Introduction to Car Injury Compensation
Car injury compensation claims are the most common type of personal injury claim made to the Injuries Board Ireland – representing 72% of all applications made to them in the past three years. The average value of an assessment for car injury compensation during the same period has been a little over €22,000 – comprised of both general damages for the pain and suffering experienced by the victim and special damages for out of pocket expenses.
Although there has been a significant increase in the volume of registered vehicles on Ireland’s roads (53% in ten years according the Road Safety Authority annual report), the number of serious accidents reported by An Garda Síochána have decreased and claims for car injury compensation have remained steady – contradicting the suggestion that Ireland is developing a “compensation culture” or that as a nation we are poor drivers.
Qualifying for Car Injury Compensation
In order to qualify for car injury compensation, you must have sustained some form of injury as the result of a vehicle collision for which you were not entirely to blame. To experience a near-miss, unless it results in a severe psychological trauma, is not sufficient to make a car injury compensation claim. It is important that, whenever possible, you exchange names, addresses and insurance details with other vehicles involved in a road traffic accident and make an independent note of the vehicle registration plates.
If a negligent driver is unwilling to provide you with this information, do not put yourself at risk of further injury through confrontation. Some car insurance policies include clauses which tell drivers not to admit liability and usually the details can be obtained from a Gardai accident report or roadside cameras. If it turns out that the driver responsible for your injuries does not have car insurance, a claim for car injury compensation can be made to the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI).
Your Health Comes Before Car Injury Compensation
In serious road traffic accidents, an ambulance and the Gardai would normally be summoned, and you would receive medical attention at the site before being taken to hospital. Should the collision not be considered serious enough to warrant an ambulance, you should go immediately to the nearest accident and emergency department for an examination, even when you believe you have walked away from the accident unscathed.
Some whiplash-type injuries can take many weeks to manifest and, all the time you are unaware of your condition, you could be making it worse by performing everyday activities. Not only is having a medical examination the safest option for your health, should the negligent party claim that you contributed to your injuries by not seeking medical attention, the length of time that it takes for your car injury compensation claim to be resolved could be greatly extended.
Procedures Prior to a Car Injury Compensation Claim
Before you make a claim for car injury compensation, you should obtain a copy of the Gardai accident report. In less serious collisions, the Gardai may decline to attend – preferring to allow the drivers to deal with the formalities themselves – and so it will be necessary for you first to make a report of the event and then take a copy of the record in the “Accident Report Book”. This copy will be used to support your claim for car insurance compensation.
You should also get a copy of the medical notes made about your injury, for although a doctor’s form is submitted with your application for car injury insurance, the notes that were written at the time will be more relevant to your injuries at the time of the accident (and possible your mental state of health as well) and can be used to counter any claims of contributory negligence. You should also speak with a solicitor about how much car injury compensation you are entitled to.
Making a Car Injury Compensation Claim
Claims for car injury compensation are made to the Injuries Board Ireland. They will first notify the negligent driver to advise them of your car injury claim and, if there is no dispute over liability, the Injuries Board Ireland will make an assessment of your car injury compensation claim. Although you may have submitted a copy of your medical notes and a form supplied by your doctor, they may still require you to attend an independent medical examination to ascertain the rate of your recovery.
Once this stage has been completed, the Injuries Board Ireland will issue a Notice of Assessment, advising you and the negligent party how much car injury compensation they feel you are entitled to receive. If this figure is accepted by both parties, the Injuries Board Ireland will send the negligent party an Order to Pay and you will receive your car injury compensation. If either party believes the assessment is in appropriate, or there is a dispute over liability, the Injuries Board Ireland will issue you with an authorisation to pursue your car injury claim through the courts.
Litigation and Car Injury Compensation
You need to have legal representation to pursue a car injury compensation claim through the courts. If you have not already been in touch with a solicitor, now is the time to do so. The courts frown on car injury claims referred to them when only the amount of compensation to be paid is in dispute, so your solicitor will attempt to negotiate with the negligent party’s car insurance company to have the dispute settled quickly by negotiation.
If you have instructed a solicitor at the beginning of your car injury compensation claim, he will have already been in touch with the negligent party’s insurance company, having constructed the strongest possible car injury claim on your behalf. He will use the information provided in police reports and by witness statements to overcome the objection of liability or negotiate a percentage settlement when you have been partly responsible for your injuries. However, sometimes it will be necessary to go through the courts in order to get the maximum car injury compensation settlement, and your solicitor will explain the procedures to you.
Passengers and Car Injury Compensation
Any passengers that are injured in a road traffic accident are also entitled to claim car injury compensation, and if you have been partly at fault in the accident they can even claim it from you. Women and children passengers are particularly susceptible to whiplash injuries because of their weaker necks and because they rarely get that split second to brace prior to an impact as they do not have their eyes on the road.
Separate claims for car injury compensation should be made by each individual injured in a road traffic accident (even when you all belong to the same family) as certain injuries will affect different victims in different ways and everybody’s personal circumstances are different – a factor which will influence how much special damages are awarded in a car injury compensation claim.
Children and Car Injury Compensation
Children have until two years from their eighteenth birthdays in which to make a claim for car injury compensation (adults have only two years) although it is not advised that one wait this long. Any delay in seeking compensation after an accident can complicate issue should the faded memories of witnesses be relied upon in court or evidence removed at the scene of an accident which would have supported the child’s claim.
Children can make their claim for car injury compensation through a parent or guardian acting as their “next friend” for any injuries sustained in a road traffic accident. With the exception that online applications for assessment are not permitted by the Injuries Board Ireland, the procedures are exactly the same. However, any settlement of car injury compensation – whether assessed by the Injuries Board Ireland, agreed by negotiation or litigated in court – has to be approved by a judge before payment can be made.
Car Injury Compensation Summary
Car injury compensation claims are the most common form of compensation claim in Ireland. Despite this, it is important that you follow all the procedures prior to making a car injury compensation claim to ensure that you receive a fair and adequate settlement. It is always in your best interests to discuss your case with a solicitor before making a car injury claim, but only once you have had a medical examination and are receiving treatment for any injury you sustained.
Passengers and children in your vehicle are entitled to claim car injury compensation for injuries sustained in the same accident, but must do so individually to have their claims assessed by the Injuries Board Ireland. If there are any disputes over liability or how much car injury compensation the Injuries Board Ireland believes you should receive, you may have to go through litigation in order to get a satisfactory resolution but, in many cases, a suitable settlement can be negotiated between your solicitor and the negligent party’s legal representative.