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The High Court recently approved a €3m settlement in relation to proceedings in which a man suffered catastrophic injuries when he was crushed by a forklift against a refuse skip in the course of his employment. The injured man’s wife told the court that since the accident her husband requires full-time care and has to live in residential care. As part of the settlement the injured man’s wife requested that some of the settlement monies would be used to secure a home for her and her children where her husband can also be cared for rather than in a residential setting.

In cases of catastrophic injuries a judge may order a defendant to pay damages towards future medical care and treatment of the victim in the form of periodic payments. Periodic payments will be ordered only where it is considered to be in the best interests of the injured person, given the nature of their injuries and the form of award that would best meet their needs. Periodic payments may also be ordered for damages relating to future loss of earnings where the parties consent.

A Periodic Payment Order contains the following:

  • the amount of the award (and whether this includes future loss of earnings);
  • the frequency and method of payments;
  • payments are to be made to the injured party during the course of their life; and
  • contain a provision that the annual amount awarded will be adjusted in accordance with the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP).

A Periodic Payment Order may contain a provision specifying that the payment will, from a specific date, increase or decrease by a specified amount. This is known as a ‘stepped payment’. Stepped payments will be included where it is anticipated that there will be changes in the injured parties circumstances during their life which are likely to affect their needs, such as reaching 18 years of age or moving into residential care.

Where a stepped payment is provided for, the PPO must also include:

  • the change in circumstance causing the increase or decrease; and
  • the date and amount of the increase or decrease at current value.

The order will also note that the increase or decrease will be applied to the amount awarded as adjusted by the HICP.

To discuss Periodic Payment Orders, or any other legal issue, contact Louise Howard on 087 2220655 or email