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 damages which 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.