Personal Injury Claims in Ireland
Since 2004, the process for all personal injury claims in Ireland (except those involving medical negligence) has been to apply for a compensation assessment to the Injuries Board Ireland – previously the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. This system was introduced to reduce the backlog of personal injury claims in Ireland; a backlog which had clogged up the court system and which were taking an average of three years to resolve.
In the following three years, the Injuries Board Ireland cleared the majority of outstanding personal injury claims in Ireland and reduced the average length of time before the victim of a personal injury received their compensation to a little over six months. The Injuries Board Ireland, through the methods introduced to assess personal injury claims in Ireland, now saves the Irish taxpayers more than 40 million Euros each year in litigation fees.
Personal Injury Claims “Culture”
Due to the huge backlog of outstanding personal injury claims that were resolved by the Injuries Board, Ireland unfairly developed a reputation for having a personal injury claims culture. Statistics from the Injuries Board Ireland web site reveal that the number of annual personal injury claims in Ireland fell from more than 30,000 (pre-2007) to 26,964 in 2010. This reduction in the number of claims and savings in litigation costs saved the insurance industry 17 per cent of its overheads in 2006 (Financial Regulator’s Private Motor Insurance Statistics) – sadly, a saving not fully passed on to Irish motorists.
Statistics produced by the Road Safety Authority and the Central Statistics Office for the Health and Safety Authority show that both the number of road traffic accidents and workplace injuries that resulted in an absence of three days or longer have declined significantly over the past decade (despite there being been a 53 per cent increase in the number of registered vehicles in Ireland in the same period), and therefore claims that the country has developed a “negligence culture” can also be dismissed.
Making Personal Injuries Claims
Making personal injury claims in Ireland is a straightforward process, but at a time when you may be distracted by your injuries or emotionally traumatised by an injury to a loved one, it is in your best interests to use the services of an experienced personal injury solicitor to ensure that you receive your maximum entitlement of personal injury compensation.
As mentioned above, nearly all claims for personal injury compensation in Ireland have to be initially submitted to the Injuries Board Ireland. Personal injury claims can be completed online or via the post, but have to be submitted with a doctor’s report and receipts to justify your claim for special damages. It is a good idea to attach any other documentation you may have – such as a Gardai traffic accident report – to support your claim for personal injury compensation.
Once the Injuries Board Ireland has acknowledged your personal injury claim, it will contact the person cited as the negligent party in order to obtain their consent to assess your personal injury claim. When consent is received, the Injuries Board Ireland may require you to go for a further independent medical examination to confirm the extent of your injuries and how long they may take to heal.
Their assessment of your “General Damages” will be made based on the Book of Quantum – a publication which lists various injuries and gives them a financial value based on their severity – after which they will send you and the negligent party a Notice of Assessment. If both parties agree on the amount assessed, a Notice to Pay is issued and your personal injury claim is settled.
Personal Injury Claims and Litigation
Litigation is required for personal injury claims in Ireland in a number of circumstances. The first is where your personal injury has been caused by medical or professional negligence. The Injuries Board Ireland will decline to assess personal injury claims of this nature as they are determined by professional opinion rather than tangible fact. If your professional negligence personal injury claim is submitted to the Injuries Board Ireland, they will issue you with an “Authorisation” to pursue your claim through the court system.
You will also be issued with an Authorisation if the negligent party denies their responsibility for your injuries, or claims that you were partially responsible for them yourself. The Injuries Board Ireland does not arbitrate in personal injury claims in which there is a dispute over liability, nor if there is a disagreement about how much personal injury compensation you have been assessed to receive. Issues such as these will have to be argued in front of a judge or negotiated between the two parties.
You will also have to appear in court (although not for litigation) if the personal injury claim is in respect of a child. The settlement of children’s personal injury claims in Ireland – whether assessed by the Injuries Board Ireland or negotiated between the parties – has to be approved by a judge before payment can be made. In all cases where litigation or approval is required, it is necessary to have legal representation in the form of a personal injury solicitor.
Personal Injury Claims and Insurance Companies
Nearly all the personal injury claims in Ireland are settled against the negligent party’s insurance company – whether it is car insurance, medical insurance, public liability insurance or any other type. Your personal injury solicitor will usually make contact with the insurance company in question to see if a quick and satisfactory resolution can be achieved for, even though the Injuries Board Ireland’s process takes a little over six months to complete, often a personal injury compensation settlement can be achieved in less time.
You should however be cautious of direct approaches made by the negligent party’s insurance company soon after your injury has occurred. Direct offers of early settlement, especially when you are unaware of how much personal injury compensation you are entitled to, are frequently in favour of the insurance company, and once you have accepted their offer you cannot go back for more if the amount of compensation paid to you is inadequate for your needs.
Personal Injury Claims Summary
The majority of personal injury claims in Ireland have to initially be processed via the Injuries Board Ireland. If there is a dispute about liability or your personal injury claim concerns professional negligence, you will have to pursue your claim in court. Should only the value of a personal injury compensation claim be in question, you may be able to avoid litigation if your personal injury solicitor is able to negotiate a suitable solution with the liable party’s insurance company.
Direct approaches by insurance companies should always be referred to your solicitor. If you have discussed your claim for personal injury compensation with a solicitor immediately after you have received treatment for an injury, you will know how much personal injury compensation you should be entitled to receive. This information will also be valuable to you when the Injuries Board Ireland makes their assessment. In all cases of personal injury claims in Ireland, it is in your best interests to speak with a solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity.