Whilst there has been a lot of negative media commentary recently about personal injury litigation it is important to remember that if you are unlucky enough to sustain personal injuries as a result of another person’s negligence, for example in a road traffic accident or employment related accident, you are legally entitled to be compensated for the pain, suffering and emotional distress caused, which is defined as General Damages.
Suffering from a personal injury is one of the most challenging and distressing experiences a person can undergo.
In addition to General Damages, the injured party will also be entitled to be compensated for all out of pocket economic losses such as loss of earnings, property damage and medical expenses, directly linked to the injuries sustained.
Furthermore, there may be a loss of earnings portion to your claim, which related to potential loss of income incurred as a direct result of the personal injuries sustained from a third party’s negligence. In the most serious cases, your claim may not just be for losses that you have already incurred, but for losses which are ongoing, and which you will continue to suffer in the future as well.
Statute of Limitations:
Under the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004, personal injury claims must be commenced within two years of the accident. After this period, any claim arising from the accident is barred. Thus you have 2 years from the date of the accident or the date you are aware that there was a connection between the injuries sustained and the matters you believe to have caused the injuries.
Obligation to inform prospective Defendant of an Imminent Claim:
New legislation has recently been enacted that imposes an onerous obligation on Claimants to notify the negligent party, who they believe to be responsible for the injuries caused, of their intention to make a claim. This new rule relates to all personal injuries actions brought from April 2019 onwards, and replaces the previous two month rule that had been in place. Therefore it is important to make contact with your solicitor for legal advice as soon as possible after you have incurred personal injuries in order to comply with this new obligation to serve notice of a prospective claim, as failure to do so, while not fatal to your claim, may affect the level of compensation ultimately received in the event of a successful outcome.
Submitting your claim with The Injuries Board Process:
Every claim for personal injuries compensation must initially be lodged with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB), which is Ireland's independent state body which assesses personal injury compensation, within a period of two years from the date of when the accident occurred. Notably PIAB does not cover psychological injury or assess personal injury claims that are the result of medical negligence.
In order to process your claim with PIAB and avoid becoming statute barred, it is necessary to complete an Application Form, together with a Medical Report from your Doctor, and/or treating physician as the time of the accident. Additional documentation such as medical receipts, prescriptions forms etc should also be submitted together with copies of correspondence with the person you hold responsible for your injuries. There is fee of €45 payable when submitting claims to the Injuries Board.
PIAB will only assess a claim for compensation if the other party does not dispute liability and consents to the claim being assessed by PIAB.
PIAB then write to the other party (the respondent) who has 90 days to consent or decline to PIAB assessing your claim. Failure on the respondent’s part to respond is deemed consent. PIAB generally take approximately 9 months to complete an assessment excluding the initial 90 day period.
If after 90 days the other party declines to have the claim assessed by PIAB, an Authorisation will issue to enable you as the Claimant to proceed to court in order to finalise your claim.
If PIAB make an award 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.
The other party has 21 days to accept or reject the award and if it does not reply to the Board it is deemed to accept the award.
Effect of accepting the PIAB 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.
Effect of rejecting the PIAB award:
If you or the other party rejects or is deemed to reject the award, then you are entitled to proceed to court in order to take your case further. Please note that in the event of a successful outcome when the matter proceeds to court, the general rule is that you will be entitled to your legal costs paid separately to your compensation award. This differs to the process in PIAB, where in the event of an award being made in your favour, legal costs are not paid separately.
About the author: Kevin Sherry is an Associate Solicitor in the DGOD litigation department and can be contacted at email@example.com