The Function of the Personal Injuries Board in Ireland
The Personal Injuries Board in Ireland is an independent Government entity – founded by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) Act of 2003 – whose main function is to reduce the time it takes to resolve personal injury claims in Ireland and lessen the State’s cost of processing personal injury compensation claims that are made against it.
The Injuries Board has been highly successful in their two main goals – the average period of time it takes to conclude a personal injury claim in Ireland has been decreased from three years to only nine months, and taxpayers have saved an estimate of over half a billion Euros as of the end on 2011.
The Injuries Board’s principal role is to assess how much compensation a plaintiff – who has been injured in an accident for which they were not at fault – should receive in their personal injury compensation claim from the negligent party’s insurance company. The process is document only and the Injuries Board issues their assessment based on the information they are given.
How to Make a Claim to the Injuries Board in Ireland
This article will explain the procedure for making an application for assessment of your personal injury claim to the Injuries Board Ireland by outlining the potential difficulties you may face if you are unaccustomed to the personal injuries claim process in Ireland; how, by engaging the assistance of an expert solicitor, you can overcome the potential difficulties and providing information about possible legal fees should you engage the assistance of a solicitor.
It is hoped that this guide will enable you to make a knowledgeable decision about whether it would be in your best interest to engage the services of a solicitor when you make a claim for compensation to the Injuries Board. However, to gain advice on your specific situation which relates to your personal injury claim, it is advised that you speak directly with a solicitor who can offer you free and impartial information about injury compensation.
Compensation Claims and the Personal Injuries Board Ireland
Generally, the process for making a compensation claim to the Personal Injuries Board in Ireland is very straightforward. The potential plaintiff fills out the application Form A either online or by hard copy – which can be acquired through the post from the Injuries Board. When completed, it is submitted to the Personal Injuries Board along with a copy of Form B – a medical assessment of your injury completed by a medical practitioner – and any receipts for costs relating to your injury that you may wish to be reimbursed for.
When the Injuries Board Ireland has obtained your application forms (and a 45 Euro fee), the negligent party (the “Respondent”) will be notified and asked for consent for the Injuries Board to proceed with their assessment of your claim. The Respondent has 90 days to agree to the assessment and, if they neglect to reply after the allocated time, their consent will be considered to have been given by default. Should the Respondent refuse consent for your assessment, an “Authorisation” will be issued to you by the Injuries Board to pursue your personal injury claim in court, ending the Injuries Board’s involvement in your compensation claim.
You may be required to undergo a medical examination within four weeks – if the Respondent consents to an assessment – with the Injuries Board being responsible for the cost. This examination may be necessary to determine the progress – or lack of progress – of your injury; especially since four months may now have passed since your application’s submission and the results may influence the amount of compensation the Injuries Board assess your claim for considerably.
Averagely, the Injuries Board would take seven to nine months to complete the assessment of your personal injury compensation claim, after which time a “Notice of Assessment” will be sent to both you and the Respondent. Provided that both parties accept the Assessment within 28 days, an Order to Pay will follow, and you should receive your Injuries Board-assessed compensation not long after. Should either party reject the Injuries Board Assessment within 28 days, an “Authorisation” will be issued to you in order to pursue your injury claim in court.
How the Personal Injuries Board in Ireland Assess Compensation Claims
The “Book of Quantum” is a publication used by the Personal Injury Board Ireland to assess claims for compensation. This publication lists a comprehensive selection of injuries and allocates them a financial value which is then adjusted to account for your age, general standard of health prior to your accident and – in some cases – your sex.
The value of the figure obtained from the Book of Quantum is known as “General Damages” and is – for most cases in Ireland – the main factor in a Personal Injury Board assessment. As you see below, there are numerous other factors which can – in some cases – amount to more than the assessment of general damages for the loss, injury or exacerbation of an affliction you suffered do to the fault of another person.
Elements Included in an Injuries Board Assessment
Along with general damages for the physical suffering sustained at the time of your injury and during your recovery, an Injuries Board assessment should include compensation for any emotional trauma you may have experienced, which has been verified and recorded by a medical practitioner in your medical examination, and the reimbursement of any costs have acquired – or income you have lost – as a result of the negligence of the person, or entity, responsible for the accident in which you were injured.
