Legal Column, South Tipp Today, 30th January 2014
As part of our New Year’s Resolutions discussions, today I advise readers – do not underestimate your personal injury.
Don’t accept an offer until Injuries are fully developed!
The Injuries Board previously stated that they have significantly reduced the amount of time it takes to resolve a claim to seven or nine months, in most cases. In the majority of cases it can take – at a very minimum – twelve months for symptoms of an injury to fully settle down and, in a lot of cases, the symptoms may either take substantially longer to settle or can involve permanent injuries.
It is a serious risk to accept compensation for injuries which are not fully recovered.
If you accept an assessment of compensation in the months after your accident without the proper advice you risk being hugely under compensated should your symptoms continue or even deteriorate afterwards.
Settling with the Injuries Board is Final!
Once the Injures Board’s offer is accepted by the injured person it is in full and final settlement for that injury and there is no turning back. On the other hand, when a personal injuries claim is taken before the Courts you submit your claim at the outset and can then update details and particulars of the injuries before the hearing of the case. The Injuries Board does not allow this.
Once your application is submitted to the Board you cannot update or change your claim at a later stage. This is particularly risky where a claim is submitted before your injuries have settled down as the situation can change very quickly leaving the Board assessing what is not the full extent of your injuries.
It is worth noting also that the Injuries Board will not examine who was at fault in making any assessment and will not award compensation for this aspect.
Deal with the Injuries Board without an Expert – at Your Own Expense!
The Injuries Board have suggested that people do not need to seek legal advice; that they do not need an expert to determine the value of their claim; that they do not need a solicitor in case the Injuries Board cannot – or refuse to – assess the claim – or if they do assess it and the amount is not reasonable. This is not the case.
In 2012, Patricia Byron, CEO of the Injuries Board, stated that direct claimants can have their claims assessed for a refundable fee of €45 and that in assessing claims the Board makes no distinction between a direct applicant and a claimant who pays an intermediary. Ultimately, this could be a costly move by an injured person.
Last year, we had a case where the Injuries Board offered a client of ours €12,000 for an injury suffered; the client did not accept the Injuries Board offer, the case went to the High Court and the client was awarded €257,000. This shows the importance of having legal representation.
Solicitors act for the injured person, not the insurance company, and we represent the interests of the injured person alone. The Injuries Board is an independent body and does not represent someone who is involved in an accident – be it a road traffic accident, a workplace accident, slips and falls or any other kind of injury.
The Injuries Board will try to keep claims low – both in numbers and cost – so anyone who suffers an injury should contact their solicitor who will put the best case possible forward for them and ensure they are entitled to an amount of compensation that fully reflects the injury suffered.
Protect Your Own Interests – Appoint an Expert who is on Your Side!
The Injuries Board was set up in 2004 by the Government as an independent body to assess claims for compensation for anyone who has been in an accident and suffered an injury. Last year, Patricia Byron, CEO of the Injuries Board, referred to an increase in compensation claims as a “claims culture”. In reality, in the vast majority of cases it is simply a case of injured persons being awarded what they are entitled to.
We all have to pay insurance to cover accidents and if an innocent person is injured they are entitled to be properly compensated.
Complexities can arise, even in what may seem the most straightforward injury claim, so we would always recommend that you would seek legal advice before making any application to the Injuries Board.
We, at Lynch Solicitors, have over 30 years’ experience in achieving results for those who have suffered personal injuries. We have expert knowledge on how these claims should be dealt with and on how you can achieve the best possible result if you have experienced injury through no fault of your own.