Personal Injury – separating the accident prone from the accident affected.

You would be forgiven in judging newspaper headlines relating to personal injury claims, and feeling that some awards given might seem overly generous to what you think sounds like a hyped up injury. The good news is, there has been a crackdown on this compensation culture and this clampdown has been a welcome change for businesses, organisations and private citizens, crippled with ever-increasing insurance premiums. With that being said, it’s important not to let scepticism or scrutiny, deny the justice of the genuine claimants who should be compensated and justly so.

Cases can vary hugely in there severity - loss of life, loss of limbs and loss of mobility are obviously among the most serious before the courts but the range of issues for some victims might not be as obvious or as easy to work out as you think it would be. For anyone who is unable to work due to an injury and those who have expensive and ongoing medical needs, it is essential to pursue a personal injury claim using a solicitor with experience in the field, so that their chances of success are maximised and fairly compensated for.

The first thing to do is find out if you have a case. The Injuries Board is the first route that you must follow when seeking compensation for your personal injuries.

It is a statutory body which provides independent assessment of personal injury compensation for victims of workplace, motor and public liability accidents. It does not cover psychological injury or assess personal injury claims that are the result of medical negligence. Being involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault and becoming ill or injured as a result can lead to an array of emotional and financial problems - instructing a solicitor to help with it, can get the best outcome within your circumstances.

Time is of the essence. In general, you have two years from the accident or incident you are claiming for to make a claim through the Injuries Board, or through the courts.

If an insurance company contacts you immediately after an accident, do not settle before seeking legal and medical advice. You may not be fully aware of your legal rights and entitlements, or even have an accurate picture of your injuries or suffering straight away.

Legal and medical advice should always be sought in order to receive appropriate compensation for your current and future needs as a result of the injuries you have experienced.

Medical care is a must. Seeking medical attention after becoming ill or being injured through no fault of your own, is not just important for your own personal welfare, this documentation and a doctor’s reports will be beneficial to help prove your claim. Your doctor will be required to fill out a medical report if you progress with your claim.   

Assessment. As previously stated, the clock is ticking and you have 24 months to lodge your claim with the Injuries Board. Once this is done, the clock is put on hold and the Injuries Board will begin to assess a claim. They will write to the other party who then have 90 days to consent or decline to an assessment. Failure to respond is deemed consent.

If after 90 days the other party declines to have the claim assessed by the Injuries Board, then an authorisation will issue. It is important to note that upon the issuing of this authorisation, time begins to run again. That is why it is important to take legal advice so that you do not run the risk of becoming statute barred.

Medical Assessment. If the Injuries Board do not assess your claim within nine months they have the authority to extend the time to fifteen months in which to assess the claim. They must notify you of this.

Claims are assessed using all the medical evidence, based on their own independent medical reports, and your own doctor’s medical report when making their award. The level of compensation awarded for particular injuries is based on what’s known as the book of quantum and any out of pocket expenses you have incurred (doctor’s fees, physiotherapy, loss of earnings etc.) should be included.

Time limit to accept or reject the award. Once the award is decided by the Board it is communicated to you and the other party. You have 28 days to accept or reject the award and if you do not reply to the Board you are deemed to reject the award and the same rules apply for the other party.

Accepting or rejecting the award. If you and the other party accept the award, the claim is settled and an order to pay is provided to the other party. This document, which is copied to you, has the same effect as a court judgment and proceedings may be issued on foot of it, in the event of non-payment. If it is rejected by you or the other party, you are entitled to go to court immediately.

Making personal injury claims is everyone’s right under the law, and if successful, the award will go a long way towards helping you get your life back on track. If you think you or a loved one has a case, protect your rights by talking to a solicitor today.