You may also qualify to claim compensation for your “loss of amenity” if the injury you sustained prevents you from performing everyday tasks, enjoying an active social life or partaking in leisure activities or hobbies. Unfortunately, as there is very little opportunity to communicate the personal costs that accompany an injury – on either the online application or the hard copy of Form A – the Injuries Board Ireland may possibly remain unaware of the full consequences of your injury and, as a result, will be unable to adequately assess the accurate value of compensation for a personal injury that you are entitled to receive.
It may become clear to a potential plaintiff, unaccustomed to the Injuries Board process, that not only should you be ideally conscious of every factor in a personal injury compensation claim in Ireland, but you should also be informed as to how to apply for it to ensure a full and fair assessment of your claim.
Court Action and the Personal Injuries Board in Ireland
Even if you are issued with an Authorisation by the Injuries Board because the person or entity responsible for accident fails to admit their liability for your injuries – or if one or other party does not agree with the results of the Injuries Board Assessment – you may not have to resolve your claim in court. The Authorisation simply gives you the power to pursue action through the courts if your claim cannot be concluded through the Injuries Board process or through negotiation with the negligent party’s insurance company while the Injuries Board process is continuing.
As a result of this, many solicitors will recommend that their clients apply for assessment to the Injuries Board Ireland even if a negotiated settlement seems likely. By doing this, should negotiations with the negligent party’s insurers fall through, you will not have to wait for the Injuries Board of Ireland to start from the beginning of the process before being able to commence court action. However, there are certain circumstances in which an appearance in court will be inevitable.
Compensation Claims for Children through the Injuries Board
Claims through the Personal Injuries Board in Ireland for children can be made only by a “next friend”, i.e. the child’s parent of guardian. Your local district court can give you the authorisation to represent a child without having to appear before a judge; however, as all injury compensation settles for children must be approved by a court before payment of the compensation settlement can be made, a court appearance will eventually be required.
The process of making compensation claims for children in Ireland by the Injuries Board is the same as for adults except that only paper copy applications of Form A are accepted by the Injuries Board – online applications are not permitted – making it necessary to send Form A and the supporting documents through the post. The only other exception that may apply to compensation claims through the Personal Injury Board Ireland is if your child’s injury came as a result of medical negligence.
Medical Negligence Claims and the Injuries Board Ireland
The Personal Injuries Board in Ireland will deny any applications for assessment for any injury related to medical negligence – be the plaintiff an child or an adult – as, in order for a medical negligence compensation claim in Ireland to be successful, it must be proved that the injury you suffered was preventable “at the time and circumstances” and that a competent medical practitioner would not have made the same mistakes which caused a loss, injury or the exacerbation of a prior condition.
It is highly recommended that you engage the services of a solicitor should you wish to pursue a compensation claim for medical negligence in Ireland – or indeed any other type of claim which the Injuries Board cannot assess – for example, injuries caused by the drug Thalidomide (where the company behind it still denies liability) or for injuries which can be attributed to the recalled DePuy hip replacement systems, where no compensation benchmark has yet been determined.
What is the Alternative to Using Ireland’s Injury Board?
It may come as no surprise to learn that less than a third of all applications for assessment to the Personal Injuries Board in Ireland are resolved using the Injuries Board process when you consider the many exemptions from the Injuries Board process, the difficulties that may arise with the potential of being unable to adequately communicate your injuries in a document-only process and the possibility for assessments to be denied due to a lack of consent or declined because one party felt the assessment was too high or too low.
As was mentioned previously, solicitors frequently advise their clients to make an application for assessment to Ireland’s Personal Injury Board even when there is a high probability of a claim being concluded through negotiation, and it is worth noting that you do not have to wait for an Authorisation to be obtained from the Injuries Board in Ireland before the procedure for negotiation can begin. It is often the case, in fact, that the negligent party’s insurance company will approach you directly – soon after the accident for which their policyholder was at fault occurred and when you are likely to be at your most vulnerable – with the purpose of freeing themselves from future financial responsibility by offering you a gratuitous compensation settlement.
