Often the initial action that a solicitor will need to consider when assessing any personal injury claims is the Statute of Limitations in Ireland. The Statute of Limitations for personal injury compensation claims in Ireland is the time limit within which an injured party can issue proceedings according to the Courts and Civil Liability Act 2000. In most cases, a potential plaintiff has two years from the date of knowledge of an injury in which to initiate proceedings; however there are several exceptions.
What is the Date of Knowledge?
Usually, the date of knowledge of an injury will be the date on which the injury was suffered in an accident. It is therefore important that an injured party talks to a solicitor at the earliest practical opportunity following an accident or when knowledge of an avoidable injury has occurred. The harsh reality is that, apart from several specific exceptions, the chance to make an injury compensation claim will be lost precisely two years after the date of knowledge. After this time, if your circumstances cannot be filed within one of the special categories discussed below, your solicitor may well be unable to help you.
Injuries to Underage Children
When a claim involves a minor (the legal term for somebody under eighteen years), it is important to note that the date of knowledge of an injury is in fact the minor victim’s eighteenth birthday i.e. the Statute of Limitations for personal injury claims in Ireland for children does not start until the child reaches his or her majority (eighteen years of age). Thereafter, under existing legislation, the injured party (who has now reached their majority) has two years within which to submit an application for assessment to the Injuries Board Ireland or to issue proceedings in court.
A minor can, however, pursue a claim for injury compensation before his or her eighteenth birthday in the event that a parent or guardian acts as his or her ‘next friend’. It is therefore still preferable that you get in touch with a solicitor at the first opportunity if your child has been injured in circumstances where another party was to blame. Another advantage of making a claim early is that your solicitor is more likely to be able to gather more reliable evidence in support of your child´s claim.
Cases Involving Asbestos and Acquired Injuries
Another exception to the normal principle that the date of injury and the date of knowledge are the same is asbestos-related injury cases and other industrial diseases that have been acquired over a period of time. Given the nature of asbestos-related injuries, those affected may have no knowledge that they have contracted an asbestos-related injury for many years after exposure. In these circumstances, the two year time limit starts from when the injured party becomes aware that they had contracted an asbestos-related injury such as mesothelioma.
Although other industrial diseases may not necessarily be as serious as mesothelioma – such as a repetitive strain injury or carpal tunnel syndrome – the Statute of Limitations for personal injury compensation claims in Ireland starts from the day on which the plaintiff is diagnosed with an injury which is attributable to the negligence of a party who owed them a duty of care.
Additional Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
Additional exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for personal injury claims in Ireland exist, examples of which would include the misdiagnosis of an illness – where the injury claims Statute of Limitations in Ireland would not begin until the correct diagnosis had been made – or where a medical instrument or swab has been left inside a patient during surgery which has resulted in an injury, a loss or the deterioration of an existing condition.
Victims of an accident who are considered to be mentally impaired or who sustain catastrophic injuries which prevent them from making a personal injury claim, have two years from the date on which they are considered to be “capable” – if ever – in which to claim personal injury compensation in Ireland, and special exceptions have been made after a legal application to the courts to proceed with a compensation claim after the injury claims Statute of Limitations in Ireland would usually have expired.
Calculating the Statute of Limitations: How is this done?
Provided that you get in touch with a solicitor as soon as possible following an accident, the Statute of Limitations for personal injury claims in Ireland should not jeopardise your entitlement to injury compensation. Your solicitor will be familiar with the relevant time limits and will take care to make sure that, for example, the appropriate forms are submitted to the Injuries Board Ireland within the allocated time (if that is required for your type of injury).
To explain the procedure properly however, it should be noted that the following dates are key in calculating the Statute of Limitations.
a) The date of the accident or Date of Knowledge
b) Date of expiration of the two-year period from the date of the accident occurring
c) Date ‘Form A” is filed with the Injuries Board Ireland
d) Date of the “Section 50″ acknowledgement letter confirming the receipt of your application
e) The Injuries Board Ireland “Authorisation” to pursue a claim through the courts
f) Six months date from the “Authorisation” to pursue your claims through the courts
g) Balance of two-year period for the issue of court proceedings to begin
If we assume, for example, that “John” had been involved in an accident on the 1st of June 2010. John got in touch with his solicitor who made an application to the Injuries Board Ireland that was deemed received and complete on the 1st September 2010 (three months after the date that the accident had occurred and when the Section 50 acknowledgement letter was dispatched).
The compensation claim was with the Injuries Board Ireland until the 1st of June 2011 when it was released by way of Authorisation due to the non-agreement of the Injuries Board´s assessment. The limitation period begins to run again six months later on the 1st of December 2011. An additional period of one year and nine months remains (three months of the two-year limitation period already having expired before the Injuries Board Ireland application was submitted), and so the limitation period for John’s claim will run out on the 31st of August 2013.
If all of this sounds slightly complicated, you should remember that you will not need worry about the Statute of Limitations for personal injury claims in Ireland if you contact a solicitor as soon as practical after an accident.
Summary: Statute of Limitations
The Statute of Limitations restricts how much time you are allowed after a personal injury to make a claim for compensation
In the majority of cases, the Statute of Limitations allows two years from the date an injury was sustained or diagnosed
Under the Statute of Limitations, children are permitted two years from their eighteenth birthday in which to file a compensation claim
Other exceptions to the injury compensation claims Statute of Limitations in Ireland exist for acquired injuries, incapacity and some claims for medical negligence
If you contact a solicitor in good time after you have suffered an injury, you should not be affected by the Statute of Limitations
It is important to recognise that each case is unique. If you have been involved in an accident resulting from the negligence of another and feel that you have a potential personal injury compensation claim, you are strongly advised to discuss all of the points raised in the preceding article with a solicitor at the earliest opportunity. Do not rely on this article to calculate the appropriate Statute of Limitations for injury claim.