Making an application
Your Solicitor will prepare your file for lodging with the Injuries Board. This will entail taking up a copy of your file from your employer under the Data Protection Acts and gathering all of the relevant medical information in relation to your injuries.
Your Solicitor will write to your GP or your treating Consultant in relation to your injuries and your Solicitor will ask your doctor to provide them with a detailed description of your injury and the prognosis as to when your injury is likely to improve.
Your Solicitor will also request your GP or your Consultant to outline any further treatment which will be necessary to treat you for your injuries. In many cases the trauma of an injury may necessitate the treatment of a Counsellor, Psychiatrist or Psychologist depending on the severity of the accident.
If you have attended a practitioner for the purpose of treating your psychological injuries, then your Solicitor will also request a report in relation those injuries. Once your Solicitor has all of the appropriate information it will lodge your claim to the Injuries Board on your behalf.
What should your claim to the Injuries Board include?
In addition to claiming for general damages for your injuries, your Solicitor should also include a claim for special damages which should include treatment fees, medical consultants, medication, loss of earnings if applicable, physiotherapy, travel and some other relevant expenses which are generally called special damages and cover out of pocket expenditure in relation to your injuries.
Your Solicitor should also include a claim for loss of earnings if you have lost earnings or missed days from work as a result of the accident.
The Injuries Board procedure
The Injuries Board will handle personal injury claims which relate to road traffic accidents, accidents in the workplace and any claim involving an accident which takes place in a public place i.e. public liability.
Your Solicitor will as soon as possible after the accident contact the Defendant and notify them of your intention to make a claim.
Your Solicitor will then prepare your application for submission to the Injuries Board and a completed application which is known as a Form A can be submitted online or by post.
In addition to the Form A your Solicitor will have obtained a medical report from your GP or treating practitioner to submit with your form. In order to submit a claim to the Injuries Board it is also necessary to pay the statutory fee of €45.
Once the Injuries Board is in receipt of the application it will send your Solicitor an acknowledgment of the application and it will acknowledge the date of receipt and will provide an application number.
The Injuries Board will then notify the person that you hold responsible for the accident of your intention of making a claim and the Defendant will also be provided with a copy of your application form and a copy of the medical report.
The Injuries Board will either assess your claim for compensation based on your workplace accident or it will send your Solicitor an Authorisation to take Court proceedings instead of dealing with your case.
Compensation Claims for psychiatric and psychological injuries
Generally speaking the Injuries Board does not assess claims for psychological and psychiatric damages or claims where the prognosis of your injury is likely to carry on beyond the two year statute of limitation period.
In the event that a certificate to issue court proceedings against your employer is authorised by the Injuries Board or if the Injuries Board makes an assessment of your case which in your Solicitors opinion is not enough to compensate you for your injuries arising from your accident, then your Solicitor and your Barrister will draft and issue Court proceedings in your case.
Notifying the Defendant of your Injuries Board Claim
The Injuries Board will then notify the other party and their insurers of the injuries board claim and the Injuries Board will allow the other party a period of 90 days to consent to having your claim assessed by the Injuries Board.
By this stage your employer will have received notification from your solicitor if your intention to take a claim and your employer will not be surprised to receive the injuries board correspondence.
The employer will normally pass the correspondence from the injuries board to the employer’s insurers who will liaise with your employers.
The Assessment of damages procedure at Injuries Board stage
The Injuries Board will assess the compensation relevant to your claim but if the defendant or the defandants do not consent to having your claim assessed by the Injuries Board, the Injuries Board will then issue your solicitor with a Certificate of Authorisation allowing you to take Court proceeding in respect of your injuries.
If the Defendant fails to respond in writing to the Injuries Board with confirmation as to whether they agree to the Board making an assessment of your claim, then the Board may continue to deal with your claim and may continue to assess your claim because the failure of the Defendant to respond in writing will be deemed to be consent by the defendant to allow the injuries board assess your claim.
What is an Injuries Board assessment?
When the Injuries Board makes an assessment in your case, that assessment will normally include the general damages and special damages and loss of earnings that they consider you entitled to.
(See our comprehensive guide to special damages and general damages here)
Sinnott Solicitors will advise you as to whether they consider the assessment to be a fair assessment in light of the circumstances of your accident.
We have dealt with so many injuries claims that we will know whether the assessment given to you reflects a fair assessment of your claim.
Awards and Acceptance of Assessments
If the Defendant also accepts the assessment of the Injuries Board, the Injuries Board will issue what is known as an “order to pay”. The order to pay has the same status as an award from a Court.