Legal Fees and the Irish Injuries Board
It is imperative, therefore, that as soon are you have received medical attention for the injuries you sustained after an accident caused by someone else you seek legal advice from a solicitor about making compensation claims to the Personal Injuries Board in Ireland. There is no certain guarantee, of course, that the assistance of a solicitor will automatically ensure you receive a higher reward, but there are numerous situations where the advice of a solicitor may increase the amount of compensation awarded above any legal fee expenses you may acquire.
Section 44 of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act states, however, that “the Respondent shall pay the fees and expenses, in whole or in part, that in the opinion of the Board have been reasonably and necessarily incurred by a claimant” and as a consequence, any advice given to you by an insurance company under the Central Bank Consumer Protection Code 2012 Article 7.7 which states “any fees paid to a solicitor generally come out of whatever damages may be secured”, may be inaccurate given that most legal fees acquired in engaging expert legal representation in Ireland should be able to be reimbursed as part of your compensation for personal injuries settlement.
Why it may be Worth Your While to Seek Advice from a Legal Professional
There are many good reasons – along with being eligible for what is basically “free” legal representation – to seek professional legal advice from a solicitor following an accident that was you your fault in which you sustained an injury. Possibly the most convincing reason is that the time after your accident, when you are at your most vulnerable, physically and emotionally, a solicitor can ensure that any omissions or errors you may inadvertently supply in Form A of your application to the Personal Injury Board Ireland are rectified, giving you a better opportunity for a full and fair compensation settlement.
In addition, there is always the possibility that consent to assess your application may be denied by the negligent party, or that the Personal Injury Board Ireland’s assessment will be declined, and you should be filling out reports and gathering any evidence that you may need to support your claim for personal injuries should the claim fail to be resolved through the Injuries Board process. You should be aware that if your try to gather evidence of a trip in the street or a fall at work when an Authorisation has been issued nine months after your accident happened, there may be inadequate evidence of negligence remaining for you to prove your case.
If this seems daunting, do not forget that a solicitor will be able to provide assistance with all of these procedures and he or she could complete Form A on your behalf in order to ensure that the consequences of your injury and loss of amenity are completely in order and included in the Injuries Board Ireland’s assessment. Your solicitor is also in a position to negotiate with the negligent party’s insurance company to resolve your injury claim in a quicker period of time and to represent you in court – with full knowledge of your case – should the negotiations fail to conclude with an adequate settlement of your claim.
Your solicitor will have had experience dealing with personal injury claims to the satisfaction of their clients, submitting applications for assessment to the Injuries Board Ireland and obtaining the highest potential settlement. For the majority of people injured in accidents who believe that thy have a potential compensation claim, this is a far better situation than failing to acquire a sufficient amount of compensation to cover their medical expenses or supporting their family as an amateur “do-it-yourself” lawyer.
Personal Injuries Board of Ireland: A Summary
Featured below are some final points for you to consider about whether it would be worth your while to engage the services of a solicitor when making a claim to the Personal Injuries Board in Ireland.
- The Injuries Board Ireland’s process for assessing compensation applications consists of a document-only procedure and should you disagree with the result of their assessment, your only option would be to reject it and re-start the claims process.
- The risk of “third party capture” – when the negligent party’s insurers approach you will an unsolicited offer when you are often at your most vulnerable – is not alleviated by the existence of the Injuries Board Ireland.
- The Personal Injury Board would have no choice but to issue you with an Authorisation for you to pursue your claim through the courts if your application for assessment is contested on the grounds of liability or the amount of compensation assessed for your claim.
- To ensure fair and acceptable resolutions, the services of a qualified solicitor should be obtained for compensation claims for children, the mentally impaired, those who have sustained injuries due to medical negligence and potential plaintiffs with injuries for which there are no determined benchmarks for compensation.
- The Personal Injury Board Ireland will reject your application for assessment of compensation if more than one party is responsible for the injuries you suffered in the accident – or if you yourself are partly to blame because of your own lack of care.
Each personal injury compensation claim is unique – even when injuries suffered are the same – and each individual claim should be assessed on its personal attributes rather than against a book which lists a financial value for an injury with no concern to the affects the injury has on the individual.