Your case begins with a consultation. This will be with one of our solicitors who will take your full instructions about the accident and exactly how it happened. If we are satisfied that your injuries or losses were caused by the negligent action of another party, we will write to them, indicating that we will make a claim for compensation on your behalf.
The most important advice is not to delay – you have two years from the date of your accident to bring a claim for compensation. Therefore you should contact us as soon as possible – otherwise you will be prevented by law from proceeding with your claim.
In road traffic accidents, the other party will contact their insurance company who will take over the handling of the case on their behalf. Similarly, if the accident occurred in a public place, or at work, the owner/occupier/employer will contact their insurer who will take over the claim on their behalf.
Injuries Board (PIAB)
Personal injury cases (with the exception of medical negligence cases) are first referred to the Injuries Board. This is a public body whose job is to assess the value of a claim. It doesn’t assess whether someone is at fault and when they fix a figure, either party may accept or reject their assessment.
Prior to submitting a claim to the Injuries Board, it is necessary to get a medical report from your treating doctor. This report will deal with your injuries, treatment and prognosis for recovery. Sometimes, it is possible to settle cases directly with the insurance company prior to submitting the claim to the Injuries Board.
Once we have the medical report, we will submit your claim to the Injuries Board who will then contact the other party and their insurance company to see if they will consent to the Injuries Board assessing the claim. The other side will have 90 days to respond to this. If the other side refuses, the Injuries Board will issue an authorisation and you can then issue court proceedings. In most cases the other side will consent to the Injuries Board assessment of the claim.
Once the other side consents to the assessment, the Injuries Board has nine months within which to make their decision. During this time, the Injuries Board will have you examined by their doctor. We will also submit details of your out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical treatment, GP visits, prescriptions, physiotherapy and loss of earnings.
When the Injuries Board makes their assessment, they will allow compensation for your pain and suffering, known as general damages, and also your out-of-pocket expenses. Either party can accept or reject the Injuries Board’s assessment. We will advise you on the adequacy of the assessment. If it is accepted, the other side/insurance company will usually pay the settlement within four to six weeks.
If the assessment is rejected, the Injuries Board will issue an authorisation allowing you to issue court proceedings. At this stage a barrister will prepare the court papers and the insurance company will nominate a firm of solicitors to act on their behalf.
We will issue proceedings and these are served on the solicitor for the other side. It is generally the case that the other side will require further details of the claim and, with your assistance, we will provide these details. The other side will then prepare a Defence to the claim. When the Defence is received and the case is ready to proceed we will then be in a position to issue a Notice of Trial which has the effect of placing your case in a list of cases awaiting hearing.
While all of this is taking place you should keep a careful note of your injuries and treatment and keep all receipts for treatment you receive. You may be asked to attend your own doctor/s for an updated report on your condition and prognosis. You may also have to attend a doctor who will prepare a report for the insurance company.
During this process we may be invited, by the other side, to a settlement meeting to see if we can settle the case (i.e. agreed without going to Court). These meetings usually take place in the Four Courts in Dublin. At this meeting you will meet with your solicitor and barrister to discuss your case and negotiations will then take place between your legal team and the legal team for the other side. An offer is generally made and you will be advised by your solicitor and barrister as to whether this is adequate. If the offer is accepted, then the case is finalised.
If no offer is made the case will go to trial. At trial you will be required to give evidence about how the accident occurred and your injuries. Your solicitor and barrister will advise you as to what goes on in court and what is expected of you.
Having heard all of the evidence a judge will then decide on your case.
The timescale involved in your case will be determined by a number of factors, the most important being the extent of the injuries you suffered. We will endeavour to progress your case as quickly as possible, either to settle it or have it heard in court. However, there are certain minimum time scales which apply which inevitably lead to a case typically taking at least two to three years from the time of your accident if it goes to Court. Where your case is settled, this timescale will often be much shorter.