By Tríona Walsh, Solicitor, Litigation Department
The High Court recently approved a landmark interim structured settlement for a severely-injured man whose life expectancy is uncertain. In most cases involving claims for cost of future care, settlements take into account an actuarial valuation in relation to the capitalised cost of the future care needs of the individual. However, in this case, due to the severity of his injuries, the life expectancy of the injured man was uncertain and so his employers, who accepted liability, agreed to make periodic structured payments as an alternative to agreeing a settlement by making a lump sum payment.
The gentleman in question was involved in an accident at work and sustained a number of injuries which included a brain injury and which reportedly led to a personality change and diminished mental capacity. He is now a ward of court. As part of the settlement, he is to receive a lump sum, or “once-off” payment, as compensation for the injuries he has sustained. In addition to this, his employers have agreed to make monthly income payments to him and have agreed to discharge the annual cost of his care for his lifetime. The payments will also be index linked to allow for inflation. The President of the High Court, Mr. Justice Kearns, described the settlement as “historic” and “imaginative and unique”.
Currently, there is no legislation in place to govern such structured settlements. Therefore, the case has been adjourned until October 2011 to allow the Government to address this lacuna in the law and to draft and implement legislation to allow for such structured settlements. A working group, set up by the Government and chaired by the eminent High Court judge, Mr. Justice Quirke, is currently examining ways in which this type of structured settlement can be encouraged.