Victims of catastrophic injuries who have been waiting for new legislation to allow for periodic compensation payments are being failed by the Government, a High Court judge has said.
Ms Justice Mary Irvine said victims who had secured interim settlements in the expectation legislation would be introduced soon would now have to pursue lump-sum payments.
These lump sums were unsuitable where life expectancy was uncertain, according to the judge, who was part of a working group that recommended change in 2008.
The group said victims were being failed under the current system of lump-sum payments but the law has yet to be changed.
At the High Court today she said: "We are really behind in dealing with catastrophically injured parties."
"I appreciate there are many demands on the Government in the current economic climate but I am disappointed, particularly at a time when we are hearing so much about Constitutional change to promote and protect the rights of children that there is a failure to protect the welfare of these uniquely injured children who will require round the clock care for the rest of their lives."
She said she would allow the nine cases listed for today and any others which arise to pursue final lump-sum settlements in lieu of periodic payments.
To stall them further with no indication from the State that a change in law was on the way would be to further delay the families' right to justice and to add to their already substantial suffering, she said.
Among the cases listed for today was 23-year-old Patricia Ingle, who was permanently brain damaged after she became ill while working in a pet shop.
During her High Court case in June last year it was alleged she had contracted a rare disease from parrots. Her case was settled without admission of liability.
Ms Ingle had made an interim multi-million euro settlement with provision for instalments to begin next year.
However she will now have to pursue a lump-sum payment when her case returns to court next year.