To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality his views regarding the possibility of reforming the process of court awarded medical expenses from a lump sum to a payment that is issued on a periodic basis to match the medical expenses of the person each year throughout the course of their lifetime to ensure that there is no shortfall in funds; his view on whether legislative changes are required; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Programme for Government includes a commitment to introduce legislation to facilitate courts making provision for structured settlements in circumstances where lump sums are currently awarded as a consequence of individuals suffering catastrophic injury because of the negligence of another.
The High Court Working Group Report on Periodic Payments recommended in October 2011 that legislation be enacted to empower the courts, as an alternative to lump sum awards, to make consensual and non-consensual periodic payments to compensate injured victims in cases of catastrophic injury where long term permanent care and treatment will be required. The Working Group also recommended that periodic payment orders should only be made where the court is satisfied that continuity of payment under the periodic payments order is reasonably secure.
The successful operation of a statutory scheme for periodic payments requires the establishment of a financial infrastructure to ensure that continuity of payment is secure. In this regard the Working Group recommended that the State, through the agency of the National Treasury Management Agency, be empowered to provide injured victims with the necessary security for periodic payments either by the provision of annuities to insurers and others or in such other manner as may be appropriate. Alternatively it was recommended that consideration be given to the introduction of a statutory scheme whereby payments made under periodic payment orders will be statutorily protected and guaranteed. The NTMA has concluded an actuarial review on the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of the State acting as an annuity provider to insurers and indemnity providers in personal injury actions to enable compliance with the security of payment principle. The NTMA report is being considered in consultation with the Minister for Finance with a view to the development of legislative proposals