The Injuries Board of Ireland was established in 2004 to speed up the time it takes to finalise claims for compensation, and to reduce the costs involved in administering them. In some respects, the Injuries Board has been a success, for example by bringing down the length of time some personal injury claims take to process from 36 months to just 7 months.
Who Should Apply to the Injuries Board?
The Injuries Board is the first port of call for anybody wishing to make a personal injuries claim when they have been injured in a road traffic accident, workplace incident, or wish to make a claim against a commercial or public institute’s public liability insurance. The Injuries Board does not deal with claims for medical negligence, or get involved with compensation claims for material damage if no physical or psychological injury is sustained.
In order to apply to the Injuries Board, the claimant must complete the relevant paperwork stating what they are claiming for, against whom and why. This must be supported by medical documentation and a report of the accident. The claim is then submitted to the respondent (defendant) for them to accept.
What Does the Injuries Board Do?
The Injuries Board assesses claims made by the plaintiff (injured party) against the respondent (defendant) with the help of the supporting documentation, such as medical records and information from the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social and Family Affairs. The documentation is needed to validate the amounts claimed and any DFSA benefits received. The board then determines an amount to be awarded to the plaintiff based on their appraisal of the pain and suffering experienced, plus “special damages” which include an amount to represent loss of earnings, medical costs and other out-of-pocket expenses. This is useful for very straightforward and simples cases, but over 90% of claiment use the services of a personal injury claims solicitor when submitting their claim to the Injuries Board.
Should either party not accept the Injuries Board assessment, the plaintiff is issued with an “Authorisation”, which effectively allows them to pursue the matter through the legal system and potentially in court. The Injuries Board does not enter into negotiations between the two parties, or pay any compensation awards; it simply fulfils an administrative process to reduce the number of personal injury claims going to the courts.
The Role of Solicitors in Personal Injury Compensation Claims
Solicitors have an important role in helping people deal with the Injuries Board. The Injuries Board is a good intermediary between plaintiff and respondent, but the awards of compensation they recommend are based on the “Book of Quantum” – guidelines introduced in 2004 to quantify the severity of an injury and the corresponding financial recompense that should be due. As well as being 6 years out of date, the figures quoted in the “Book of Quantum” make no allowance for the age of the victim or any impact the accident will make on their future quality of life. Although the Injuries Board has the authority to award “special” damages to redress the imbalance, these are intended solely to represent out-of-pocket expenses and, again, may not fully portray today’s higher cost of living.
Solicitors who are familiar with personal injury claims for compensation will have a more up-to-date view of what is considered a fair and adequate amount to compensate for the trauma you may have suffered, and how much you may in fact need for your future financial security. Solicitors also provide a valuable point of reference for victims of accidents who are approached by insurance companies wishing to make an early offer of compensation settlement. These insurance companies will also be quoting from the “Book of Quantum” to demonstrate their “integrity” and the supposed fairness of their proposal. If you choose to introduce a solicitor into the proceedings, you will generally find that the offer substantially increases.
The Injuries Board and Settlement Statistics
In its first five years the Injuries Board of Ireland achieved a great deal in terms of smoothing the compensation procedure for some accident victims. However, within that period, just 22% of all claims submitted to the Injuries Board Ireland were settled for the amount of compensation suggested. A much larger number – estimated at 34% – were settled even before the Injuries Board Ireland had made its assessment, by negotiation between the plaintiff’s solicitor and the defendant’s insurance company. With these two statistics alone, you can see the value in using the services of a solicitor.
The Injuries Board Ireland has no remit to ensure that you receive adequate personal injury compensation. If you wish to receive a fair compensation settlement it is important to seek professional legal representation from the start.
We have set up a free accident advice line on where you can call to discuss your potential case with one of our experienced solicitors without feeling any pressure. You have nothing to lose by availing yourself of this service.
Before Contacting the Injuries Board
If you are considering submitting a claim to the Injuries Board yourself it is essential to ask yourself a few questions:-
- Have you got your medical history and a copy of Gardai report (if applicable)?
- Are you comfortable completing the legal paperwork yourself?
- Has the negligent party admitted responsibility?
- Are you only expecting a small award of compensation for minor injuries?
- Will you be satisfied to accept whatever award of compensation is offered?
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’, or you feel that there is any probability of your claim requiring litigation, then speak with us first. Our advice is free and there is no obligation for you to use our services thereafter.