It is very important to know that if you do not reply within 28 days to accept the assessment of the Injuries Board, then you will be deemed to have rejected the Injuries Board’s assessment.
If either you or the Defendant rejects the Injuries Board assessment then the Injuries Board will issue an authorisation which will allow you to pursue the claim through the Court system.
It is important to note that Section 51a of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2007 provides that if you reject an award of the Board that the Defendant accepts and if you later do not subsequently exceed the award in proceedings, then you will not receive any award of costs from the Court and the Court might exercise its discretion in awarding costs against you.
Despite the above the data and the statistics show that the majority of Injuries Board awards which are refused are later exceeded in subsequent proceedings because it is often the case that the Injuries Board awards are not sufficient to compensate a Plaintiff fully for their injuries and distress.
Taking a claim against the correct Defendant
If you sue or take a claim against more than one person on the basis that one or more people are responsible for the injuries that you sustained, you must in your application to the Injuries Board name all of the parties whom you consider to be responsible for your accident. Those parties in addition to the main Defendant are known as co-Defendants.
Your Solicitor will advise you of the person whom you should write to and your Solicitor will carry out various company searches to ensure that the correct Defendant is named on the Form A to the Injuries Board or later on in the court proceedings.
Equally if the Defendant is of the opinion that a third party is responsible for your claim, then the Defendant may wish to join the third party as a party to those proceedings in Court proceedings. They must do so but only with the consent of the Court.
Suing the correct Defendant – O’Byrne letter procedure
Your Solicitor will be well familiar with the O’Byrne letter procedure where your Solicitor will write to all of the parties whom you consider to be responsible for your injuries and your Solicitor will invite the parties to admit liability for the accident or your injuries and it will set out the legal position to those parties in the event that they do not consent or accept liability for the accident.
It will quite often be the case that a reply will be received from a third party who considers that they are not responsible for the accident in which case your Solicitor can make a call as to whether or not liability should attach to that party.
Accident claims for minors under the age of 18
In the event that the Injuries Board makes an assessment in relation to a minor or a person under the age of 18 then the award must firstly be approved by a Court.
If a person is under 18 he or she will need a “next friend” in order to make a claim for him or her to the Injuries Board or to take Court proceedings and your Solicitors will advise you of the various forms which your Solicitor can fill out on the minors behalf.
Generally a “next friend” is the parent or guardian of the injured minor and any award of the court will be held in trust by the Court Services until the minor reaches the age of 18.
Certain payments can be applied for and paid out by the Court of those payments are deemed necessary for the child’s wellbeing.
Time limit for assessing your injuries claim by injuries board
Once the Injuries Board are in receipt of your claim, they must assess your claim within a period of nine months.
If the Injuries Board does not assess your claim within a period of nine months they may write to you and the other party requesting an extension of time to deal with your claim.
Social welfare claims and compensation awards
From August 1st 2014 under the provisions of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2013, there is a new duty and legal obligation on an Insurance Company and the Defendant on the settlement of a claim for non-fatal personal injury claims.
The legal obligation is to reimburse the Minister for Social Protection any welfare payments which were made to the Claimant as a result of their inability to work following a non-fatal accident. The benefits under the Act are known as “recoverable benefits”.
Now when the Injuries Board issues a Notice for Assessment, that assessment will not only set out the compensation that it deems appropriate for a Claimant’s case but it will also set out the amount due back to the Minister for Social Protection in relation to any welfare benefits that the Claimant received because of his or her inability to work due to the accident.
What happens if the Injuries Board issue an Authorisation in my case?
If the Injuries Board issue an authorisation in your case, you may then proceed with your case through the Court system.
The Time Limit in which to take court proceedings after the issuance of an Authorisation is 6 months from the date of the authorisation.
If my case goes to Court, what Court is my case taken in?
If the Injuries Board issue a Certificate of Authorisation for you to take proceedings in your case, the proceedings will either be lodged in the District Court, the Circuit Court or the High Court depending on the nature of your injuries and the amount of compensation sought.
- The District Court deals with all cases up to the value of €15,000.
- The Circuit Court deals with all personal injuries cases up to the value of €60,000.
- The High Court deals with all personal injuries cases up to an unlimited value.
Your Solicitor and Barrister will assess the strength of your medical evidence in your overall case including your loss of earnings, the inconvenience and any special damageswhich you are entitled to.
90% of cases settle outside of a court because generally a settlement meeting is arranged between your Solicitors and the Solicitors for your employers.
It is normal that the Solicitors for the defendant’s insurance company to attend the Law Library at the Four Courts, Dublin for a settlement meeting with your Solicitors in order to see if the matter can be settled before proceeding to a full court hearing.