* Note: In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.
If you have been involved in an accident make sure that no one is injured and if you have any doubts phone for an ambulance.
The key priorities after an accident are:
What is the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB)
PIAB is an independent body set up under the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2007 was enacted to extend the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003. The role of PIAB is to calculate the amount of compensation due to a person who has suffered a personal injury. It is important to note that PIAB do not process medical negligence claims.
How does PIAB work?
If you have suffered a personal injury, there are two options through which compensation can be recovered. The first option is PIAB. The second option is through litigation, i.e. by pursuing your compensation claim through the courts. If you are making a personal injury claim, it is a legal requirement that you first lodge a claim with PIAB before you can litigate using the courts system.
PIAB will only assess a claim for compensation if the other party (the respondent) does not dispute liability. The Respondent must first consent to the assessment before it can be assessed by PIAB. Claims are assessed, based on all of the medical evidence provided, having regard to the level of compensation that is awarded for particular injuries. This is known as assessment in accordance with the Book of Quantum. If either party is dissatisfied with the award, the claim can be transferred to the courts, where Malcomson Law can litigate on your behalf.
Statute of Limitations
The first step in any personal injury action is to consider the statute of limitation. This is the time within which the person who has been injured can issue proceedings. A person who has been injured has 2 years from date of knowledge to institute proceedings. Letter before Action, Section 8 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 states that a letter before action/letter of claim must be written to respondent within a period of two months of the cause of action or as soon as practicable. There is no absolute obligation on a Solicitor to provide the letter within the two month period. The caveat is as soon as practicable.
A prudent solicitor will endeavour to initiate the letter before action, within the two months period, based on the assumption that the solicitor has been instructed in time. There is an obligation to set out in detail the allegations made in the letter before action. It is no longer acceptable to state that an action occurred; you must set out the type of accident and the cause of action. The letter before action must be sent by registered post to the respondent. It is necessary to obtain a medical report prior to submitting an application to PIAB. Whilst there is no absolute obligation there is an implication in the legislation that such a medical report should be sought from the treating doctor of the claimant.
Form A – PIAB Application Form
It is essential that the application form is properly and carefully completed as it may be used in evidence in a future court action. There is a section of the form where the circumstances surrounding the accident are documented. It is imperative that this section is completed by a solicitor. It is vital that the Defendant/Respondent is correctly identified to include correct spelling of name and address and as appropriate, the correct registered address if the Defendant/Respondent is a Limited Company.
The special damages section of the form need not be completed at this stage, as PIAB will seek further information before the application is assessed. The completed PIAB form is to be lodged with the appropriate fee, a Medical Report and a letter from the claimant. There should also be confirmation that you have instructed a solicitor to represent you.
Personal Injury Awards
The most important thing to be very aware of is, that in relation to the award offer, cheque or proposal, it will be sent directly to you as well as your Solicitor. It is essential that you do not accept any cheque, offer or proposal without discussing it with your solicitor first.
If the award is acceptable to the claimant and the respondent then PIAB issues an order to pay to the respondent. The respondent has a period of 28 days to send the cheque to the claimant. If the respondent or the claimant declines the assessment, PIAB issues an authorisation enabling the claimant to commence court proceeding.
Statute of Limitations
If the assessment is rejected by the claimant or respondent, PIAB will issue an authorisation. The statute of limitation will recommence within 6 months from the date of the authorisation. Calculating statute dates can be a minefield.
Seamus Maguire and Co. Solicitors have experienced personal injury solicitors who can help you. If you would like to discuss your legal rights and entitlements, please contact our office by calling 01 8211288 or complete an online enquiry form.