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Book of Quantum No Longer Relevant?

The Book of Quantum is a guide to the amount which may be awarded in personal injuries cases. It values injuries to the head, arms, legs, neck, back and trunk. The Book of Quantum was first released in June 2004 and has not been updated since. Under current legislation, Courts must have regard to the Book of Quantum when awarding damages.

In a recent personal injuries case, the Judge found the Book to be of no assistance due to the passage of time since it was published. A 35-year-old builder, suffered significant injuries when travelling as a passenger in a car driven by a person who was uninsured and over the legal alcohol limit. The injured passenger, who had already received judgment against the driver, sought a declaration against the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) to satisfy the damages as the driver was uninsured. The Court found that the MIBI was obliged to pay the damages to the passenger. While the passenger was awarded €662,500 in damages, the Court found that he was 45% contributory negligent because he had allowed himself to be driven in the knowledge that the driver was over the legal alcohol limit. He was therefore only entitled to 55% of damages.

The Court concluded that the Book of Quantum was of no assistance in valuing the injuries. While it had been previously argued that the downturn of the economy meant the Book might have some renewed relevance, the judge stated that this was not correct. He noted that there has been some inflation since 2008. The Court affirmed the view taken in an earlier High Court decision in which an injured party was successful in claiming that he should not have been treated with a discectomy and was awarded €100,000 in damages. When coming to a decision on the value of damages in that case, the Judge opined that he had derived little assistance from the Book of Quantum given the complication in assessing damages between the adverse consequences of the surgery and the later onset of Parkinson’s disease.

While it remains to be seen whether the Book of Quantum will be overhauled to bring its valuation measures up to date, we do not expect that the Book will be amended to give assistance in complex cases, such as medical negligence claims, where an injured party is often found to suffer from numerous conditions unrelated to the alleged negligence.

Contributed by Ciara Gleeson.

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