Personal Injury Claims
Personal Injury Claims
There are many ways by which someone can sustain an injury that was not his or her fault.
Road accidents and work accidents are two of the most common means, but however your personal injury came about, you should be able to claim for your suffering. Yet this is not always an easy process, as the liability for your accident may be contested by the party you are accusing and your clam may be settled for less than your require.
As such, it is strongly advised that you consult a personal injuries solicitor as soon as possible after your accident has occurred so that you can get help throughout the process and maximise the likelihood that you will receive a fair settlement.
We specialise in personal injury claims. Call us now on freephone 1-800 844 306 to discuss your potential claim with an expert solicitor.
Before we begin, it should be highlighted that these are guidelines and no two claims for personal injury compensation will be alike. Yet if someone else’s lack of care or negligence was the cause of your injury, they should give a good idea of the processes involved in claiming compensation.
Qualifying for a Compensation Claim
It is essential that, if you have been injured in an accident for which you are not at fault, that you seek immediate medical attention. If you fail to do this, it could hinder your chance of a successful claim as if too much time passes between the date of the accident and of the diagnosis, it will be difficult to say that no intervening factor caused the injury.
Additionally, the defendant could claim that if the injury was not sufficient to warrant immediate medical attention that any deterioration was because of your lack of care.
You will be able to claim for personal injury compensation if a third party failed in their duty of care towards you. For example, your employer has a duty of care to provide a safe working environment and provide any training you should require.
However, this duty of care is not always absolute. For example, if you were injured in a traffic accident that involved a hazard that only just appeared, the council would not have a reasonable amount of time to discover and fix the hazard. The definition of “reasonable” in these situations is often disputed, and as such it is best to contact a solicitor before commencing on your claim.
Making a Claim through the Injuries Board
The most common route for claiming compensation in Ireland is through the Injuries Board. It is important to note that this body does not deal with any medical negligence claim, whether it was a misdiagnosis, surgical error or deterioration of an existing condition. These are made directly against the HSE or appropriate private medical practitioner.
The Injuries Board Ireland will only deal with claims for which liability is not under question. The organisation was founded in 2003 to make it easier for potential claimants to actually make a claim.
First, one submits an application for assessment with the board that includes a supplementary medical report describing the injury. The Board will then write to the negligent party and ask them whether or not they accept liability for the accident and subsequent injury.
Should the negligent party consent, an assessment will then be carried out and assess how much compensation you should receive. If you and the negligent party agree that this is a fair settlement, the negligent party will be issued with an Order to Pay, and you will receive this sum less any benefits from the State that you received during the recovery period.
Yet this is not always the outcome. It is relatively often the proceedings will be as described if the injury is relatively minor, though if the liability is contested by the negligent party, or the value of the settlement is disputed, the Injuries Board will have to issue “authorisation” for the claim to proceed to the courts.
Early on in proceedings, you may be approached by the insurance company of the negligent party with the offer of a settlement of compensation. This is not an admission of liability, and it is rarely advisable to accept any proffered settlements.
The amount will rarely equate to a fair settlement, and should you choose to accept it and later find it inadequate, you cannot return to ask for more from the company. Instead, bring the offer to your solicitor, as they will be able to advise you on proceedings from here.
Resolving a Claim for Personal Injuries
As mentioned, many claims for personal injury compensation will not be resolved by the Injuries Board, but instead through negotiations or court action.
Negotiations often prove to be the fastest way of resolving claims, and about a third are finalised thus way. Ordinarily, the solicitor will prepare a case to court standards, which will then be presented to the insurance company of the negligent party.
If the case is strong, the insurers will often engage in negotiations as they understand that going to court will be costly and likely entail a financial loss.
Should the claim go to court, it is usually because liability is contested. Your solicitor will advise you on the court proceedings, whilst still encouraging negotiations with the negligent party to enter negotiations.
As such, most cases will actually be resolved before an actual court appearance, though some cases – notable cases involving children – will need to appear before a judge before compensation can be paid.
If you have contributed in any way to the cause or extent of your injuries, you will be deemed as “contributory negligent”. Though it should not preclude you from claiming compensation, it may reduce the value of the claim to which you are entitled.
For example, if you did not seek immediate medical attention after an injury, and then continued your life as normal, you may cause an undiagnosed injury to worsen. You have contributed to the deterioration of your condition, and this will be assigned a certain percentage. If you are, say, assigned 25% negligence, your final settlement will be reduced by 25% before it is awarded to you.
Compensation Settlement Components
Though no two claims for personal injury compensation will ever be alike, there are four main components to each claim.
The first, “general damages for pain and suffering”, compensates for the physical injury sustained based on rates detailed in the Book of Quantum, a fairly outdated book that lists a range of injuries and the recommended amount of compensation.
The second is similar: general damages for emotional trauma. Psychological trauma is a common consequence of injuries, particularly if they were sustained in a dramatic way, and though it is less straightforward to diagnose, you should still be able to claim for it.
General Damages for Loss of Amenity compensates for the impact the injury has had on your quality of life.
Finally, Special Damages for Cots and Expenses reimburses you for any financial expenses incurred by your injury, such as refurbishment of your house or loss of earnings. The claim needs to be supplemented by invoices, payslips etc..
Child Personal Injuries Claims
If you are responsible for a child that has been injured in an accident, there are two main options. You could choose to wait until they are eighteen years old, at which point they will be able to claim on their own behalf. However, it is important to note that much evidence may have disappeared by this point.
The other option is to appoint a “next friend” to the child and then proceed to make a claim for compensation. This “next friend” will be a parent or guardian who acts on the child’s behalf, providing there is no conflict of interest (i.e. the next friend cannot be responsible for the child’s accident). If approval is granted, the procedure is the same for children as it is adults, with some exceptions (an application for a child cannot be made online).
Once a settlement is agreed, the case must first be presented to a judge for approval before it can be awarded. This is to ensure that the settlement is in the child’s best interest. If it is approved, the sum is then paid into court funds until the child is eighteen. If the funds are needed sooner, the parent or guardian can submit a request to the court.
The Statute of Limitations and Personal Injury Claims
After the date of the accident, there is a set period of time after which you cannot make a claim for injuries resulting from that accident. This is known as the “Statute of Limitations”, and in Ireland it is two years from the “date of knowledge” of the injury.
That means, from this date, you have two years to apply to the Injuries Board or file for legal action.
In many cases, the date of knowledge will be the same as the date of the accident (notably in car accidents). However, sometimes injuries only present later or manifest over a period time, which is common in occupational injuries.
For children, if the claim is not made whilst they are minors, their eighteenth birthday is deemed to be the “date of knowledge”.
Personal injury claims are regrettably common in Ireland, though however they came about, you should be able to claim compensation for you suffering. This can be done through the Injuries Board, negotiations or court actions, though in any instance it is highly advisable that you consult a solicitor.
There are many components of a settlement, and each will need its own supporting documentation and evidence, so you should start collecting this soon after the accident occurred. There is a limit of two years from the “date of knowledge” of your injury, and is important to bear this in mind as – after this point – you will be unable to claim for your injuries.
As such, it is strongly advised that you seek legal advice as soon as possible after your accident or recovery as he or she will guide you through the complicated process of claiming personal injury compensation and maximise the likelihood that you will receive a full and fair claim for you suffering.
Speak with a Solicitor Now by calling us on 01617 7959.