The Injuries Board, formerly the Personal Injuries Assessment Board or PIAB, is an independent body created under statute whose primary function is to assess personal injury claims. The Injuries Board does not look into the merits of a case and there is no oral hearing. It makes an assessment of damages based on submitted medical evidence and receipts for allowable expenses, including any certified loss of earnings. All personal injuries claims in Ireland, with the exception of medical negligence claims, must first be submitted to the Injuries Board for assessment before any court proceedings can issue.
It will be necessary to take up a medical report from your treating doctor before submitting an application to the Injuries Board. In most cases, a report is requested from your G.P. but it can be from a treating Consultant or the A & E Department. It is important to review the report before it is submitted to ensure there are no factual inaccuracies and that the initial symptoms and injures complained of are fully documented. This report may be relied upon in evidence at a later stage so the importance of the first medical report should not be underestimated.
Completing Form A
To start the process a formal application is lodged with the Injuries Board along with the appropriate application fee and medical report from your treating doctor. It is very important that the application form (Form A) is carefully and accurately completed as it may be relied upon in evidence at a later stage. It may be stating the obvious but the simple matter of naming the correct defendant (described as ‘Respondent’) is vitally important and in some cases there may be a number of respondents or in the case of uninsured or unidentified driver cases the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) will also need to be named. It is always advisable to attend your solicitor for advice before submitting an application to the Injuries Board.
Acknowledgement of Claim
Once the application is received and acknowledged as complete, the Injuries Board will write to the alleged wrongdoer and his or her insurer putting them on notice of the claim and asking if they are happy for the Injuries Board to proceed with the assessment. Unlike the claimant, the respondent can opt out of the Injuries Board system and decline to have the matter assessed. The respondent and/or his insurer have 90 days within which to reply. If the respondent declines to have the matter assessed by the Injuries Board an authorisation is issued allowing the claimant to institute court proceedings. It should also be noted that the Injuries Board may decide not to assess a claim if it believes the claim may not be dealt with within the prescribed time allowed or due to the complexities involved.
Injuries Board Assessment
If the respondent agrees to the assessment, the Injuries Board will proceed with the claim and assess your injuries. It will also take into account any consequential financial losses such as property damage, treatment fees and other costs and expenses and any loss of earnings claim. The consequential losses are described as special damages and the Injuries Board will furnish you and/or your solicitor with further forms to fill out in this regard. If you are claiming for lost earning, a loss of earnings certificate will need to be completed and stamped by your employer or accountant (if self-employed).
Before carrying out a final assessment the Injuries Board will then arrange for you to be examined by an independent medical expert (taken from a panel of doctors and consultants). Once the medical and other evidence has been collated it will consider the evidence and deliver a formal Assessment. This is essentially a suggested compensation figure which it believes is adequate to compensate the claimant. It is then open for either party to accept or reject the Assessment.
Book of Quantum
In assessing what is considered adequate compensation for your injuries the Injuries Board will have regard to a compensation guide called the Book of Quantum. This guide has been compiled for the benefit of the Injuries Board by independent consultants and is used as an aid in assessing injury claims. It lists a number of generic injuries and allocates a scale of compensation measured in accordance with the expected length of recovery. For example, a common whiplash injury which has substantially recovered within 12 months is valued at anything up to a maximum of €14,400 and if the injury is significant and ongoing up to €64,500. However, in our experience the Injuries Board tends to be conservative in its assessments and the majority of claimants reject the Assessment and proceed on with their claims with a view to recovering more appropriate compensation.
For more on estimated levels of compensation click on our Compensation Calculator link.
Order to Pay
If both parties accept the Assessment the Injuries Board will issue an ‘Order to Pay’ stipulating the amount payable to the claimant. The Order to Pay has the same status as a Court Order. If the either party rejects the Assessment then the Injuries Board will issue an Authorisation permitting the claimant to institute court proceedings.
The Injuries Board is obliged to deal with a claim within 9 months from the date the respondent consents to the process. This period may be extended by a further 6 months if necessary. In our experience it usually takes in or about 9-12 months from making the initial application to receiving a formal Assessment. At that stage it should be apparent as to whether a claimant is recovering satisfactorily from his or her injuries.
It is our policy not to settle a claim or advise a client to settle until such time as there is a proper prognosis available. Once we have up to date medical and other evidence available we will be in a position to properly advise you on the value of your case. This allows you to make an informed decision on your claim before instructing us to negotiate a settlement on your behalf.
Statute of Limitations
Subject to certain exceptions, you have 2 years from the date of an accident to lodge an application with the Injuries Board. If the 2 year period expires (even by a single day) your claim may be considered ‘Statute Barred’ and unable to proceed. An important exception is in the case of persons under 18 years of age at the time of the accident, who are described in law as minors or infants. For minors, the 2 year Statute of Limitations ‘clock’ does not begin to run until they reach 18
For more information on claims involving minors see: Child Injury Claims*.
It should be noted that once an application has been lodged with the Injuries Board this places a freeze on the Statute of Limitations stopping the clock. It does not recommence until 6 months after the Injuries Board issues an Authorisation. However, there are important exceptions such as when the proposed Respondent is a deceased person’s estate. In these cases, lodging an application with the Injuries Board does not stop the clock.
Legal Costs & Expenses
Firstly, it should be noted that the Injuries Board does not make a separate provision for legal fees in its assessment of damages. Any legal fees will need to be paid out of the award of damages received. The Injuries Board will however allow you to recover the following expenses:-
- The application fee
- The reasonable cost of the first medical report submitted
- Vouched treatment fees and other relevant expenses
- Certified loss of earnings
- Vouched property damage losses, such as vehicle damage repairs
In addition, the Injuries Board may make a contribution towards legal fees in circumstances where the claimant is considered ‘vulnerable’ such as where the claimant is a minor or is suffering from a disability.
In order to assist our clients it is our policy to only charge a basic flat fee for dealing with Injuries Board claims. We do not increase our fees commensurate with the amount awarded so you will know from the outset what to expect in terms of fees deductible from any award made. If we pay for items on your behalf during the course of your claim, such as medical reports and other expert reports, application fees, etc., these will need to be recovered. As indicated, the majority of these costs will be accounted for in the Injuries Board Assessment.
Note: In contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award of settlement. The recovery of ancillary costs and outlays, such as medical consultant, engineer, and other expert fees, is limited to the sum recoverable by you at law from the negligent third party. If your claim is unsuccessful you may be liable for the other party’s legal costs.
If you wish to disucss a potential claim or would like advice on any matter, please contact us for a consultation.