Hospital Caterer Challenge Award Under New Personal Injury Guidelines

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A challenge by a hospital catering assistant to a proposed €11,000 compensation under controversial new guidelines for soft tissue injuries sustained after an oven fell on her opens on Tuesday at the High Court.

The award was presented to Tara Wolfe by the Personal Injury Assessment Board (PIAB) last June in line with guidelines reducing minor bodily injury compensation by up to 50% which came into effect last April after being approved by a majority of the Judicial Council.

Ms. Wolfe’s application for judicial review against the PIAB centers on her claim that the board failed to provide adequate reasons for her proposed €11,000 award. Several other ground based challenges have been taken and are pending hearing.

Judgment is pending on a separate challenge, with potentially sweeping implications, against the PIAB and various state parties regarding the guidelines’ constitutionality. This case was brought by Bridget Delaney, of Dungarvan, Co Waterford, after the PIAB assessed damages under the new guidelines for a broken ankle at £3,000 when she said he should have been valued according to previous guidelines between €18,000 and €24,000. . Ms Delaney’s case was heard by Judge Charles Meenan over several days in March and he reserved judgment.

In her action, Ms Wolfe (40), mother of two, of Donard Drive, Dublin 7, represented by Feichin McDonagh SC and Eileen Barrington SC, with Brendan Hennessy BL and John O’Regan BL, seeks orders quashing the PIAB assessment of 25 June 2021 and asking the Commission to reconsider its request and provide written reasons regarding its use and application of the guidelines.

The case stems from an accident at Mater Misercordiae Hospital in Dublin on December 26, 2018. Ms Wolfe claims that while she was cleaning a heavy oven in the hospital kitchen, it fell on her because If it wasn’t properly secured to the wall, she had to hold it and push it away, and support its weight for about a minute before finally managing to push it away from her chest.

It is claimed that the accident caused injuries to Ms Wolfe, in particular soft tissue injuries to her left shoulder, lower back and right leg.

Safe workplace

She instructed Rogers Law Solicitors to sue the Mater for negligence and failure to provide a safe workplace and system and various medical reports were provided.

The PIAB, with reference to the new guidelines, rated the dominant injury as a minor back injury involving substantial recovery between one and two years.

Ms Wolfe asserts, without giving further reasons, that the claim for general damages has been assessed at €11,000. Among various claims, she alleges that it is not clear how the PIAB concluded that the overriding injury was a minor back injury and how it was taken into account that she had a pre-existing back condition.

The guidelines, it is argued, require a more detailed analysis and presentation of detailed reasons. The PIAB, it is argued, has the same responsibility as the courts to “consider” the guidelines.

PIAB’s assessment, it is argued, fails to comply with the guidelines, the requirements of the PIAB Act 2003, the obligation to give reasons for a decision, due process and natural justice.

Ms Wolfe is aggrieved because the alleged failure to give adequate reasons means her lawyers are unable to tell her whether the PIAB assessment was properly and fairly made and whether she should accept it, it alleges. we. If she rejects the award and fails to obtain higher damages from a court, she may be subject to an adverse costs order.

By opposing the proceedings, PIAB disputes that its reasoning was insufficient or that its assessment did not comply with the guidelines and principles governing the award of damages in law.

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