Catastrophic injury award payment structures may change if proposed new legislation is introduced. Such legislation, if passed in current form, will give the courts the power to make periodic payments instead of lump-sum awards in such cases.
The proposals will be welcomed by practitioners who have, for years, acknowledged that lump sums can miss the mark of fair compensation and can fail to take into account a claimant’s future personal circumstances, future investment returns and inflation rates.
The general scheme of the Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill 2015 recently published by the Department of Justice proposes giving the courts, in catastrophic injury cases, power to make periodic payment orders (PPOs) instead of the traditional lump sum.
When this becomes law, courts will be able to decide if claimants who have been catastrophically injured will get the cost of future care, treatment and medical costs in the form of index-linked annual payments.
The new proposals should address the claimant’s concerns about inflation, investment returns and longevity. They should also reduce the risk for the defendant insurer of the claimant succumbing to their injuries earlier than expected with the resultant windfall to the claimant’s estate.