If you have been injured in an incident or accident for which somebody else was even partly to blame, you may be entitled to make a personal injury claim. Ireland has a number of guidelines, limitations, and procedures to which you have to adhere if you wish to make a personal injury claim for compensation. Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, you must have sustained a real physical injury and someone else most be at least partly responsible.
Health, Safety and Personal Injury in Ireland
The causes of some accidents and the injuries sustained in them are immediately obvious, but in many cases injuries may not show straight away or may be acquired over a period of time. Examples of personal injuries which may result in a delayed personal injury claim for compensation include:
- If you digest harmful bacteria from insufficiently heated food in a restaurant, it may take several weeks before the bacteria multiply in sufficient quantities to make you ill.
- Should you hit your head in a fall and sustain brain damage which does not become apparent until advanced symptoms manifest.
- Your work requires you to perform frequent unchanging motions which cause the development of a repetitive strain injury.
Your first course of action when involved in an accident or developing the symptoms of any form of personal injury in Ireland should be to seek urgent medical attention. No amount of personal injury compensation can make up for a permanent disability which could have been prevented by timely medical intervention. As well as ensuring your physical wellbeing, your doctor’s medical notes will be used to support your personal injury claim for compensation.
Determining Liability for Personal Injury in Ireland
The second element that has to be satisfied in a claim for personal injury in Ireland is that somebody was either negligent or was lacking in their duty of care when your injuries were sustained.
Most commonly in claims for personal injury in Ireland, the negligent party is a motorist who was not paying due care and attention and caused an accident. But negligence could apply if you are a pedestrian who has tripped on a poorly maintained footpath, an employee who has not been provided with protective equipment when performing a hazardous task or even somebody using the gym who gets scalded by an unregulated shower after working out.
There are many instances in which you could be the victim of an accident but for a claim for personal injury in Ireland to be successful, you have to show that you sustained an injury directly due to the actions (or lack of them) of another person. Once these facts are established, your claim for personal injury can proceed.
Procedure for Personal Injury in Ireland
When making a claim for personal injury in Ireland, you have to apply to the Injuries Board Ireland, using their four page application form. The form is available in hard copy or online*. Your application for personal injury compensation has to be accompanied by your doctor’s medical notes and any accident report that has been prepared by the Gardai, your employer or proprietor of the establishment in which you sustained your injuries.
Once they have received your application form, the Injuries Board Ireland will arrange for you to have an independent medical examination – the results of which will be used to work out the amount of personal injury compensation you are entitled to, based on the Book of Quantum. If you and the negligent party agree on the amount of the assessment plus any special damages which you are entitled to claim, the Injuries Board Ireland will issue an Order to Pay, and your personal injury claim for compensation is settled.
*Please note that you cannot apply to the Injuries Board Ireland online when making a personal injury claim on behalf of a child, or in the event of a fatality.
Special Damages for Personal Injury in Ireland
Special damages are amounts which you can claim over and abpve the personal injury compensation awarded for the physical trauma you have experienced. These include any travel expenses you may have incurred getting treatment for your injuries, the costs of ongoing treatment or any loss of earnings that you have already suffered or may yet do so in the future.
Special damages can also be made for any psychological trauma you may have suffered. An example of this is if you are a motorcyclist and have lost your confidence to ride a bike again.
Contributory Negligence for Personal Injury in Ireland
One significant factor that will delay your claim for personal injury compensation is when the negligent party claims that you contributed to your injuries by your own lack of care. In a road traffic accident, this could be that you did not wear a seatbelt when driving, or, in a work environment, if you did not fully follow the company’s health and safety guidelines when performing a hazardous task.
There are also cases where more than one party is liable for your injuries, and the award of personal injury compensation has to be paid by several defendants. In cases where there may be an instance of contributory negligence, the Injuries Board Ireland will not assess your claim for personal injury in Ireland, they will issue you with an authorisation to pursue your claim through the court system.
The Courts and Personal Injury in Ireland
There will be circumstances when your claim for personal injury in Ireland has to be litigated in the courts. As well as any issues over split liability, claims will be referred by the Injuries Board Ireland if the negligent party denies their responsibility for your injuries or there is disagreement over the amount they have assessed for personal injury compensation. All cases for medical negligence are also filed directly with the courts, as these claims for personal injury in Ireland are resolved by medical opinion rather than physical evidence.
If your claim for personal injury in Ireland has to go before the courts, you will require legal representation. It is in your best interests to take legal advice before completing and submitting your application form to the Injuries Board Ireland to ensure that the strongest possible case is compiled before you commence your claim. Even if it was several months before the Injuries Board Ireland decided that they will decline your application for personal injury compensation, you will have to start all over again if you have not already engaged the services of a solicitor.
The Statute of Limitations and Personal Injury in Ireland
The Statute of Limitations is the law which decrees that if you are making a claim for personal injury in Ireland you only have a certain amount of time from the “date of knowledge” of your injuries to do so. Currently the period of time in which you have to make a claim for personal injury in Ireland is restricted to two years. Although this may seem like a long time, if your claim requires expert medical testimony and your expert is not available for six months because he is involved with another case, you can run the risk of having your claim for personal injury compensation disqualified just because you have run out of time.
The “date of knowledge” refers to the date on which you discovered you were injured. In a car accident the date of knowledge is the date on which you had your accident: if you have contracted mesothelioma cancer from working with asbestos, the date on which you were diagnosed with the cancer is your date of knowledge.
Children and Personal Injury in Ireland
The Statute of Limitations applies different rules for children; they have two years from the day on which they reach the age of majority (currently 18) in which to make a claim for personal injury in Ireland. Parents and guardians can make a claim on their behalf acting as the child’s “next friend”. However, all awards of personal injury compensation in Ireland to children have to be approved by a court before any money can be paid.
Third Party Capture and Personal Injury in Ireland
Third party capture is the act of an insurance company approaching you with an offer of early settlement when you have made a claim for personal injury in Ireland. The insurance company will represent the negligent party in your personal injury claim: usually, this is an attempt by the insurance company to save themselves money by making an inappropriate offer for your injuries. An immediate payment of personal injury compensation may be welcome at a time when you have been injured and are unable to work, and it may appear to be a fair and adequate amount. But, as soon as your specialist personal injuries solicitor contacts the insurance company, any amounts offered will most likely go up significantly. This is clearly another occasion when it is in your best interests to use the services of a solicitor to ensure you receive a fair and adequate settlement.
Solicitors and Personal Injury in Ireland
With the potential for so many obstacles when making a claim for personal injury in Ireland, it is easy to see why over 90% of people making a claim for personal injury in Ireland choose to have the assistance of a specialised personal injury claims solicitor.
Solicitors are the best people to advise you whether you have a claim for personal injury which is worth your while to pursue. They will explain to you the most effective way of completing the application form to the Injuries Board Ireland even if you do not want them to deal with the paperwork for you.
Solicitors who have been engaged from the very beginning of your claim will be able to represent you more knowledgably in court litigation and negotiate on your behalf should an insurance company try to tempt you with an offer of early settlement. They will ensure that the strongest possible case is built to maximise your claim for personal injury in Ireland and that you receive all the special damages you are entitled to. In every area, and at every stage of making a claim for personal injury compensation, it is recommended that you engage the services of a solicitor and use their expertise to make sure your claim has the best chances of success.