Complete Guide to Personal Injury Claims

The Complete Guide to Personal Injury* Claims

Thousands of personal injury* claims are made in Ireland each year. Road or motoring accidents are the most common – accounting for 70% of all claims in 2018. But what is a personal injury* claim? And what does the application process entail?

At Martin A. Harvey & Co. Solicitors, we have been helping people for decades to navigate personal injury* claims. This guide is designed to help you to know what to expect during the claims process.

If you have an injury claim case for compensation, please contact us and one of our expert team will help to determine if you have a valid case.

What is a personal injury* claim?

A personal injury* claim refers to the legal action taken by a person after they have been involved in an accident or injured because of the actions or negligence of another person or entity. A claim seeks compensation for the accident or injury such as damages, cost of medical care, loss of wages due to missed work, and psychological trauma.

If you have been involved in an accident where you have suffered injuries as a result of somebody else’s wrong doing, then you may be entitled to make a claim.

Types of personal injury* claims

Most cases will fall under one of the following common personal injury* claim types:

Road Accidents*

Road accidents claims* are any type of accident or injury sustained on the road by road users including motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Some examples of these types of claims are:
  • Car accidents*
  • Pedestrian accidents*
  • Rear-end or side-impact collisions*
  • Bicycle accidents*
  • Motorcycle accidents*
  • Accidents due to poorly maintained roads*
  • Bus accidents*
  • Hit and run Accidents*
  • Accidents on the motorway*
  • Passenger accidents*

Work Accidents*

Work accident* claims (also known as employer liability* claims) refer to any accident or injury sustained in the workplace as a direct result of the negligence of the employer or fellow employees. Some common accidents or injuries at work include:

  • Construction site accidents*
  • Farm accidents*
  • Dangerous or faulty machinery accidents*
  • Health and safety violations*
  • Accidents caused by poor lighting*
  • Ladder accidents*
  • Repetitive strain injuries*
  • Faulty personal protective equipment*
  • Manual handling injuries*

Public Claims*

Public claims (also known as public liability* claims) refer to any accident or injury sustained in a public place as a result of improperly maintained as a safe environment for public use. Common public accident* claims include:

  • Slips, trips and falls in public places*
  • Car park accidents*
  • Accidents caused by a poorly maintained footpath, public park or a hazardous public space*
  • Food poisoning from a restaurant*
  • Accidents caused by spillages or wet floors*

Who is involved with a claim?

The Claimant

The Claimant, also known as the Plaintiff, is the injured party making a claim.

The Respondent

The Respondent, also known as the Defendant, is the person or entity who the Claimant holds responsible for the accident or injury.

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) is an independent statutory body that deals with personal injury* claims. All personal injury* claims in Ireland (except for cases involving medical negligence) must be submitted to the PIAB.

The PIAB provides an independent assessment of personal injury* claims for compensation following road traffic, workplace or public liability accidents. If the person you hold responsible for your injury (the Respondent) does not want the PIAB to assess your claim for compensation, you can take your claim to court.

The Solicitors

A solicitor will help look out for your best interest, protect your rights and help provide an accurate picture of the true extent of your injuries and suffering (physical and psychological) either now, or in the future.
They will:
  1. Take detailed instruction from you
  2. Uplift a Comprehensive Medical Report from your treating physician
  3. Prepare and submit a complete Application with the PIAB
  4. Provide the necessary advice as to whether a PIAB Assessment should be accepted or rejected
  5. If necessary, arrange for the necessary Court proceedings to be drafted and then represent you in Court

The Insurers

The Respondent's insurers are typically who is responsible for the payment of an awarded compensation.

How to make a claim

  1. Speak with a solicitor
  2. Without specialist legal advice you may not be fully aware of your rights and entitlements and how best to deal with a personal injuries* claim. Reaching a settlement directly with an insurance company may not be in your best interests and you should seek legal and medical advice to ensure you have the best chance of receiving appropriate compensation for your current and future needs in light of the injuries you have sustained.

  3. Contact the responsible party
  4. A letter should be sent by registered post to the person you believe caused the injury within one month of the accident or injury. The letter should set out the type of accident and the cause of action.

    If a letter is not issued, it will not affect the PIAB’s assessment but could affect a judge hearing the case if it progresses to court. The judge will take this into account and can either refuse to award legal costs to you or reduce any costs award accordingly. Given the importance of the initial letter, it is advisable that you seek legal advice as early as possible following an accident or injury so that the letter can be drafted by a solicitor on your behalf.

  5. Establish your medical history
  6. In addition your Solicitor will write to your treating consultant or your General Practitioner requesting a report on your injuries and setting out the history of your attendance, the nature of your injuries the treatment afforded in respect of your injuries and a general prognosis into the future as to how your injury is likely to improve or otherwise. It will usually give an indication of the anticipated duration and the extent of your injury.

    In a number of accident cases, a Claimant may suffer psychological injuries and require a referral to a psychiatrist to deal with this type of injury.

  7. Fill out an Injury Claim Application
  8. An injury claim* application requires multiple forms and documentation. When working with a solicitor, they will prepare and submit these forms on your behalf. Necessary documents include:
    • A completed Application Form (Form A) (pdf) which can be submitted online or by post.
    • A Medical Assessment Form (Form B) (pdf) completed by your treating doctor.
    • Application fee payment.
    • Any receipts of financial loss that you have incurred as a result of the accident, together with any other documentation you may consider relevant to your claim.

    If you are making a claim for someone who has been fatally injured, then this form must be used Fatal Accident Application Form (Form A) (pdf).

