If you have been injured in an accident for which you believe somebody else was at fault, or sustained a loss due to somebody else’s negligence, you are entitled to make a personal injury compensation claim. However, it is recommended that before you consider applying to the Injuries Board Ireland or issuing proceedings in a court of law, you seek professional personal injury information from a specialist personal injury solicitor.
There are a number of elements to a personal injury claim which you may not be aware of and, although some of these are covered in the text below, you could find yourself undercompensated if you make a claim for personal injury compensation without full knowledge of the law and what damages you might be able to claim in your own personal circumstances. While friends and relatives may be eager to help you with advice based on their own experiences, there is no substitute for personal injury information from a legal professional.
Your Health Comes First
Irrespective of how you have been injured, your first priority must be that of your health. No amount of personal injury compensation will make up for a lifelong health issue which could have been prevented by timely medical intervention. Therefore, whenever you are injured in an accident, ensure your first action is to visit the accident and emergency department of your local hospital or seek an early appointment with your family GP.
Even if you feel that you have walked away from an accident with no more than a minor bump, you should still seek a medical examination as soon as possible. Symptoms of some injuries (whiplash for example) may not manifest for more than a week, during which time you may be aggravating the injury by excessive use of damaged soft tissue. You will not receive any more personal injury compensation because you neglected to have a medical examination for two weeks after your accident and may even be accused of contributory negligence which will reduce how much personal injury compensation you receive.
Do I Have a Claim?
Once you have received treatment for your injury, you should speak with a personal injury solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity to establish whether you indeed have a personal injury compensation claim which is worth your while to pursue. Your solicitor will ask you questions relating to the circumstances of your accident, and request further personal injury information to help him determine that you have a valid personal injury claim.
Your personal injury solicitor may want to know why you believe the person against whom you wish to claim has been negligent, and if documentary evidence exists of your accident – such as a Gardai report or an entry in your employer’s “Accident Report Book”. It is not, at this stage, vital that you have this personal injury information to hand, as your solicitor can make enquiries about these in the preparation of your personal injury claim, but they will help speed up the process if you have them.
Your Personal Injury Information
Your personal injury information is often as important as the circumstances surrounding your personal injury claim. Your solicitor will want to know what impact your injury has had on your quality of life and if you are no longer able to participate in certain activities – even temporarily – due to your injury. The “loss of amenity” can be a substantial factor in personal injury compensation claims and does not only relate to your participation in hobbies and sports.
If, for example, you have children or elderly relatives that you are unable to care for due to your condition, you may be able to include the costs of agency care in a personal injury compensation claim. More importantly, many people who experience a physical trauma also develop post traumatic stress disorder and, if your quality of life has deteriorated due to anxiety or depression, this personal injury information also needs to be included in a personal injury compensation claim.
Claims and Negligence
Claims for personal injury compensation are made to either the Injuries Board Ireland or through the courts – depending on whether there is an issue over negligence. Personal injury compensation claims where the negligent party denies their responsibility for your injuries – or claims that you contributed to them by your own lack of care – will be declined by the Injuries Board Ireland, as will any personal injury claims revolving around medical or professional negligence.
When claims are declined by the Injuries Board Ireland you will need legal representation to pursue your case through the courts. Even though a personal injury solicitor will prepare each personal injury claim with the possibility of litigation in mind, it is in your best interests to pre-warn him when you feel that there may be a dispute over negligence. The only other times a court appearance may be necessary is if there is a disagreement over how much personal injury compensation has been assessed by the Injuries Board Ireland or when a personal injury compensation settlement has to be approved in court.
How Much Personal Injury Compensation
One of the most important pieces of personal injury information a solicitor can give to his client is how much personal injury compensation they expect them to receive. There are two reasons for providing this significant personal injury information at an early stage:-
- Injuries Board Assessment – The Injuries Board Ireland will issue you with a Notice of Assessment once they have concluded their process and you have just 28 days to confirm whether it is acceptable to you. If you know in advance how much personal injury compensation you are entitled to receive, you can judge immediately if their assessment represents a fair and adequate amount.
- Third Party Capture – The act of an insurance company making a direct offer to settle your personal injury compensation claim is known as “Third Party Capture”. Usually these offers are inappropriate to your injuries and their consequences, but if you have been advised of this vital personal injury information, you can avoid the risk of being undercompensated.
Children’s Person Injury Information
One area of personal injury compensation which differs from the norm is when children are involved. If your child has been injured in an accident for which they were not wholly to blame, and they are awarded a personal injury compensation settlement, the settlement has first to be approved by a judge before payment can be made. As you will need legal representation in the court appearance to conclude your child’s personal injury claim, you may as well engage a personal injury solicitor from the very beginning of the claim.
Your solicitor will provide helpful personal injury information about your child’s claim, such as applications to the Injuries Board Ireland have to be processed through the post – they cannot be submitted on line. They will also advise you that children are not restricted in how long they have to make a personal injury claim by the Statute of Limitations (they have two years from their eighteenth birthday in which to make a personal injury claim) and that they can still make a claim at any time while they are a minor, but will have to be represented by a parent or guardian acting as their “next friend”.
Personal Injury Information Summary
No two personal injury compensation claims are exactly alike and this is why well-meaning advice from family and friends may seem irrelevant or contradictory. Identical injuries may affect different people in different ways, and the individual consequences of an injury can have a devastating effect to one person while being shrugged off by another.
This is why it is essential that you consult an experienced personal injury solicitor after you have been injured in an accident and establish that you have a valid personal injury claim and determine how much compensation you are likely to receive. Personal injury information such as this can save you time, trouble and potentially your financial security.
Personal injury compensation will not return a loved one or bring you back to full health. What it can do is ease the financial burden of being out of work or having to pay for expensive care and medical treatment and enable you to focus on healing. You can only be assured of receiving an adequate amount of compensation when you have comprehensive personal injury information.