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Personal Injury Claims Process in Ireland*
Making a personal injury claim* can be daunting for most claimants. Especially if you have been involved in an accident through no fault of your own and you have suffered injury, loss, damage or expense as a result. If you have sustained injury in an accident you should contact a solicitor, to advise and assist you in the claims process.
If you decide to proceed with your claim the process will unfold as follows:
Step 1: Find out if you have a case
In any personal injury* action, establishing whether you have a case will be your first step. It is not advisable to take a claim without first establishing you have a good case in law. This is why seeking legal advice from a solicitor at the very outset is important. This also ensures that the claims process runs as smoothly as possible from gathering of documents, medical reports and evidence to submission of the application to consideration of the Injuries Board compensation suggestion. Generally speaking, it can be said that you have a case if:
- Your accident happened in the last two years, what is formally known as the ‘Statute of Limitations’
- You recently became aware of an injury following an accident that happened over 2 years ago;
- If the accident was the fault of another person;
- If you suffered an injury as a result of the accident
In many cases, it is very clear from the outset that an injured party will succeed in their claim; for example, where the injury results from a motor accident when the client is a passenger, to give but one example.
In order for a solicitor to advise you on your accident and whether you may be entitled to make a claim, include all facts surrounding the accident; even the facts that you may think are not as important. Also remember to include things like how the accident happened, what exactly you were doing at the time, who was involved and who witnessed the accident.
To start the process, the following pieces of information are important for your solicitor to know:
- A detailed description of the accident and how it happened.
- Pictures of the scene of the accident to show how it happened
- Specific time and date of the accident
- Was there any CCTV in operation where your accident happened? Your solicitor can request the owner of the CCTV to send over the recordings.
- Witness details – was there any witnesses to the accident?
- Medical reports – if you have copies of them to hand, if not your solicitor can request these from your doctor.
- Details of loss of earnings – how much wages have you lost as a result of the accident?
- Details of Medical history – did you have any medical conditions before the accident occurred?
- Claims history details – have you made any personal injury claims in the past? Details of the party at fault for your accident. – it is of the utmost importance that you have correct party identified when making a claim.
- A list of any expenses you incur as a result of the accident (for example, medical costs, travel costs, home care costs or any other costs involved)
Step 2: Medical Reports
The next step in the claims process is perhaps the most important. In order to prove your injuries, you will need a medical report from the practitioner that treated you following the accident. Your solicitor will generally request medical reports from your doctor on your behalf. Similarly, in cases of psychological injury, your solicitor can request reports from the psychologist that treated you. The purpose of this report is to clarify the nature of your injuries, your symptoms and, where possible, your prognosis.
Step 3: The Injuries Board Application
Once established that you have a case, the next step in almost all personal injury* cases (with the exception of medical negligence claims, some cases where the injury in wholly psychological and some assault cases) is to submit an application to the Injuries Board for assessment of your case. Personal Injury* claims must be assessed by the Injuries Board before any Court Proceedings can be issued.
The Injuries Board can deal only with matters where there is no dispute on liability, as they do not hear cases.
Once your solicitor has obtained the necessary medical reports and gathered all other information necessary, they will complete and submit an application to the Injuries Board on your behalf. Once submitted, the Injuries Board will acknowledge receipt of this and will notify the person at fault, or more usually their Insurers, of your claim. Once submitted, the 2-year time limit clock will stop while your claim is being assessed.
If the other side consent to the Injuries Board assessing your case, then the Injuries Board will arrange to have you medically assessed by an independent doctor and it will produce a valuation of the claim, usually within 9 – 12 months.
If the other side do not consent to the Injuries Board assessing your case then your claim will move to the next stage of the process, i.e. Court proceedings.
Step 4: Injuries Board Assessment
In assessing your claim the Injuries Board will look at past personal injury cases and injuries similar to yours to determine how much compensation they will suggest. They do this by referring to the ‘Book of Quantum’.
The Book of Quantum is a record of personal injury cases, specific injuries and how much they settled for. Use our compensation estimator to get an insight into how much you may be awarded for your injury.
Step 5: Consideration of Injuries Board Assessment
Once your application has been assessed by the Injuries Board they will contact your solicitor with a suggested compensation amount to be paid to you by the person at fault. You will then need to consider whether to agree to this assessment or not. At this point, your solicitor will review the Injuries Board suggested compensation amount with you and advise you accordingly; but ultimately it will be your decision whether to accept it or not.
Once an assessment has been made by the Injuries Board you have 28 days to accept or reject the offer. The other side has 21 days to accept or reject the offer made by the Injuries Board. The assessment must be accepted by both sides before it can be paid.
If you fail to respond to the offer in 28 days, it will automatically be deemed to be rejected in the eyes of the Injuries Board.
Should both parties accept the assessment made by the Injuries Board, then the Injuries Board will issue an order to the person at fault to pay the settlement amount. Once this happens and the monies are paid over, the case is then deemed to be settled in full and final settlement, meaning that you cannot return at a later date seeking further compensation.
However, if either you or the other side does not accept the Assessment, then the claim will move to the next stage of the process, i.e. Court proceedings.
At this stage, you will work with your solicitor and they will issue legal proceedings to progress your case.
Step 6: Court proceedings
Following the issue of proceedings the defendant’s solicitors comes on record by ‘Entering an Appearance’. They will then issue a ‘Notice for Particulars’ and we will take your instructions for replies to that notice.
The Defendant’s solicitors then file their Defence. The Defence will indicate whether the defendant accepts or denies liability. In some cases it may be necessary for us to issue certain Motions compelling the Defendant’s solicitors to take certain steps, for example a Motion to compel them to file their Defence if they delay in doing so, or a Motion compelling them to allow our engineer inspect the defendant’s premises, or a Motion for Discovery compelling them to produce certain relevant documents, and so on. During the course of the case, we will obtain updated medical reports as required.
When the pleadings have been closed (i.e. the Defence file) your solicitor will instruct Counsel to prepare an “Advice on Proofs” which is a summary of the further steps to be taken prior to the trial and identifies the witnesses required.
Settlement of your case
The majority of personal injury cases will settle outside of Court. The reality is that if you move past the Injuries Board stage to legal proceedings you will not have to step foot into a courtroom.
Before the hearing, settlement meetings may be arranged, meaning that you would meet with your legal team – Solicitor and Barrister – to start these talks. At the meetings, your legal team will communicate with the other side on your behalf, all the while keeping you up to date and informed of the progress and any updated settlement offers.
Your legal team may come to an acceptable conclusion for you at these meetings if so, your case will then be concluded in full and final settlement there and then. If settlement talks do not result in an acceptable settlement amount, then your case will move to a court hearing where a Judge will make the final decision on your case.
Either way, your case will be settled and closed, either at a settlement meeting or a court hearing.
During our initial contact we will take the details of your accident and injuries and answer any questions you may have. We will weigh up your claim immediately and if you have a valid claim for personal injury compensation, we will inform you of your options.
To find out more about the Claims Process in Ireland is simple and fast. It all starts with a conversation. So call us for a confidential chat on 1890 252467 or tell us what happened so that we can best advise and guide you.
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