Following the introduction of the Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme, settlements of medical negligence compensation could be delayed by up to three months in the future.
The Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme was introduced last week (1st August) as a new initiative that will allow the Department of Social Protection (DSP) to recover welfare benefits paid to plaintiffs in cases where the benefits relate directly to their claim.
Under the new process, when a settlement of compensation has been agreed (and approved if necessary), the negligent party´s insurance company (or State Claims Agency) will have to apply to the DSP for a statement showing how much welfare payments have been received by the injured plaintiff over the previous five years.
The insurance company/State Claims Agency will then deduct the amount of the welfare payments from settlements of medical negligence compensation, send the repayment of the benefits to the DSP and send the balance of the compensation settlement to the plaintiff when a certificate of payment has been received.
The potential for delays is significant for plaintiffs waiting for settlements of medical negligence compensation. The DSP is allowed up to four weeks to send the insurance company/State Claims Agency the statement of benefits; after which the insurance company/State Claims Agency must submit the repayment of welfare benefits to the Department and wait for a certificate of repayment to be returned.
Only once the certificate of repayment has been received can the insurance company/State Claims Agency send the balance of the compensation settlement to the injured plaintiff. Depending on the efficiency of the DSP, the insurance company and the State Claims Agency, settlements of medical negligence compensation could be delayed by up to three months.
The benefits to which the new rules apply are:
- Invalidity Pension
- Disability Allowance
- Illness Benefit
- Injury Benefit
- Partial Capacity Benefit
- Incapacity Supplement
Injured persons considering making a claim for compensation should note that the receipt of welfare benefits does not disqualify you from claiming medical negligence compensation.
Plaintiffs waiting for settlements of medical negligence compensation should also be aware that the repayment of any welfare benefits you may have received is not your responsibility.
If you have any questions about the new procedures relating to settlements of medical negligence compensation, how to check any welfare deductions are accurate, and what to do if you believe they are wrong, please consult with a medical negligence solicitor as soon as possible.