The Personal Injuries Assessment Board or PIAB, is an independent body created under statute whose primary function is to assess personal injury claims. PIAB 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. The suggested compensation award is open for either party to accept or reject. 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 PIAB. In most cases, a report is requested from your G.P. but it can be from a treating Consultant or even 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, PIAB 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 PIAB to proceed with the assessment. Unlike the claimant, the respondent can opt out of the PIAB 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 PIAB an authorisation is issued allowing the claimant to institute court proceedings. It should also be noted that PIAB 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.
If the respondent agrees to the assessment, PIAB will proceed with the claim and assess the 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 PIAB 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 PIAB 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 PIAB will have regard to a compensation guide called the Book of Quantum. This guide has been compiled for the benefit of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board by independent consultants and in line with previous Court awards is used as an aid in assessing injury claims. It lists a number of generic injuries and had previously set out a scale of compensation measured in accordance with the expected length of recovery. For example, a common whiplash injury which has substantially recovered (usually within 12 months) is valued at anything up to a maximum of €15,700 and if the injury is significant and ongoing up to €77,900. More recently PIAB amended the Book of Quantum placing injuries instead in categories described as either minor, moderate, moderately severe or severe and permanent. However, only a limited number of injury types are categorised leaving many types of injuries not catered for at all which makes it difficult for PIAB and practitioners to properly assess the level of damages (compensation) that should be considered appropriate for the injury suffered. This is where the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer is invaluable in terms of advising on the value (quantum) of a particular injury claim.
For more on estimated levels of compensation (quantum) click on our Compensation Calculator link.
Order to Pay
If both parties accept the Assessment, then PIAB 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 PIAB will issue an Authorisation permitting the claimant to institute court proceedings.
PIAB 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 PIAB. 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 PIAB this places a freeze on the Statute of Limitations stopping the clock, but only as against the party named as a Respondent. It does not recommence until 6 months after PIAB issues an Authorisation. It is vital that the correct party is named as a Respondent when submitting a claim to PIAB and it is always recommended that a specialist personal injury law firm is consulted when making an application to PIAB to ensure the correct party or parties are named and that no issue arises at a later stage which may impact the prospect of a successful outcome.
Legal Costs & Expenses
Firstly, it should be noted that PIAB 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. PIAB 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, PIAB 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 PIAB. 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 PIAB Assessment.
You should note that 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 would like to discuss a potential claim or would like advice on any matter, please Contact Us to arrange a consultation.
*in contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award of damages.