person in yellow knit sweater in a prosthetic arm

You will be familiar with the phrase “It’ll cost you an arm and a leg”. The etymology is unclear.  

  • Google relates it to the costs of portraiture in the 18th century being determined by the number of limbs to be included.
  • If the aftermath of the American Civil War, Congress enacted legislation to compensate veterans with special provision for those who had lost “an arm and a leg”. 
  • There is some reference in newspaper archives from the early 20th century to the phrase being used in this context, with the Long Beach Independent reporting “…ideas for the homemaker who wants to say ‘Merry Christmas’ and not have it cost an arm and a leg” by 1949.

Personal Injury Assessment Board

In Ireland, all motor, public and employer personal injury claims not settled between the parties are referred to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). In 2017-19, over 19,000 PIAB awards were accepted by both parties without reference to the courts.  

PIAB, the Clonakilty-based quango tasked with assessing personal injuries compensation in Ireland, has welcomed the publication of new judicial guidelines on awarding damages to replace the 2004 Book of Quantum.

The Judicial Council agreed to the revised guidelines in March 2021 with a commencement date to be announced. 

Personal Injury Guidelines

PIAB CEO Rosalind Carroll said:

The guidelines, which will be used by both PIAB and the Judiciary to assess compensation in personal injury claims, will bring greater transparency and consistency to awards, and also importantly they will reduce the overall levels of awards in Ireland which were until now significantly out of kilter with other countries.

The Central Bank of Ireland has previously highlighted the cost and time benefits of PIAB over litigation in resolving personal injury claims. 

PAIB awards are broadly in line with those of the courts but tend to be resolved within 2.9 years post-accident compared to the 4.7 years it takes to go through the courts.

Ms Carroll concluded:

The next step for PIAB will be to examine the guidelines in detail to ensure our systems and processes are ready when they become law. The Minister for Justice has said she intends that the new Personal Injuries Guidelines will come into effect as soon as possible and will apply to all cases that have not yet been assessed by PIAB and that she will bring forward proposals to Cabinet on the implementation of the new guidelines.

An Arm…

…and a Leg

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By Paul Sullivan FRSA

Creating unique, engaging content for your law firm clients