Personal Injury Court

Personal injury court is often the last resort of solicitors when trying to resolve a claim for personal injury compensation. Wherever possible, a personal injury solicitor will attempt to obtain a fair and adequate settlement through the Injuries Board Ireland or via negotiation with the negligent party’s insurance company However, often the threat of personal injury court can swing a negotiation in your favour if the insurance company believe that their client is liable for your injuries.

There are three tiers of personal injury court in Ireland. District Courts resolve personal injury claims with an anticipated value of up to €6,348.69 and if your claim for personal injury compensation is expected to result in a settlement higher than that amount it will be heard in a Circuit Court. The only occasion on which your personal injury compensation claim will be heard in a High Court is if it is probable that you will be awarded more than €38,092.14 – and only then if the legal representatives of both parties fail to agree on a resolution in a Circuit Court.

Potential Personal Injury Court Cases

There are a number of reasons why a personal injury compensation claim could potentially need litigation in court. The most common reason is personal injury claims involving medical negligence which require expert testimony to prove that a medical practitioner acted negligently. Other professional negligence claims also require the same level of verification and any personal injury claim submitted to the Injuries Board Ireland will be declined.

Claims in which the question of fault is at issue will also be rejected by the Injuries Board Ireland. This could arise in three different circumstances:-

  • The negligent party rejects that they were at fault for your injuries
  • The negligent party claims that you contributed to your injuries by your own lack of care
  • There is more than one negligent party

In all of these circumstances, a personal injury solicitor will try to avoid personal injury court by constructing the strongest possible case in support of your personal injury claim and resolving any issues by negotiation. Where there is a dispute over how much personal injury compensation you have assessed to receive by the Injuries Board Ireland, your personal injury solicitor will also try to negotiate an adequate settlement before litigation in a personal injury court is necessary.

Personal Injury Court and the Statute of Limitations

As a result of the Courts and Civil Liability Act 2004, the period of time you have in which to make a claim for personal injury compensation is restricted to two years from the “Date of Knowledge” that you sustained an injury or loss. This “Statute of Limitations” starts running from the date on which you know that you have been injured – for example this could be the day on which you were involved in a road traffic accident, or it could be the day on which you were diagnosed with a workplace acquired disease many years after you worked in the environment that was responsible for your illness.

The Statute of Limitations relates to the period of time you have in which to make a personal injury claim to the Injuries Board Ireland or issue proceedings at a personal injury court. If the Injuries Board Ireland rejects your application for assessment, the clock does not starting ticking straight away – there is a six month grace period for your solicitor to prepare the strongest possible case on your behalf. If you have been in touch with a personal injury solicitor from the very beginning of your personal injury claim, the Statute of Limitations will not present a problem to you.

Personal Injury Court and Children

The Statute of Limitations does not apply to children under the age of eighteen, who can make a claim for personal injury compensation at any time up until they reach twenty (The age of majority plus two years). However, it is always better to make a personal injury claim as soon as possible after an injury has been sustained, and children can do so if they are represented by a parent or guardian acting as their “next friend”. The same procedures concerning litigation in a personal injury court apply if the claim is for medical negligence or liability is disputed.

All personal injury compensation settlements where children are the benefactor have to be approved by a judge before payment can be made – so attendance at a personal injury court is unavoidable. Sometimes the judge will rule that the compensation settlement be paid into court funds for the child to receive at age eighteen, with amounts which are required for medical treatment or education being released immediately to the parents.

Personal Injury Court and Insurance Companies

Personal injury court is an expensive way to resolve a personal injury claim and, frequently, insurance companies representing the negligent party will make a direct approach to somebody who has just been injured due to their client’s negligence. Their approach usually comes with an offer of early settlement for your personal injury compensation claim under the guise that it is better for the claimant to receive their money sooner rather than later.

However, this is an action known as “third party capture” – designed to save the insurance company money on court fees. They would not be approaching you if they did not think that their client was liable for your injuries but, rather than offer you a fair personal injury compensation settlement, they will hope to get away with paying you less than you are entitled to. You cannot go back for more once a compensation settlement runs out, so it is always in your best interests to discuss your entitlement to compensation with a personal injury solicitor – even if it is just to establish a value to your injury.

Personal Injury Court Summary

At a time when you may still be recovering from your injuries or emotionally traumatised following an injury to a loved one, personal injury solicitors will avoid exposing you to a personal injury court wherever possible. The prospect of facing somebody who has been responsible for your injuries and then prepared to deny it is not pleasant and why personal injury solicitors prefer to resolve cases by negotiation.

However, in some cases, litigation in a personal injury court is necessary to determine a fair and adequate personal injury compensation settlement, and every personal injury claim that is accepted by a solicitor will be prepared with this conclusion in mind. An appearance in a personal injury court is required when a child is the claimant in a personal injury claim, but this more often than not for the approval of personal injury compensation and represents the conclusion of your claim. In order to be assured of receiving your maximum possible entitlement of personal injury compensation, it is in your best interests to speak with a solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity once you have received treatment for an injury that you where not wholly responsible for.