The first step is to meet with one of our personal injury solicitors who will discuss your potential injury claim with you in detail without obligation offering an immediate and practical assessment and advise you on the best course of action relevant to your individual circumstances.
Notification of Claim
If you decide to proceed with your claim it will be necessary to formally put the other party and his or her insurer on notice that you are holding them responsible for your injuries and you intend to make a claim for compensation for the losses suffered. Under the Civil Liability and Courts Act, 2004, a claimant is obliged to send the wrongdoer a letter of claim within one months of the accident. If you have been injured and wish to pursue a claim you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Statute of Limitations
Subject to certain exceptions, you have 2 years from the date of the accident to commence proceedings. An important exception is in the case of persons under the age of 18 at the time of the accident, who are described in law as minors or infants. For minors, the Statute of Limitations ‘clock’ does not begin to run until they reach their eighteenth birthday. For more information on claims involving minors see: Child Injury Claims*.
You should always seek medical attention as soon as possible following an accident. Even if you have sustained relatively minor injuries you should nevertheless attend your G.P. or local hospital for a medical assessment. It will be necessary in due course to take up a medical report from your attending doctor to support any claim for compensation. It is important that when you first attend for treatment or an assessment you fully explain the circumstances of your accident including the date, time, location, etc., the nature of your injuries and also any history of injuries in the past.
The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB)
All personal injuries claims in Ireland (with the exception of medical negligence cases) must firstly be submitted to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (often simply referred to as PIAB) before any court proceedings can issue. PIAB is an independent body which assesses injury claims and suggests an amount of compensation which it considers adequate based on the medical and other evidence available. PIAB does not look into the merits of a case and essentially deals with cases where liability is not in dispute.
If PIAB feels the matter is too complex or it feels it cannot asses the claim within the timeframe permitted by statute or the other side does not consent to PIAB assessing the claim or the parties cannot agree on the compensation figure suggested, then it will issue an Authorisation allowing the claimant to proceed with the claim through the courts.
To proceed with a claim through PIAB it will be necessary to complete and lodge an initial claim form (Form A) enclosing a copy of a medical report along with the appropriate application fee. Legal advice should always be sought before completing and submitting Form A as the details set out in the claim form may later be relied upon in evidence. In assessing the claim PIAB will look at consequential losses, such as any loss of earnings arising from the accident and out of pocket expenses such as medical reports and treatment fees, etc., along with assessing damages for pain and suffering. The process generally takes between 9 and 12 months.
For more information see: PIAB.
Valuing Your Claim
Once PIAB has received all the relevant information and arranged an independent medical examination it will assess your claim. It will then furnish a formal Assessment setting out a suggested compensation figure which either party can accept or reject. At that stage, we will go through the Assessment with you and advise you as to whether the suggested compensation figure is adequate. If necessary, we may look to have you reviewed by a consultant so as to provide a better prognosis on your injuries and expected recovery and to better assist in valuing your claim.
If an Authorisation issues allowing you to proceed through the courts we will instruct an experienced personal injuries barrister to draft proceedings on your behalf. Once you are happy with the contents we will issue and serve proceedings on your behalf and in due course a court date will be fixed to hear the case. In the meantime we will arrange to have you examined by a consultant, if necessary, and deal with any issues raised by the solicitors acting for the third party insurer in defence of the proceedings. You may also be required to attend a medical examination arranged by the other side.
Settling the Claim
The majority of cases settle and are not fought out in court. At any stage it is possible to enter into settlement negotiations with the other side with a view to resolving matters, if both parties agree. However, it is our policy not to settle a claim too early. Even relatively minor soft-tissue injuries can take up to a year to settle down and it is our view that a claim should only be settled when you have a proper prognosis for the future available. At that stage, an informed decision can be made in respect of any offer of compensation based on the best available medical and legal opinion.
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 wish to discuss a potential claim or would like advice on any matter, please Contact Us for a consultation.
*in contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award of damages.