Injury Compensation Ireland
The Different Types of Injury Compensation in Ireland
There are two types of injury compensation in Ireland – personal injury and professional negligence. The two may be distinct from each other or connected depending on your personal circumstances. For example, if you have suffered a personal injury due to another driver jumping a red traffic signal, the negligent driver is clearly at fault and he (or his insurance company) would be the party responsible for paying compensation for your injury.
Professional negligence is best illustrated by a doctor misdiagnosing an injury. In order – in this instance – for an injury claim in Ireland to be successful, you would have to prove (with the assistance of a solicitor and a medical expert) that the misdiagnosis caused an injury to occur or an existing condition to deteriorate. You would also have to show that the misdiagnosis was avoidable at the time it happened and was due to a lack of skill or the lack of ability to demonstrate that skill.
It is possible that you suffer a personal injury on the road which is then misdiagnosed on arrival at hospital – exacerbating the initial injury. It is estimated that 4% of all patients treated in registered medical establishments in Ireland suffer some form of medical negligence and, with misdiagnosis in Accident and Emergency Departments being one of the most common and critical errors, it is not as unlikely as it may first seem that an injury compensation claim in Ireland could be for both personal injury and professional negligence.
The Injuries Board Ireland
For many victims of personal injury, the first step to claiming injury compensation in Ireland is via the Injuries Board. The Injuries Board was established in 2003 (as the Personal Injuries Assessment Board) to reduce the time and cost of processing an injury compensation claim in Ireland. In both these goals it has been successful – reducing the average length of time it takes to process an injury claim in Ireland from 36 months to just six months, and saving the Irish taxpayer more than €40 million each year in litigation costs.
The Injuries Board has no role in determining liability and does not make any findings of fact in relation to fault or negligence. Instead, it simply values injury claims in Ireland on the basis of evidence presented to it (once the negligent party has agreed liability) and where legal issues are not in doubt, to compensate the victim of a personal injury for their pain and suffering and also for any financial loss they may have experienced due to their personal injury.
If liability is disputed, or the alleged negligent party claims that the victim contributed to their injuries by their own actions, the Injuries Board will not get involved. It simply issues the claimant with an authorisation to pursue their claim for personal injury compensation through the courts. The Injuries Board also declines to be concerned with disagreements over the amount of their assessment should either party object. Again, they will issue an authorisation for the claimant to seek resolution through litigation.
Litigation and Injury Compensation in Ireland
As the Injuries Board plays no part in establishing liability, claims for personal injury compensation in Ireland which involve some element of professional negligence are litigated directly in the courts. In a professional negligence claim, your solicitor will have to prove to the court that you sustained an injury which “on the balance of probability” was caused by an avoidable act – or lack of action – by the professional person who owed you a “duty of care”.
However, when your solicitor constructs a suitably strong case on your behalf – whether it be for professional negligence or personal injury – claims for injury compensation in Ireland are frequently settled by negotiation long before a court appearance is necessary. When the negligent party’s legal representative are satisfied that their client is fully liable for your injuries, they will approach your solicitor with an offer of an out of court settlement, which your solicitor will review and suggest his recommendations.
A solicitor will have an educated idea of how much injury compensation you should receive – even at the point of filling out the application form to the Injuries Board – and therefore it is vital that if you are approached directly by the negligent party’s insurance company with an offer of early settlement that you seek your solicitor’s advice to ensure that you are adequately compensated. If the offer is inappropriate, the solicitor will negotiate on your behalf to ensure that you receive a fair settlement for your injury compensation claim in Ireland.
The Components of Injury Compensation in Ireland
An injury compensation claim in Ireland has two components – General Damages and Special Damages. General damages cover compensation for pain and suffering resulting from the injuries which you sustained in your accident and are calculated with reference to the Book of Quantum – a publication which lists various physical injuries and gives them a value range dependent on the severity of the injury and the length of time it may take for that injury to heal.
The Book of Quantum is not totally comprehensive, and only acts as a guide. Furthermore it makes no account for psychological injury (many serious accident victims suffer some form of post traumatic stress disorder) or non-anatomical injuries (concussion and some repetitive stress injuries fall into this category), so even when it appears that your injuries are straightforward, it is always in your best interests to speak with a solicitor familiar with the contents and limitations of the Book of Quantum.
Special damages account for any out of pocket expenses you have incurred due to your injury. Your expenses could be minimal in the event that you only require a few trips to the hospital to receive treatment, or vast in the case of catastrophic injury – where you may never be able to work again and your home needs to be adapted to cater for special requirements such as wheelchair accessibility. Again, if you discuss your claim for injury compensation in Ireland with a solicitor as soon as an injury has been diagnosed and treated, you will be advised on which special damages you can claim.
The Statute of Limitations and Injury Compensation in Ireland
Limits apply to how much time you have in which to make a claim for injury compensation in Ireland. The date on which you are diagnosed with an injury is regarded in law as the “date of knowledge”, and the Statute of Limitations allows you two years from this date in order to file a claim. This method of calculating a “start” date erases any concerns for people who have developed an industrial disease (for example) many years after they were last exposed to a harmful substance. It also resolves any issues in claims for professional negligence, where you do not have two years from the date the negligent act in which to make a claim for injury compensation in Ireland – but two years from the date on which you discovered that a negligent act had taken place.
Children and Injury Compensation in Ireland
Children are exempted from this rule, and are allowed two years from the date they reach majority in which to claim injury compensation in Ireland. They can, of course, make a claim for injury compensation in Ireland prior to their eighteenth birthday, but have to be represented by a parent or guardian acting as their “next friend”. The other major differences which affect children and injury compensation in Ireland is that application to the Injuries Board cannot be made online when the claimant is a child, and any compensation settlement – whether by assessment, negotiation or litigation – has to be approved in court before payment can be made.
Injury Compensation in Ireland Summary
Resolution of injury compensation claims in Ireland is fairly equally distributed between the acceptance of an Injuries Board assessment, negotiation with the negligent party’s insurance company and litigation. It is in your best interests to engage a solicitor before making any injury claim in Ireland to ensure that the appropriate path is taken, that you claim all that you are entitled to and that you are not time-barred by the Statute of Limitations. It is essential that you seek professional legal advice when making an injury compensation claim in Ireland. It is your right, and failing to exercise that right may result in you being undercompensated for your injury and risking your family’s future financial security.