Introduction to High Court Settlements Ireland
Before reading about high court settlements in Ireland it is important to realise that more than 80 per cent of personal injury cases do not even go to court as they are successfully settled first. This effectively means that the defendant in a personal injury case offers the plaintiff a certain amount of money for compensation to settle the case out of court given that the plaintiff accepts that amount.
A case that ends up in the high court is likely to be complex, because in Ireland most cases (with the exception of medical negligence cases) must first go through the Injuries Board for assessment and the majority of cases are settled through negotiations between the legal representatives of all parties involved in a personal injury compensation claim.
The Role of the Injuries Board
The Injuries Board Ireland is a government entity which evaluates the amount of compensation due to an injured party and has no connection with high court settlements Ireland. The Injuries Board does not make any decisions regarding who is to blame for an accident and any subsequent injuries.
The Injuries Board process has three phases. First, the injured party must submit their claim along with a medical report and proof of special damages.
When the Injuries Board have received the injured party’s application, they will contact the respondent, to request their permission to make an assessment of value. If the respondent agrees, the assessment goes ahead. If the respondent says no, the Injuries Board closes the injured party’s file and issues them with an “Authorisation” – the document which is needed to take a personal injuries case to court.
In the respondent does, however, agree to assessment, the Injuries Board will then make an assessment of the plaintiff’s value, which is sent to both sides once completed. If both agree, the Injuries Board will issue an order to pay. If one, the other or both sides reject the assessment, the injured party’s file would be closed and they would be issued an Authorisation.
When High Court Settlements Ireland is Necessary
The rejection of an Injuries Board assessment and subsequent failure to agree on a settlement through negotiations can lead to high court settlements in Ireland. However, there are other times when it is necessary for a compensation claims case to be taken to the high court.
Sometimes a case is escalated to a high court claim when a solicitor advises that the case should be scheduled to be taken to a judge, in some cases to force a settlement from the negligent party. In cases such as these, an acceptable settlement may be agreed on in last minute negotiations.
Medical negligence claims are often taken to court, especially when there is uncertainty whether liability for death or severe injury exists. Claims for medical negligence can sometimes be hard to prove, especially when the operation performed may have carried known risks or with complex births when the attending obstetrician deemed injury or death to be unavoidable. In the event of medical negligence being denied, or if it is evidently a complicated case, the matter may be escalated and taken before a judge.
Further Examples of Eligible High Court Cases
High court settlements in Ireland can be given for cases where an employee has contracted a serious or terminal illness as a result of their work environment. A key example is asbestos related diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma which can take many years to develop, and during the intervening time, the company may have ceased trading. There have been recent cases where the plaintiff was forced to seek high court compensation as after insurance companies representing the negligent entity agreed to pay a settlement as ordered by the courts, they later failed to produce the money as it was withheld on the basis that the claim was prompted by the onset of disease rather than exposure to asbestos.
Even when a third party has been deemed completely liable in initial stages of a compensation claim, there are some instances when the case is brought to the high court. A common reason is that compensation costs cannot be agreed on and it may be necessary for the plaintiff to take the matter to the high court in order to receive satisfactory compensation. Also, high court cases may be the only option to ensure money is paid to cover medical costs and additional expenses in cases involving uninsured drivers.
The threat of a long drawn out legal battle and the costs attributed may make it worthwhile for a third party to settle the claim out of court, rather than risk the significant additional costs that come with taking the matter before a judge. Failure at this stage will certainly have financial consequences for the plaintiff if their claim is unsuccessful at this stage.
Although the costs associated with high court settlements in Ireland is often a major concern for plaintiffs, how long it will take to actually receive a settlement is another common worry. Protracted cases concerning serious injury where there is an ever increasing medical bill can lead to significant financial strain on the plaintiff.
It may, however, be possible for the plaintiff to get an interim payment in cases where negligence has been admitted either by an employer, hospital or other third party and the only issue lies with agreeing on the final settlement to be paid. If the case is particularly strong interim payments may be applicable, even where negligence is denied.
Interim payments are arranged to cover continuing medical expenses, transport or for fitting a home with essential equipment to treat serious illness. These payments are believed necessary where an employee must take time off work without payment if they are not involved in a sick pay scheme or when recovery and rehabilitation has surpassed the highest permissible claim period.
The Benefits of a High Court Injury Compensation Solicitor
In order to receive high court settlements in Ireland, it is of vital importance to choose an experienced solicitor in cases where liability is denied, where a settlement cannot be achieved or in highly complex cases. Specialist legal advice is always recommended when fighting complicated industrial disease claims and in cases of medical negligence.
It is possible that high court cases may not rule in favour of the plaintiff and there is a risk attributed to taking a case before a judge. Selecting an expert high court solicitor can make all the difference, not just for the opportunity of a successful claim, but also to how much compensation is eventually awarded. Therefore, it is essential that the plaintiff receives the best possible legal counsel to increase the probability of a successful claim.
For cases involving professional, legal or medical negligence a high court injury compensation solicitor will have to present a case on the basis of opinion rather than fact, and will endeavour to determine that “on the balance of all probability” a professional failed in their duty of care and that their action or lack of action caused injury or loss.