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What is the O’Byrne Letter Precedent?

I want to claim compensation as I was badly injured in a multiple vehicle pile-up accident but was advised to find out what is the O’Byrne letter precedent.

A common and very valid question that prospective plaintiff’s in multiple party accidents frequently ask is “what is the O’Byrne letter precedent”? To understand it, however, the “letter of claim” must be explained. In what would be considered a straightforward car crash, involving only two parties, the potential plaintiff would have two months in which to advise the negligent party that a compensation claim is being made against them. This letter of claim – sent by the potential plaintiff’s solicitor – pre-warns them that they will receive a “Formal Notice” from the Injuries Board Ireland, which serves to inform them that the Injuries Board has received as application for personal injury assessment.

So, “what is the O’Byrne letter precedent”? The O’Byrne letter is the document that replaces the standard letter of claim when multiple negligent parties are involved in an accident victim’s compensation claim. However, it not only informs the respondents of the imminent compensation claim being made against them, but it also requests that they agree on what degree of liability each respondent should accept.

In an individual O’Byrne letter, the recipient will be informed that they are regarded as one of the parties responsible for the accident in question but that the potential plaintiff cannot say who is to blame. It will state that the respondents should agree amongst themselves the percentage of blame that should each take.

The O’Byrne letter will request that the recipient admit liability within a specially assigned period of time and to make an offer of compensation to the plaintiff. Following that would be a warning, that in the absence of an admission of liability, and a proposal to compensate, an application will be made to the Injuries Board Ireland. The recipient will also be warned that the O’Byrne letter itself can be used as evidence in order to fix the unsuccessful respondents with costs in favour of the respondents who were found not to be liable. In the absence of a proposal of compensation, the plaintiff will attempt to recover the appropriate costs in further court proceedings.

Once a potential plaintiff understands “What is the O’Byrne Letter Precedent”, they should know that in such multiple-vehicle cases where it is unclear who should hold the largest percentage of responsibility, the plaintiff should never attempt to prove negligence or even debate the issue. It should be made clear that this issue is only for the respondents of the O’Byrne letter to decide.

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