The purpose of personal injury compensation in Ireland is to recompense victims of accidents for their pain and loss. If you have been hurt in a road traffic accident, sustained an injury at work, been the victim of clinical malpractice, or even just fallen over in a public place, you may be entitled to make a claim for injury compensation, provided you were not completely to blame for the accident.
When it comes to claiming injury compensation advice offered by well-meaning friends and colleagues may be inaccurate, contradictory or just plain confusing We have compiled a short selection of frequently asked questions below, to help you determine whether you are entitled to claim for injury compensation after an accident.
You can also call our free phone line on to talk to one of our experienced injury compensation solicitors about your accident. This free advice service is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Can I Claim for Injury Compensation?
You can claim for injury compensation if you have sustained a physical or psychological injury in an accident, where another party or parties were fully or partially to blame. Even if you had some part in causing the incident, if it was not entirely your fault you are entitled to claim for injury compensation.
There are some types of accident where the liable party for the accident may be unclear or, in the case of a road traffic accident, the guilty party left the scene before you were able to find out who they are. There are provisions made for such incidents and, if you are in any doubt in determining who is responsible and accountable for your injuries, we will be able to help with this.
How do I Claim for Injury Compensation?
The Injuries Board of Ireland was set up to deal with most injury compensation claims. But most people realise that to ensure a satisfactory settlement it is essential to use the services of a specialised personal injury claims solicitor. Not only do we have extensive experience in handling injury compensation claims but, in the majority of cases, any costs associated with our services are borne by the liable party.
There may be occasions when more than one party is responsible for injuries sustained in your accident. When this is the case, the payment of an award for injury compensation will be divided between them, based on the proportion of negligence which each contributed.
Who Determines the Amount of Injury Compensation?
Sometimes an insurance company will contact you soon after an accident to make an offer for a quick settlement. However tempting it may be to accept this type of instant offer, it is usually not adequate compensation, and at the very least you should discuss it with a personal injury solicitor before making any decisions.
Another settlement offer will be recommended by the Injuries Board, based on your claim application. The Injuries Board has a “Book of Quantum” which lists a scale of injury compensation awards relative to the severity of the injuries you may have sustained. Although this is an adequate basis on which to calculate the amount of injury compensation you may be entitled to for your injury, it makes no consideration for the age of the victim, and often fails to account for “out-of-pocket” expenses, such as a loss of earnings due to your injury, or if you have to undergo prolonged and costly medical treatment. Again, it is highly advisable to have a solicitor prepare your Injuries Board application, and then to discuss the offer with them when it is made.
The Injuries Board of Ireland only has administrative powers in determining the amount of injury compensation – it has no legislative powers to enforce a settlement. Therefore, if either the plaintiff (you) or the defendant (liable party) disputes their injury compensation award, the claim process then enters the legal system. If your claim goes to court then your case is likely to be heard in either the Circuit Court or the High Court. The District Court hasjurisdiction to make awards of up to €6,000. The Circuit Court is able to determine injury compensation awards up to €38,000. The High Court awards injury compensation above this figure.
How long do I Have to Claim Injury Compensation?
The Courts and Civil Liability Act 2000 provides that you have a period of two years from the “date of knowledge” in which to make a claim for injury compensation. This “date of knowledge” is known as the Statute of Limitations, and whereas the date of knowledge for a road traffic accident will be obvious, where an injury has been the result of medical malpractice, the date of knowledge may be many years after the actual incident has taken place. Again, if you are in any doubt, please do not hesitate to call our free help line.
Different rules apply to children who have suffered an injury. Children have two years from the age of majority (currently eighteen years of age) rather than the date of knowledge in which to make a claim for injury compensation. Children under the age of eighteen are still entitled to claim if they have been injured in an accident; however, they are represented in their claim by a parent or guardian who acts as their “next friend”.
What Else Should I Know About Injury Compensation?
When you have been involved in any accident, you first consideration must be your health. If you did not receive medical attention at the site of your accident, you should visia doctor’s surgery or the outpatients department at your local hospital as a matter of priority. Not only is this to ensure that any injury is treated appropriately, but your attendance at a medical centre will be recorded on your medical records and support your claim for injury compensation.
Furthermore, you should ensure wherever possible that the accident in which you have been involved is properly recorded. If your accident happens at work, your employer should keep an Accident Report Book on the premises. Likewise, a public building or facility will have a record of any accidents that occur on site and, in the event of a serious road traffic accident, the Gardai maintain a Road Traffic Accident Report Book. If the Gardai have not considered your accident of sufficient seriousness for them to attend, you should still visit your local Garda station once your health has received attention and ask them to make a record of the details.
Insurance Companies and Injury Compensation
Increasingly, insurance companies representing liable parties will make an approach to an injured party with an offer of an early settlement for injury compensation. As tempting as their offer may seem, it can be very much worth your while to have any such approach verified by an independent person. Frequently, the company’s interests lie with their client and their own profits. It may be foolhardy to accept an offer and then discover that the amount is inadequate to support your family and cover your medical expenses.
This is why we recommend that you should always seek professional advice. The benefit of using a solicitor in any claim for injury compensation is that you are assured of receiving a fair and adequate settlement figure which reflects the injury, damage and personal loss that you have sustained in your accident.
If you would like to find out more about the services available to victims of accidents in the pursuit of injury compensation, call us now on Free Phone or fill in our contact form and one of our solicitors will call you back.