Do I need a solicitor to make a personal injury claim?
Since the enactment of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) on the 22nd July 2004, it seems to be ever increasingly fashionable for a claimant who sustained a personal injury which resulted from an accident due to no fault of their own to be advised that they do not need a Solicitor to bring their claim.
Indeed, PIAB openly encourages claimants to submit their own applications and advises them of the steps of how to do so.
Why you need a Solicitor during the PIAB process
As is the case with all types of Personal Injury claims, a victim has two years from the date of the accident to bring a claim. While this may seem like a long period of time, it is often the case that victims of such accidents wait a considerable period of time to bring a claim when it becomes clear to them that their injuries are persisting. If the claimant leaves it very late to bring a clam without the assistance of a Solicitor, it is inevitable that they are going to be met with a number of obstacles which might lead to their claim becoming statute barred. And this is assuming the claimant is aware of the 2-year statutory period.
2. Identifying the correct respondent (ie third party responsible for your accident)
Depending on the type of accident you have been involved in, it is important that the correct person or legal entity responsible for the accident is identified when beginning your claim. For example, this could be your employer in a workplace accident, a public body for an accident on a public footpath or national park or indeed a property owner for any accident in a restaurant, bar or nightclub. Your Solicitor will be able to carry out the required investigations and put the correct party on notice of your claim in order to protect your interests and begin your claim.
3. Dealing with the Insurance Company of a third party
It is often the case that after an accident occurs, an injured party would be told that they do not need a solicitor and would be put under pressure to accept a fast settlement offer. Such offers often come from insurance companies once their insured has been put on notice of a claim and it is established that their insured is liable for the accident. These offers usually follow very soon after an accident has occurred before the matter ever reaches PIAB. While some offers might seem attractive from the outset, an injured party would often accept the settlement without considering the full extent of their injuries in circumstances where the injuries persist at the time of settlement. A Solicitor will have vast experience dealing with such insurance companies and will be very well placed to advise you as to whether any settlement offer at such an early stage should be accepted. This advice is heavily influenced by the medical evidence available at the time the settlement offer is made in terms of the injured parties’ prognosis.
4. Dealing with the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI)
In circumstances where you are involved in a Road Traffic Accident and the other driver responsible for the accident is uninsured, it is necessary to apply to the MIBI when beginning your claim. Strict procedures need to be followed in this regard in terms of putting the MIBI on notice of the claim, completing the required application form and reporting the matter to the Gardai. Your Solicitor will be able to advise you of all the details required and can deal with the MIBI and indeed PIAB on your behalf.
5. Medical Report
In order to submit an application with PIAB, a medical report from the claimant’s treating doctor is required. However, without the assistance of a Solicitor, a claimant would need to request the report directly from their doctor which could lead to the claimant failing to provide the proper context behind the accident and failing to request exactly what is required in the report in terms of their injuries, the treatment they require and their prognosis for the future. With a Solicitor onboard, a claimant can rest assured that their Solicitor will provide proper instructions to their treating doctor.
6. Medical Report and Privacy issues
Once a report is obtained and submitted with PIAB, PIAB then send a copy of the report together with the Form A application to the Respondent (ie the third party the claimant holds responsible for their accident) without screening whether there is potentially sensitive information such as a previous mental or physical illness which is unrelated to the subject injuries. With a Solicitor instructed, your Solicitor will ensure that your medical report is properly screened for the purposes of your application before submitting it with PIAB. If there is any issues with the report, your Solicitor can make contact with your treating doctor for any amendments that may need to be made.
7. PIAB assessment and a satisfactory settlement
In circumstances where a Respondent has consented to an assessment in your matter, PIAB will then begin its investigations into your accident and injuries and ultimately make an assessment of damages in your matter by coming up with a compensation figure. If both parties agree to the assessment, that will be the end of the matter and the claimant will receive their compensation. However, what if the compensation is awarded in circumstances where there is no final prognosis of a claimant’s injuries in the claimant’s initial medical report? What if the claimant’s initial medical report recommended follow up specialist treatment? What if the claimant continues to experience symptoms of their injuries at the time of the PIAB assessment and settlement? Without the assistance and expert knowledge of a Solicitor, a claimant may settle for compensation with PIAB which is not adequate in relation to the Injuries they have suffered and once a claim is settled, there is no going back.
It is clear from the above that a person should always obtain independent legal advice from professional lawyers from a law firm in Dublin in all legal matters and this is no different when it comes to Personal Injury claims.
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In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with Reg.8 of SI 518 of 2002.
If you would like to discuss making a personal injury claim please contact us to discuss further by calling our phone number: 01 234 0044 . We will be happy to have a no obligation conversation with you to discuss your claim and provide you with advice and an initial opinion regarding your injury, the process from the personal injuries assessment board to issuing proceedings in a case. We pride ourselves in knowing that our clients are always fully informed and advised of all aspects of their case from the beginning when they first speak to us regarding an injury, right the way through to a final award or settlement.
Cosgrove Gaynard Solicitors, 39 Waterloo road, Dublin 4.
We also have a number of other practice areas and would be happy to discuss any other work you would like to discuss with a solicitor. Call us now for further details or for initial advice.
Phone: 01 234 0044 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com or complete our online assessment form.