The first thing which is vital, immediately following any type of injury, be it a road traffic accident, slip, trip and fall, workplace accident is to take photographs of the scene of the accident immediately.
An engineer should be involved at the very outset, they can attend at the scene of the accident i.e. a public place, a roadway. They will take photographs measurements, sketches. Very often after an accident, the scene of the accident or the location can be repaired, fixed or amended, which makes proving liability more difficult. Therefore, the engineering evidence will become invaluable at that stage. It is vital that the engineering evidence be obtained as soon as possible after the accident so that vital evidence is not lost. For example if there are skid marks on a roadway which can determine the speed that a vehicle was travelling at the time of the accident then these need to be assessed before they are lost.
You should contact your solicitor as soon as you are well enough to do so and they will write immediately to the Respondent seeking an undertaken in writing that the scene of the accident will be preserved and that all evidence will be preserved in the state that it was immediately after the accident occurred. If the Respondent does not co-operate with that request then your solicitor can bring an application to the court seeking an injunction preventing the Respondent from disposing or destroying any evidence that is required in your case.
The Injuries Board application and assessment is based on full liability i.e. that the Respondent is fully responsible for the injuries inflicted on the Claimant. However, it is open to the Respondent, once the assessment is made to reject the assessment and the Claimant then has to proceed to court with their claim. At that stage the Respondent can decide to fully contest the question of liability and state that they were not responsible for the injuries whatsoever. Then it becomes absolutely imperative that all of the evidence has been preserved.
At the very outset your solicitor will write to the person whom they believe to be responsible asking them to admit liability immediately. There is an onus on you the Claimant to notify the Respondent as soon as practicable of all of the details of the claim and therefore, there should be delay in sending this letter to the Respondent. These letters are supposed to be sent out within a two month period from the date of the accident or injury.
*in contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award of settlement.
**This information is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice, professional or legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this publication. No liability is accepted by McElhinney & Associates for any action taken in reliance on the information contained herein. Any and all information is subject to change.