One of the unfortunate side effects of industrialisation and the development of the motor car has been a significant increase in the amount of injuries suffered by people, particularly in road traffic accidents. The law cannot put somebody back into the position they were in before the accident and deals with the difficulty by giving them compensation known as “damages”.
In 2005 the Irish government established the Injuries Board, that is based in Clonakilty in Cork. The intention behind this was to reduce insurance costs principally by streamlining the process to take personal injury cases out of the Courts system and reducing the legal costs involved. When a person is injured they, or their Solicitor, firstly have to get a medical report from their doctor. They then complete an application form which is sent along with the appropriate fee and other relevant documentation to the Board. The Defendant and his/her insurance company then have ninety days to decide if they want the Board to asses the case or alternatively if they want the case to go through the Court procedure. The down side of dealing with the Injuries Board is that the Applicant has to pay his/her own legal costs.
Why use a Solicitor?
Despite the introduction of the Injuries Board over 90% of Applicants still get advice from Solicitors when they have suffered injuries. The reason for this is that your Solicitor can advise you on what your appropriate entitlements are. The compensation an injured party is entitled to can vary significantly. In the past six months Pierse Fitzgibbon have been involved in negotiating settlements from as low as €10,000 to as high at €3,600,000. This higher settlement related to an unfortunate victim of a road traffic accident who was rendered paraplegic as a result of his injuries. It was necessary for Pierse Fitzgibbon to retain expert professionals to value his pain and suffering, loss of employment opportunities and future care requirements.
When the Defendant decides not to let a case go to the Injuries Board, or if an assessment is made which is insufficient, then it is necessary for the injured party to take Court proceedings. Pierse Fitzgibbon have fifty years’ experience and have written the book on the Quantum of Damages for Personal Injuries in Ireland. Despite the complex procedure involved in bringing cases to Court, nine out of ten cases settle without going before a Judge.
“With insurance you can always sleep at night”. This is a very wise saying. Insurance is compulsory if you intend to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle. Unfortunately there are cases where people can be injured by drivers without insurance. This is covered by an agreement between the Minister for the Environment and the Insurance Companies called the “MIBI Agreement”. Essentially this is a central fund where all drivers pay approximately €40 per annum to ensure that the victim in an accident with an uninsured driver is not left without the compensation they deserve.
If you are the person who injures another then you should see your Solicitor about this in order to ensure that you reduce any personal potential exposure you may have. Quite often a person’s household policy covers them if they cause injuries to a third party. An example of this is if you struck somebody with a golf ball, or opened an umbrella hitting somebody in the eye. Your home insurance policy will more than likely cover you if that person considered taking a personal injury action against you.