Plans to change the way damages are calculated in Northern Ireland could leave people with life-changing injuries undercompensated and relying on the State, lawyers warn ahead of a debate in the Assembly (9 March).
“It is critical that the compensation is enough to cover the medical and social care, and financial needs, of catastrophically injured people for the rest of their lives,” said Oonagh McClure from the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) a not-for-profit group which campaigns on behalf of injured people.
“The plans to change the method of calculating compensation would force injured people to take risks when investing their compensation, to make it stretch to last a lifetime,” she explained.
APIL calls for the Assembly to ensure that compensation continues to be calculated on the assumption of risk-free investments.
“Injured people are already expected to invest their lump sum compensation payments under the current method, but are assumed to be very risk averse “or risk free” investors, which is how it should be,” said Ms McClure.
“Injured people are not stockbrokers. Most will never work. They can’t simply earn more money. Many are terrified that their compensation will run out.
“Imagine being pushed into a situation where you might lose the only money you will ever have,” Ms McClure went on.
“Compensation must be calculated on the assumption of risk-free investments. This is an issue of need: the actual needs of people who have been injured through no fault of their own must be met in a fair and just 21st century society,” she said.