculated based on injury compensation awards in 52,000 cases. However, despite the comprehensive nature of the Book of Quantum, and the work that has gone into bringing it up to date, critics have picked on a 9% “rise” in compensation for whiplash injuries.

It has been alleged that claims for compensation for whiplash injuries account for 8 out of 10 personal injury claims in Ireland (reports from the Injuries Board prove otherwise), and that the cost of settling compensation claims for whiplash is forcing up motor insurance premiums. However, Injuries Board Chief Executive Conor O´Brien has defended the misperceived “rise” in compensation for whiplash injuries from €14,400 to €15,700 – the lower range for soft tissue neck injuries.

Speaking to the Independent, Mr O´Brien said: “The revised book of quantum is not inflationary. It reflects current awards made by the Injuries Board, in the courts and settlements by insurers. It should not create any inflation in the settlement of claims.” He added that, although there had been increases in the guidelines for thirty-five categories of personal injury, another thirty-five categories of personal injury had either remained unchanged or seen their values decreased in the revised Book of Quantum.