  9. Submit application
  10. When the PIAB receives your application for compensation, your application will be given a number. Then the PIAB will inform the Respondent about your claim.

    The Respondent has 90 days to agree to let the PIAB assess your claim. If the Respondent agrees to this, they must pay a fee. If the Respondent does not do this, the PIAB will issue you with an Authorisation. This is a legal document that allows you to take your claim through the courts if you wish.

  11. Awarding of claim
  12. When the PIAB makes an assessment all involved parties will be notified including the Claimant and their solicitor and the Respondent and their insurers.

    The Claimant has 28 days to decide whether to accept or reject the award. If the Claimant accepts it, they must acknowledge this in writing to the PIAB. If the Claimant doesn’t reply within 28 days, it is taken that they have rejected the assessment.

    The Respondent has 21 days to accept or reject the assessment. If the Respondent does not reply within this time limit, it is taken that they have accepted the assessment.

    If both parties accept the assessment, the PIAB will issue an Order to Pay to the Respondent. If either you or the Respondent rejects the assessment, the PIAB will issue you with an Authorisation allowing you to take your claim to court.

    Note that once an assessment is accepted, it cannot be revisited again. So the Claimant needs to account for the current level of injury recovery and ensure the amount of compensation adequately covers the level of damages and remaining recovery time.

Exceptions to the PIAB process

There are a couple of exceptions to the PIAB emit to assess all Personal Injuries* Actions.

For exclusive psychological or psychiatric injuries, the Board will not assess such claims. However, where there is a psychological or psychiatric element to a personal injuries claim, it is often the case that the Board will proceed to make an assessment in this matter.

The PIAB is also not empowered to deal with medical negligence claims as these are excluded the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 as amended.

In general, if a case is complicated in terms of injuries or indeed liability, then the Board will often exercise its discretion and refuse to deal with the case as they are constrained by time limitations.

FAQs about Personal Injury* Claims

How do I know if I have a claim?

Our team of personal injury* specialists can help advise about your case. We will take the time to learn about you and the situation and make sure you understand your rights.

Generally, to be eligible for a claim, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You have been in an accident or injured where someone else is at fault
  • The accident needs to have happened within the last two years

What type of claims are not assessed?

PIAB does not assess the following claims:

  • Medical negligence claims*
  • Assault claims*
  • Cases, where the injuries sustained, are wholly psychological

PIAB may also decline claims where there are complexities arising from pre-existing medical conditions.

Do I have to instruct a solicitor to make a claim?

No, you are not legally obligated to instruct a solicitor to make a personal injuries* claim. However, suffering from a personal injury can be a very traumatic experience. It can take many forms including physical injury and pain and psychological pain such as fear, anxiety, depression, reduced vitality and psychiatric illness.

This pain and suffering is often ignored by insurance companies if approached directly in order to reach a quick settlement. A solicitor will help look out for your best interest, protect your rights and provide an accurate picture of the true extent of your injuries and suffering either now, or in the future.

Is there an application fee?

There is a fee to submit the application to the PIAB and a fee for

How much are legal fees?

In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.

How long will it take?

On average, claims made to the PIAB are assessed in just over 7 months from when the Respondent consents to have the claim assessed by the PIAB. Personal injury claims taken in the courts can take up to 36 months.

Are there time limits?

Yes, there is a certain window of time in which to make a personal injury* claim following an accident. A Claimant must notify the Respondent within one month of their intent to make a claim. Then, a person has two years less one day from the date of knowledge of their injury to bring a claim forward.

What is the date of knowledge?

The date of knowledge refers to the date on which the injured person gained knowledge of the following facts. In many cases, the date of knowledge will be the day of the accident if the injuries are immediately noticeable. However, in some cases, an injury or illness may not manifest for some time after the accident. In these cases, the date of knowledge is the date they found out they were injured.

The law is different for persons under the age of 18. In law these persons are called minors and the Rules in terms of taking claims and time restrictions are much easier for minors than they are for persons over the age of 18 who are deemed to be legal adults.

A person under the age of 18 has two years from the date of their 18th birthday to take a claim for personal injuries* arising out of an accident during their minority.

What are the award amounts?

The Book of Quantum is a general guide to the amounts that may be awarded, and legislation requires PIAB to regard it when assessing claim values. The Book of Quantum give us a guideline of a value for the injury you have sustained, but there are other factors that may be taken into account when making a claim, such as:

  • Loss of earnings, past and future
  • Medical bills, past and future
  • Other out of pocket expenses, for example, travel costs

Your solicitor will help you interpret the PIAB assessment and together you may come to a decision. Important to note is that you have the final say in whether to settle the case at this stage.

What is Contributory Negligence?

Contributory negligence is when the Claimant is found to have contributed to the situation which caused the accident or increased the severity of their injuries. This will reduce the potential award amount. Consulting an experienced solicitor can help minimise contributory negligence that may prevent you from receiving the maximum compensation to which you are entitled.

Get Started on a Claim

In respect of Personal Injuries* Litigation, our expertise at Martin A Harvey & Co. Solicitors range in the following circumstances:

  • Accidents at work/workplace accidents*
  • Local authority claims / trip-and-fall cases*
  • Road traffic accidents*
  • Fatal injuries actions*
  • Garda compensation cases*
  • Nervous shock / post-traumatic stress cases*
  • Criminal Injury Compensation Tribunal*

If you would like to discuss a personal injury* that you have suffered, please contact the team at Martin A Harvey & Co. Solicitors and we would be happy to assist you.

*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.