Catastrophic Injury Cases

This year alone we have acted for three clients in cases which involved catastrophic injuries. These cases were settled for an average of in excess of €2.75 million each. Such cases usually involve either a brain injury or a spinal injury that rendered the unfortunate injured party paraplegic or quadriplegic.
How is the sum calculated?
Under Irish law compensation is calculated under the headings of general damages and special damages. General damages are awarded for pain and suffering. Special damages are a calculation of the injured party’s medical expenses, past and future loss of earnings and future medical and care requirements. Unfortunately, Irish Courts have what we consider a low ceiling on general damages of approximately €450,000.00. This would be the maximum you would be awarded if you were quadriplegic or brain damaged. The main bulk of the compensation that a catastrophically injured Plaintiff gets is made up of special damages.
Future care:
This is usually the most challenging part of a case for us when we represent somebody who has been extremely seriously injured. We will usually engage Care Consultants and Occupational Therapists to examine the doctors reports and meet with the injured party in their own home in order to calculate what their weekly care requirements would be. Often the care is furnished by a family member however we always calculate it on the basis of an independent professional supplying the care. The amount of care that a person can require can vary from a few hours a day helping them with some tasks they are not able to do, to 24 hour around the clock care for somebody who is very seriously brain injured. The challenge is to convince a Judge that a significant amount of care is required as when the figures are actuarialised for the rest of a person’s life they can be calculated at several million euro.
Future loss of earnings:
A further area of significant losses is when an able-bodied person was working a full time job earning a good wage and is injured. The spectrum here could range from a person being incapable of working in the future to the injured party being compromised in the market place for jobs because of their injury. Most employment application forms now include a questionnaire about the Applicant’s health. Loss of earnings into the future involves persuading a Judge to accept that the injured party loses several hundred euro per week for the remainder of their working life until retirement of say 65. An Actuary then calculates what the capital sum for this is.
People read regularly in the papers about settlements of 3, 4 or 5 million euro. This sounds like a lot of money but nobody would wish to trade places with the people who have suffered catastrophic injuries. The compensation requires extremely careful investment to ensure it is sufficient to take care of the injured party for the remainder of their life. Cases involving catastrophic injuries are extremely complex to deal with and the groundwork needs to be properly prepared from the first consultation with the Solicitor.
-Riobard Pierse