Tipp FM Legal Slot – 14th January 2014
Andrea Gleasure on Personal Injury
Last year, we regularly discussed personal injury claims and the Injuries Board’s suggestion that legal representation is not necessary and that claims can be resolved within seven or nine months. Today, as part of Lynch Solicitors’ New Resolutions discussions, Andrea Gleasure advises listeners – do not underestimate your personal injury. Andrea, would an injured person’s symptoms have fully developed within nine months and what happens if the claim is already settled and new symptoms arise?
1) Don’t accept an offer until Injuries are fully developed!
The Injuries Board has stated 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.
It is a serious risk to accept compensation for injuries which are not fully recovered as no one knows how long the recovery process will take or if there may be lasting damage.
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.
If an assessment made by the Injuries Board is accepted by a claimant and further injuries or symptoms develop can the injured person review their claim with the Board?
2) 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.
The assessment process with the Injuries Board is rigid. 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 and wrongs prior to the hearing of the case. The Injuries Board does not allow this.
Once your application is submitted 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.
Can someone who suffers a personal injury deal with the Injuries Board directly without a solicitor?
3) 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 if 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 or slips and falls or any other kind of injury.
If someone suffers an accident or injury through no fault of their own they have a right to a solicitor and to compensation.
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.
Is the Injuries Board an independent body?
4) Protect Your Own Interests – Appoint an Expert that 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.
One of the hallmarks of the system should be that the Injuries Board is independent and should do its job without taking sides as the two sides have differing interests – the claimant to maximise the claim and the insurer to minimise the claim.
In March 2013 the Irish Independent reported an increase in claims of 5% since last year and an increase of 25% since 2007. The Injuries Board revealed almost 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”.
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.
The Injuries Board does not tell an injured person to check if the compensation amount is reasonable or fair.
The Injuries Board should not try to dissuade people from seeking the guidance of a professional in the area of personal injuries.
The one sided approach shown by the Injuries Board and comments about a “claims culture” makes it all the more important for people to have independent advice which is outside of the Injuries Board.
Complexities can arise, even in what may seem the most straight forward 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.