Majority Still Using Solicitors for Personal Injury Claims says Departing Injuries Board Head

The outgoing Chief Executive of the Injuries Board has acknowledged that the majority of claimants are still using solicitors for personal injury claims.

Patricia Byron acknowledged the continuing use of solicitors for personal injury claims in an interview published in the Irish Times this morning. Saying that “people still think that they need to go to a solicitor to send in a claim”, Ms Byron said that she was unsure whether that was due to a lack of knowledge or understanding of the Injuries Board system.

She went on to explain that the Injuries Board system is paper-based, with no oral or adversarial presentations required. When assessing a claim, Ms Byron stated, the Injuries Board does not take into account whether the claim has been sent in by a person with no legal training or whether the claimant has used solicitors for personal injury claims.

“It is an administrative process” said Ms Byron, who is stepping down from being the Chief Executive of the Injuries Board after ten years in charge. During that ten years, the Injuries Board claims to have delivered more than €1 billion in savings, reduced the cost of many personal injury claims in Ireland and reduced the time it takes for a claimant to receive compensation from three years to a little more than seven months.

However, the most recent figures released by the Injuries Board tend to support Ms Byron´s statement that the majority of claimants are still using solicitors for personal injury claims.

Only 39% of Personal Injury Claims Resolved by Injuries Board

Of 31,576 applications for assessment received in 2014, just 12,420 personal injury claims were resolved via the Injuries Board system. Not all of the remaining 61% of personal injury claims were resolved by solicitors, but those with liability issues or disputes over how much compensation the Injuries Board had assessed a claim for would have needed litigation to be settled.

Other claims (unfortunately) would have been resolved by third-party capture – where an insurance company makes an unsolicited approach to a claimant with a low offer of compensation in return for a quick settlement – while some claims will have dropped out of the system if the claimant did not have a genuine claims for compensation and gave up on their claim once liability was rejected.

Solicitor Defends Professional Guidance with Personal Injury Claims

In the Irish Times article, a representative from Dublin law firm Tyrrell Solicitors was invited to add his own perspective to Ms Byron´s admission that the majority of claimants were still using solicitors for personal injury claims. Roderick Tyrrell likened making personal injury claims to cutting your own hair, fixing your own leaking pipe or repairing a car engine.

Mr Tyrrell acknowledged that the Injuries Board provided a service for straightforward low-level claims, but when cases become more complex and there are “potential stumbling blocks” – like the value of a personal injury claim or identifying the legal entity against who to make a claim – claimants, insisted Mr Tyrrell, need guidance.