If the Defendant refuses to have the claim assessed by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, then a document called an authorisation will issue which will allow the Plaintiff to proceed to Court.
If however, the Personal Injuries Assessment Board does intend to assess the claim, they will do so based on an application form lodged with them together with medical evidence lodged on behalf of the Claimant/Plaintiff. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board will thereafter, seek to have the Claimant/Plaintiff independently assessed by a medical practitioner and will use the reports generated by each of the medical advisors to assess the value of the claim.
The Personal Injuries Assessment Board can also take into account items of expenditure incurred and loss of earnings suffered by the Claimant/Plaintiff.
At no stage does the Claimant/Plaintiff appear before the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, rather they are seen by an independent medical advisor usually in their locality, and thereafter, the claim is assessed based on the application form lodged.
Why Is It Beneficial To Use A Solicitor When Making An Application To The Injuries Board?
A Solicitor is invaluable in making an application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, as there are a large number of pitfalls which can and do become fatal to a Claimant’s application.
For example the correct Defendant must be named. It may be very simple that the correct Defendant is another individual that you know well and are aware of their name and address etc. However, in a road traffic accident you may have to name both the driver and the owner of a vehicle which will require searches to confirm details of both. The owner of the vehicle could be a company which may require further investigation.
Your Solicitor, at an early stage will take the proactive step of writing to the Defendants seeking confirmation that they will preserve any evidence that may be required. For example, CCTV evidence can be absolutely crucial to a case, however, if the Defendant has not been put on notice that, that CCTV evidence is required it could be easily destroyed. If your Solicitor does not get confirmation that the Defendant agrees to preserve the evidence then they can bring an application to the Court to force the Defendant to preserve the evidence that you require for your case.
There are numerous other pitfalls that your Solicitor will guide you through to ensure that you have the best possible chance of success.
What Are The Steps Involved In Bringing A Claim?
The first step which we usually take in any road traffic accident, workplace accident or slip, trip fall is that we instruct an Engineer to attend at the scene of the accident to take photographs, measurements and sketches. It could happen that after the Defendants receive notification of the claim the scene of the accident could be repaired or amended, and by having the engineering and photographic evidence of the scene of the accident puts you in a very strong position when you are proving your case.
Second of all we write to the Defendant seeking an undertaking that they will preserve evidence until such time as it as can be inspected by our Engineer, for example that CCTV is retained and we advise the Defendants that if they fail to confirm their agreement to retain the evidence that we will bring an application to the Court seeking an order that they are directed to retain that evidence.
Next we decide is the most appropriate medical evidence in your case. Whether your GP is best placed to give evidence of the injury suffered by you or whether you were treated by a consultant who may be in a position to furnish a report in relation to the injuries suffered by you and your prognosis.
Next we write to the Defendant advising them of the injuries suffered by you and asking them to admit liability. This letter is sent out as early as possible as it if a requirement under Section 8 of The Civil Liability and Courts Act, which states that as soon as practicable after the accident the Claimant must serve a notice in writing outlining the nature of the wrong committed and the injury suffered.
Once all of the preliminary letters have been sent out and the evidence gathered then an application form is completed namely a Form A. This is then sent to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board together with your medical report and copies of the letters that you have sent to the Defendants together with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board’s fee of €90.
In the Form A, you are obliged to give full details of the accident and it is important that this is correctly completed and your Solicitor can help you with this. You are also obliged to give details of your injuries and this should include the physical injuries as described by your doctor, but also any psychological injuries, sleep disturbance, memory loss, anxiety or depression and also any negative impact that the accident has had on your friendships and relationships and job performance.
Once the claim is lodged with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, the statute of limitations stops running.
What Is The Statute Of Limitations – What Is The Time Limit To Lodge My Claim With The Personal Injuries Assessment Board?
The statute of limitations imposes a very strict 2year time limit for an injured person to initiate their proceedings. If your proceedings are not brought within the 2year time limit then your entitlement to bring a claim is extinguished.
The time limit is 2years, however, given the amount of investigation that is required to bring a personal injury action this can in fact be a relatively short period of time and therefore, all Claimants should act without delay.
There are a number of limited exceptions to the 2year time limit and they are as follows:
- A child has 2years from their 18th birthday to bring their claim.
- Where a person is of unsound mind, proven by a doctor then the statute of limitations will not run against that person.
