To: Charles Flanagan
Cap personal injury awards and safe guard play opportunities for Irish children
Cap personal injury awards to tackle fraud and exaggerated insurance claims in Ireland. Challenge our culture of litigation while safe guarding play opportunities for Irish children.
Why is this important?
Think back to your own childhood and ask yourself where was your favourite place to play? Was it outdoors? What did that play look like? Did it make you feel alive, free?
The UK have begun to take radical steps to tackle exaggerated personal injury claims and insurance fraud. In April, 2018, Journal article wrote ‘the UK's justice secretary David Gauke, declared his intention to bring in legislation governing civil liabilities through the House of Lords. The bill will seek to place caps on the compensation payable for soft tissue injuries sustained in driving collisions.’
So what are personal injury claim’s like in Ireland?
The April article above also quoted ‘The average settlement for a whiplash injury in the UK is in the region of €7,000 (£5,000 sterling). In Ireland? It’s about three times that figure (between €15,000 and €18,000).’
On 26 Jan, 2018, an Irish Times article reported ‘the average cost of a minor ankle injury in Ireland is €54,700, compared to €12,554 in the UK.’
On 2nd October, 2018, Irish Times wrote of a young girl who injured her lower lip in a creche 13 years ago, being awarded €30,000 damages in the Circuit Civil Court, a minor injury she received on a tricycle.
We understand tragic things happen and we need to keep our children safe. But we need a counter balance now. We need to safe guard childrens health and well-being in play. We need the Minister to take radical steps to change the culture of claims for cash in Ireland today that has become so vigorous and has schools, childcare services and parks in constant fear of litigation.
I call on the Minister for Equality and Justice to strike while the iron is hot and act immediately to follow the UK example and set caps on personal injury claims in Ireland now. As personal injury claims go, Ireland is almost at top of the scale. As a result of the Irish culture of litigation, there is a growing culture of fear easing into every part of the modern Irish life and it is hurting those we care for most, our children. Children's fundamental rights and freedoms in play are slowly being eroded. Play on the streets, in parks and on school playgrounds looks very different today than in the past.
How does all of these exaggerated personal injury claims affect children's play?
Schools, childcare services and public parks are all in fear of being sued. Bans on children running at play in school yards. ‘No ball games’ signs posted in public parks across Ireland. Stories of lower branches being cut off trees to stop children climbing them. With rising obesity levels and mental health issues for children and young people, where does it all end Minster?
In May 2018, Irish Independent quoted David Duffy, an education and research officer with the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) stating ‘many schools are concerned about a litigious culture in Irish society. He stated “Logical but regrettable responses to that litigious culture include schools being so concerned about accidents in the school yard that some have instigated limitations on students’ physical activities such as running in the school yard”
Enough is enough. We need decisive action now Minster and we need a proper debate on legislative measures to safe guard play opportunities for all Irish children. Support our schools, childcare centres and public parks committees who are so afraid of being sued they have to ban running in play in schools and post 'no ball games' in parks. Cap personal injury awards to tackle exaggerated insurance claims and fraud in Ireland while ensuring childrens right to experience freedom in play is preserved.
I'd like to ask the Minister personally to think back to his own childhood and ask himself where was his favourite place to play? Was it outdoors? What did that play look like? Did it make him feel alive and free?
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