By Orlagh Wafer, Trainee Solicitor
If you think you have a claim because of an accident who should you ask for advice – your friend, the internet, the Injuries Board or your solicitor?
When it comes to personal injury claims we act for the injured person, not the insurance company.
If someone suffers an accident or injury through no fault of their own not only do they have a right to a solicitor but they are well advised to have one.
The Injuries Board was set up in 2004 by the Government as a Statutory Body to assess claims for compensation for anyone who has been in an accident and suffered an injury.
The Injuries Board does not represent the person who is involved in an accident.
The Injuries Board’s mission is keep claims low – both in numbers and cost.
Anyone who suffers an injury should contact their solicitor whose sole job is to make the best case for you.
Why use a Solicitor who is an expert!
The Injuries Board suggest that people do not need to seek legal advice.
They do not tell you what you will have to do if the Injuries Board cannot or refuse to assess the claim.
They do not tell you to check if your compensation amount is reasonable or fair.
And why not?
Why would you not tell someone who is involved in something as serious as an accident to check with an expert?
Why would you leave it to a Body that does not look after your interests only?
Why would you think that a statutory body that is paid by the Insurers is going to be in your corner?
How can the Injuries Board be on both sides and at the same time be independent?
How can they balance the claimant’s entitlement to maximise the claim and the insurer to minimise the claim?
So whose side are you really on!
Earlier this year the Injuries Board revealed almost that 29,000 people made a claim last year: Patricia Byron, CEO of the Injuries Board referred to the increase in compensation claims as a “claims culture”.
I say that the reality is that it is simply a case of injured persons being awarded what they are entitled to.
How is the making of a claim per se a “claims culture”?
Why do we all have to pay insurance, if it is not to cover accidents?
Why should an innocent injured person not be properly compensated?
Why should the Injuries Board try to persuade people not to seek the guidance of a professional in the area of personal injuries?
The approach shown by the Injuries Board and comments about a “claims culture” makes it all the more important for people to have independent advice when they are dealing with a claim.
I would strongly recommend that any person proposing to make any application to the Injuries Board should seek the advice of a professional.
As Time Goes By – Sometimes You have to Wait and See!
The Injuries Board states that they have significantly reduced the amount of time it takes to resolve a claim from three years to seven or nine months, in most cases.
In the majority of cases it can take – at a very minimum – twelve months for symptoms to fully settle down and in a lot of cases the symptoms may take substantially longer to settle down or worse have permanent effects.
If you accept an assessment of compensation in the months after your accident without the proper advice you risk being under compensated should your symptoms continue or even deteriorate afterwards.
This is where the experience and guidance of a person chosen to represent your interests and your interests only is important.
You get one opportunity and one opportunity only.
So remember, if I was having pains in my chest that worried me, I might talk to my friend, look on the internet, but I would be unwise not to go to my doctor.