Personal injury claims for compensation arise when you have been involved in an accident where at least some element of liability can be apportioned to somebody else. Irrespective of whether your injury happened at work, on the roads, or while you were walking through a shopping mall, any instance where you have sustained an injury, and were not entirely at fault, entitles you to make a claim for the personal injuries you have suffered.
Most personal injury claims are clear cut, due to the negligence of an employer, a reckless road user, a public servant, or other party. Claims for personal injuries have to prove that you did suffer an injury of some kind, and that those injuries are directly attributable to a lack of care by somebody else. For example, an injury sustained at work where you ignored clearly defined safety precautions would not constitute grounds for a personal injury claim, but an injury sustained because the safety equipment was poorly maintained would.
If you are in any doubt about personal injury claims, we hope the information provided below will be of benefit to you.
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How Does Contributory Negligence Affect Personal Injury Claims?
The concept of contributory negligence plays a big factor in personal injury claims. This is where you may have been involved in an accident, for example at a restaurant, where you have enjoyed a little too much to drink and fallen over on a poorly lit pathway, or been involved in a road traffic accident where your injuries have been exacerbated because you failed to wear a seatbelt. Although the injuries you have sustained are partly your own fault, if there was a factor which caused the accident to happen which was not of your own making, you are entitled to make a personal injury claim.
The principle of contributory negligence may also be used to determine who pays for personal injury claims when two or more parties are negligent. An example of this would be if you are involved in a road traffic accident where a car has pulled out in front of you, forcing you to brake sharply, and the vehicle travelling behind you is exceeding the speed limit and runs into the back of you. In this instance, both the driver who pulled out and the driver who hit you from the rear would be liable for your injuries and contribute proportionately to damages awarded in a personal injury claim.
Who Decides Liability for Personal Injury Claims?
Liability for personal injury claims is often straightforward. In a serious road traffic accident, the Gardai will normally attend the scene and make their own report. In a work accident, usually your work colleagues will be able to support your claim in cases due to faulty equipment or a lack of training to explain how certain machinery operates. In many instances there will be witnesses to an event. As many people now have mobile telephones with a camera or video facility, acquiring evidence of an accident is not exceptionally difficult.
Problems only arise with determining liability for personal injury claims when the liable party disputes responsibility. In these instances, liability for personal injury claims may be decided by a court or settled by negotiation. In the case of a road traffic accident, where a guilty party has driven away before their details can be taken, modern technology is used by the Gardai to trace the liable driver, and there are also procedures to cover occasions when they cannot be found, or are not covered by insurance.
How do I Make Personal Injury Claims?
How you make personal injuries claims will depend on what you aim to get from a compensation award. Nearly all personal injuries claims are processed at some stage by the Injuries Board (with the exception of medical negligence cases), and although they have a straightforward procedure when liability is not disputed, the board’s handling of personal injury claims makes little allowance for the age of a victim, whether they are the household wage earner or need ongoing medical support. It is far more beneficial to allow a specialist solicitor, who is familiar with the nuances of the Injuries Board, to prepare your personal injury claim on your behalf. Indeed, 90% of victims who make a claim through the Injuries Board choose to use legal representation.
It is also worth mentioning at this point the potential for intervention by insurance companies. Insurances companies, acting on behalf of the negligent party, may sometimes approach victims of accidental personal injuries with the offer of a financial sum for early settlement. Although the appeal of short term cash in lieu of a personal injury claim may be enticing, the companies rarely offer a fair and adequate amount of compensation and have been known to make these offers whilst the victim is still in their sick bed. If you have been approached in such a manner, it is in your best interests to seek professional legal advice in regard to the amount that is “on the table” before accepting or declining it.
Are Personal Injuries Claims Time-Sensitive?
In a word – yes. Personal Injury Claims have to be made within two years of the “date of knowledge” of the injury. In the event of a slip outside of a restaurant or a road traffic accident, the date of knowledge will be the day on which the event happened and you sustained the injury. However, work related injuries such as repetitive strain injury may develop over a number of years and only when it has been diagnosed can the “date of knowledge” be quantified.
Children have two years from the date they reach their eighteenth birthday in which to make personal injury claims. That is not to say that a ten-year-old knocked from his bicycle by a reckless driver has to wait eight years before being able to claim compensation – personal injury claims can be made on behalf of children by parents or guardians acting as their “next friend”. However, some different procedures are attached to making personal injury claims on behalf of minors, and should your child be involved in an accident which may lead to a personal injury claim, it would be beneficial to speak with a member of the legal profession first.
How much do Personal Injury Claims Pay?
The value to you of a personal injury claim is unique and varies in respect of the severity of the injuries you have suffered and your personal circumstances. There are guidelines published in the “Book of Quantum”, which relate solely to the type of injury that you sustained. However, they fail to account for any personal considerations such loss of earnings, medical expenses, your future ability to work, or any long term health care you may require.
Awards of compensation on which both parties agree are administered by the Injuries Board. If either party fail to accept the “Quantum”, an authorisation is made by the Injuries Board Ireland to refer the case to the courts in order to determine a fair and adequate amount of compensation. Often, agreement is reached for personal injury claims settlement before the case comes before court, but your solicitor will have already prepared a case to present should it be necessary.
As mentioned above, we hope that these “frequently asked questions” answer some of the issues faced by accident victims considering personal injury claims. If there is anything further that you would like to know, please do not hesitate to get in touch by calling our free accident advice line on or fill in the call back form on the side of the page.