- Date of knowledge, this exception operates to assist those Claimants who were not aware of the injury suffered by them until a later date. For example, if a Claimant underwent an operation and the surgeon negligently cause irreparable harm to the Plaintiff, however, that harm did not manifest itself until 3years after the operation then that Claimant would not be statute barred, i.e. because 2years has passed, in fact the 2year time limit will only start running from the date that they become aware of the injury caused to them.
The date of knowledge exception to the statute of limitations is an extremely tricky one and once you do become aware of the injury suffered by you, you should seek legal advice straight away.
What Happens After I Lodge Claim With The Injuries Board?
One the Injuries Board receives the application and it is lodged within the relevant time frame, the Injuries Board will then notify the Respondent of the claim and ask them to either consent or object to the Injuries Board assessing the claim. If the Respondent to the Injuries Board assessing the claim, the Injuries Board will then proceed to the examine the medical evidence before them and they will arrange an independent medical appointment for you the Claimant. The Injuries Board will then look at both medical reports, i.e. your own doctor’s report and also the report of the independent medical assessor and will put a value on your claim.
If the Respondent objects to the Injuries Board assessing the claim, then the Injuries Board will automatically issue a document called an authorisation which is a permit allowing the Claimant to proceed with their claim to the courts.
There are various instances when the Injuries Board will themselves decline to assess the claim and that is where your claim includes a significant element of psychological damage or alternatively, if the Injuries Board assumes that it will not be possible for them to have a final prognosis within the time frame allowed. In these instances they would issue an authorisation allowing the Claimant to bring their claim to the courts.
If the Injuries Board is proceeding to assess your claim, and they have received the independent medical report they will also ask you to prepare a schedule of special damages. This is a list of expenditure incurred by you as a result of the accident which would not otherwise been incurred by you the Claimant. You must submit all receipts all in relation to these expenses. These expenses includes doctors visits, pharmacy expenses, loss of earnings to date, physiotherapy expenses, physiotherapy into the future, aids and appliances that are required, travelling expenses, etc. Once the Injuries Board is in receipt of all of this information they will then make an assessment of your claim i.e. they will make an award of compensation. It is open to both parties to accept or reject that award of compensation. If the award is accepted by both parties then it becomes binding and “an order to pay” is issued by the Injuries Board. If the assessment is rejected by any one party i.e. the Claimant or the Respondent then the assessment is no longer binding and an authorisation issued which allows the Claimant to bring their claim through the courts.
How Is Compensation Assessed?
Compensation for injuries is often referred to as damages. Damages can be divided into general damages and special damages. General damages is the amount of money to compensate you for the pain and suffering that you have endured as a result of the injury together with compensation for any inconvenience and loss of amenity.
General damages can also be assessed for pain and suffering into the future.
The Injuries Board has a book of quantum which provided a guideline for the range of values ascribed to particular injuries.
In addition to general damages, special damages may also be awarded. Special damages are items that must be paid to put somebody back in the same financial position that they were prior to the accident or injury taking place. The most common item of special damage claimed by a Claimant is loss of earnings. This would cover past loss of earnings up to the date of the claim and also any future loss of earnings.
Other items of expenditure can also be recovered, for example GP visits, specialist treatment, pharmacy costs, travelling expenses, physiotherapy expenses, nursing care, aids and appliances that might be required as a result of the injury.
It is so important that a Claimant retains receipts for any item of expenditure incurred by them. The Injuries Board and the court require “vouching documentation” i.e. receipts if they are to deal with these expenditure claims.
How Do I Know If My Assessment Is Appropriate?
There is no easy answer to this question. If you have consulted the Injuries Board book of quantum you will have an idea of the range of values within which your injury falls.
Claimants should be very careful that if their prognosis is not yet final they then should be very weary of accepting any assessment. If the prognosis is not final you may require further surgery or further treatment into the future, however, if you settle your claim then you have no right to re-open that case again no matter what further surgeries or interventions that you require.
In order to decide whether the assessment is appropriate for your injuries, you should defer to your solicitor who has years of experience of settling these cases and will be able to assist you in placing a value on your case.
Why choose McElhinney & Associates Solicitors?
The Solicitors in McElhinney & Associates Solicitors have extensive knowledge in dealing with all type of personal injury road traffic claims, ranging from the very minor to the very serious resulting in compensation of millions of euros due to life changing injuries.
We have two office locations in Ireland, in both Donegal and Dublin. We can meet with you face to face, or we have a large conference room facility where we can talk virtually to you about your case.