What does Personal Injury* Mean?
Personal Injury is a legal term for an injury to the body, mind or emotions, as opposed to an injury to property.
The term personal injury also incorporates medical and dental accidents (which lead to numerous medical negligence cases every year) and conditions that are often classified as industrial disease cases, including asbestosis and peritoneal mesothelioma, chest diseases (e.g. emphysema, pneumoconiosis, silicosis, chronic bronchitis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and chronic obstructive airways disease), vibration white finger, occupational deafness, occupational stress, contact dermatitis, and repetitive strain injury cases.
If the negligence of another party can be proved, the injured party may be entitled to monetary compensation from that party. Where a person dies as result of the wrongful act of another a Fatal Injury action may be brought by the Personal Representative or a Statutory Dependent of the Deceased.
What are the most common types of personal injury cases?
The most common types of personal injury cases are road traffic accidents, accidents at work, tripping accidents (public liability), assault cases, accidents in the home, product defect accidents (product liability) and holiday accidents.
What is the time limit to bring a Personal Injury Claim?
By Law an individual has a period of 2 years to bring a personal injury claim. The 2 year period is calculated from the date of incident or date of knowledge. Whilst there is a 2 year period by law a Letter of Claim must be issued withing a period of 1 month from the date of incident. and if a Claimant fails to do so a court is obliged to draw inferences and if justice requires it to penalise a claimant on costs.
Accordingly, it is important to obtain legal advice at the earliest opportunity so that the appropriate letter may issue in time.
How to make a Personal Injury Claim in Ireland
What is PIAB (Personal Injuries Assessment Board)?
The function of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board is to assess a personal injury action before litigation is commenced. All personal injury actions with the exception of Medical Negligence Claims must be submitted to the Injuries Board in the first instance.
How to submit an application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board
An application is lodged with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board by submitting the following:
- Completed Form A (Application Form)
- A medical report from a Doctor setting out full details of the injury
- The application fee payable to the Injuries Board of €45
- A copy of the letter of claim sent to the respondent
Upon receipt of the completed application the Personal Injuries Assessment Board will confirm registration of the application and issue an application number. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board will issue correspondence directly to you and your solicitor confirming safe receipt of your application and confirming that a letter has issued to the respondent giving them a period of 90 days within which to consent or decline the Personal Injuries Assessment Board assessment of your case.
The Injuries Board will notify your solicitor after the 90 day period to confirm whether the respondent has consented or declined.
What happens if the Respondent declines to have my case Assessed?
In the event that the respondent declines to have the claim assessed by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board an Authorisation will issue which will permit your Solicitor to initiate court proceedings on your behalf.
What happens if the Respondent consents to have my case Assessed?
In the event that the respondent consents to the assessment of the claim the Injuries Board will notify your Solicitor of the fact that the respondent consents. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board will set about obtaining the information they require to assess your claim. This will involve completion of a Schedule of Special Damages and a Certificate of Loss of Earnings.
In order to complete the Schedule of Special Damages you should retain safely all or any receipts arising as a result of your injury. This will include doctors fees, hospital treatment, medication, travel expenses and any other expenses which may arise in your particular case.
In the event that you have a Loss of Earnings the Certificate of Loss of Earnings will be completed by your employer.
The Personal Injuries Assessment Board will also arrange for an independent medical examination which will be arranged with another doctor in your general locality. The type of doctor who will assess you will depend on the nature of the injuries. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board bears the cost of the medical appointment.
Typically, the Personal Injuries Assessment Board will assess your claim within a period of 6-9 months from the date that they confirm that they have consent to proceed with the assessment. Delays may occur from time to time for example, if the nature of the injuries requires the Personal Injuries Assessment Board to obtain additional reports from doctors of various specialities.
Your Solicitor will keep you updated as to the progression of your claim within the Injuries Board process.
I have received an Assessment from the Personal Injuries Assessment Board – What should I do?
When an Assessment issues from the Personal Injuries Assessment Board it will be sent to you and to your Solicitor. Upon receipt of the assessment you should immediately arrange to attend with your Solicitor to discuss same.
Both the claimant and the respondent can accept or reject the assessment made by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. In order for the assessment to be binding, both parties have to accept the assessment. In the event that either party rejects the assessment an Authorisation will issue from the Personal Injuries Assessment Board which will permit you to issue court proceedings in respect of your case.
In the event that both parties agree to accept the assessment the Personal Injuries Assessment Board will issue a Order to Pay which is in effect the same as a court order directing payment.
How do the Personal Injuries Assessment Board value my personal injuries claim?
In valuing all claims submitted the Personal Injuries Assessment Board makes reference to the Book of Quantum. The Book of Quantum sets out guideline valuation ranges for various injuries. The Book of Quantum may be accessed on the Injuries Board website.
I have received a Letter of Claim/ PIAB Application naming me as a Respondent- What should I do?
If you receive a Letter of Claim you should seek legal advice immediately. However, If the Letter of Claim relates to car accident and you have a policy of insurance in place you should bring the letter to the immediate intention of your insurance company who will protect your interests.
Do I need a Solicitor to submit a claim to PIAB?
Whilst an individual can submit their own application to PIAB it is prudent to obtain legal advice given the importance of naming the correct Respondents. For example a Respondents correct legal entity must be used. The case may be against a Limited Company in Ireland or overseas. Also, it is vital to have legal advice regarding any compensation ultimately awarded to you.
What will my Solicitor require during our first meeting following an accident?
- Details in relation to the accident dates, time, etc
- Your personal details and PPS number
- Photographs (if available)
- Details of the other party/ proposed Respondent (if available)
- Details of Gardai who attended (if applicable)
- Receipts in relation to your expenses arising from the accident (if any). For example you may receive a Bill from your local A&E Department or Fire Brigade which can be included as part of your case.
- Details of the Hospital/ Doctor who treated you for your injury
- Details of any previous injuries or accidents
I have been told that driver of the other vehicle has no insurance. What can I do?
In the event that the responsible party in a car accident does not have insurance a claim can be submitted to The Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (M.I.B.I ) A claim may be brought against the MIBI by a person entitled to bring a personal injury claim arising out of the negligent use by an uninsured person of a vehicle. A claim may be brought in respect of an uninsured or untraced vehicle. There are strict conditions set by the MIBI Agreements which your Solicitor will advise you of. In particular there is a strict requirement that any such accident is reported to An Garda Siochana within a period of 2 days of the event or as soon as reasonably possible.
I have been injured by the criminal act of another- what are my options?
Apart from your right to purse the person who inflicted the injury you may be entitled to bring a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal who consider applications arising from personal injury or death caused by a crime of violence. An application must be submitted to the Tribunal within a period of 3 months from the date of the incident.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.
For further information please contact Caroline McLaughlin, Partner in the Personal Injury Practice Area of Callan Tansey Solicitors, 3 Wine Street, Sligo.