The logic underlying any personal injury claim is very simple: where a person's negligence causes someone else's accident, the latter deserves to be compensated.

Based on this logic, it would appear Ireland has become much more accident prone in recent years.

The number of personal injury court cases increased by 50% in the 10 years from 2007, while the number of compensation claims taken against local authorities went up by over 20% from 2012 to 2016.

Accidents come at a price: in the last five years alone, at least €387m has been spent on behalf of local authorities settling claims.

But some counties are more affected than others, with Limerick receiving more than three times the number of awards per capita, at the Injuries Board when compared to Kilkenny.

Meanwhile, some insurance companies say fraudulent claims could constitute as much as 10% of all claims.

Drawing on a wide range of data sources, RTÉ Investigates has spent the last six months researching this phenomenon.

Has 'compensation culture' gripped the country?

Or is it, as the legal profession argues, "an insurance industry myth"?


The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) is the State body that is often the first port of call in any personal injury claim.

Relying on annual reports from the Injuries Board from 2007 to 2016, we collated the number of awards given per county and then calculated a rate of awards per 10,000 people, so we could make comparisons from county to county, for that ten-year period.

Limerick, Louth and Longford top the list by some distance, with Limerick on the highest per capita number of awards, at 388, followed by Longford, on 352 and Louth on 319.

Those counties tend to feature at the top of an array of indicators related to personal injury claims, as we will show in other graphics.

Kilkenny, on the other hand, tends to feature at the bottom. In the map above, it ranks as the county least likely to have been offered a PIAB award, at just 122 awards per 10,000 people. This means that the inhabitants of Limerick were more than three times as likely to be offered an award at the Injuries Board than their counterparts in Kilkenny.

Click here to read more about how PIAB works and for analysis.

PIAB awards only tell part of the story.

Click here to read more about awards in personal injury cases.


Local authorities are in charge of the roads, footpaths, playgrounds and other amenities – so when an accident happens in one of these places, a council can end up receiving a compensation claim.

The costs of those claims, from 2012 to the end of first half of 2017, came to around €387m, according to a data analysis by RTÉ Investigates. (That figure is very conservative, given it doesn't factor in the cost of the time local authority staff spend responding to claims.)

The maps in this graphic show the total number of claims in each of the 31 local authorities in Ireland and the total costs, for the period under review.

To make meaningful comparisons between local authorities, we also worked out the per capita rates for the numbers of claims received, and, separately, the costs of claims.

The costs were proportionally highest at Louth County Council, at €16.2m (per 100,000 people) over the period in question, followed by Longford County Council, on €15.8m, with Cork City Council in third place, on €14.2m.

The data, in most cases, was derived from reports known as Claims Quarterly Reports by IPB Insurance, the insurer for nearly all of the local authorities, which were obtained through freedom of information.

Click here to read more about compensation claims and local authorities.

Councils can be sued for any number of reasons. Here we look at some of the more usual reasons councils are sued, and also identify the most treacherous footpaths in Ireland.

To read about how we gathered data from local authorities, click here.


This map shows fraud levels detected by Aviva, one of the largest insurers in the State, for 2016 and 2017, on a county-by-county basis.

The detected fraud levels are represented as a percentage of total claims received in each county.

According to Rob Smyth, the head of fraud at Aviva, those figures represent cases in which the company is satisfied there was fraud and is prepared to fight in court.

He says the true extent of fraud is certainly much higher and probably closer to around 7%-10% of all cases.

Click here to read more about fraud in personal injury and about why prosecutions for this crime are so rare.


Limerick, Louth and Longford also top the list when it comes to claims made against uninsured drivers.

The map above shows the claims made against uninsured drivers, over the eight-year period from 2010 to 2017, per 100,000 and by county.

And Kilkenny, which was at the bottom of the table when it came to the PIAB awards, had the lowest level of claims against uninsured drivers.

For more on claims against uninsured drivers, click here.


The State Claims Agency (SCA) is the public body that handles personal injury claims on behalf of over 140 public organisations, including medical negligence cases against HSE hospitals and voluntary hospitals, as well as cases against the Office of Public Works, An Garda Síochána, the Irish Prison Service, among others.

The SCA is a lot busier in recent years, with more claims being received and more money being paid out.

Click here to read more about the State Claims Agency, and find out about the enormous costs it spends on behalf of the taxpayer, much of which relates to medical negligence.


This project was done in collaboration with UCD Data Journalism Studio. Click here for UCD Data Journalism Studio.