Managing the Defence of Personal Injury Claims

Personal-Injury-Claim-FormThis section applies to Republic of Ireland Claims only

Because of the establishment of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB), now known as Injuriesboard.ie and the publication of the liability-and-courts-act-2004/">Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004, the management of the defence of Personal Injury Claims in Ireland is now much more complicated than in Northern Ireland.

The handling of the InjuriesBoard.ie process should also take account of the procedures which apply under the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004. Therefore, we advise that you adhere to the following:

Accident happens or illness notified

This should be investigated speedily and thoroughly. If the accident was a Road Traffic accident, ensure to notify the Garda Siochana immediately. Always ensure that the Gardai attend at the scene of the accident before you leave. Ensure to contact your insurers. Take such professional advice. At Morgan McManus we can advise you of your obligations under the relevant legislation and ensure that you take appropriate precautions to preserve evidence.

‘Letter of claim” is served

This must be served within two months of the accident which gives rise to the claim or within two months of a person becoming aware of a cause of claim (e.g. an illness). At this stage, the employer may settle the claim (which would be the end of the matter), allow it to proceed to the InjuriesBoard.ie, or decide to defend it.

Dealing with the Claim

The InjuriesBoard.ie will notify the Respondent of the claim. If an employer decides to let a claim proceed along the InjuriesBoard.ie route, that is not an admission of liability, but we refer you to the possible delay concerns which you should consider as outlined in the section PIAB Advice for the Employer.

If the Respondent consents to the InjuriesBoard.ie making an assessment, the assessor shall then proceed with the case. A Respondent who consents to the InjuriesBoard.ie making an assessment does not admit liability.

If the Respondent refuses to consent to the InjuriesBoard.ie making an assessment, then the InjuriesBoard.ie will issue a document, referred to as an ‘Authorisation’, which will entitle the Claimant to proceed and take court action.

The InjuriesBoard.ie assesses the claim but will not investigate liability. Having made its assessment, the InjuriesBoard.ie will then notify both the Claimant and the Respondent. The Claimant will have 28 days within which to write to the InjuriesBoard.ie, saying whether he  accepts the assessment or not. The Respondent shall have 21 days to reply. If a Claimant fails to respond to notice of an assessment within 28 days, he shall be deemed to have rejected it. If a Respondent fails to respond within 21 days, he shall be deemed to have accepted the assessment. This is very important to bear in mind. That is, unless the Respondent positively states with that period of time that he is rejecting the assessment then he will be deemed to have accepted it and will be legally bound to pay it. It is therefore very important for a Respondent to diary forward the date of notification of receipt of the assessment and ensure that he does not fall foul of this critical date.

Authorization

If either the Claimant or the Respondent rejects the assessment, the InjuriesBoard.ie will issue an ‘Authorisation’ to the Claimant, which will release him to take court proceedings. The Claimant will have six months from the date of the ‘Authorisation’ to institute court proceedings.

Legal Proceedings

The Claimant institutes legal proceedings by issuing a ‘Personal Injuries Summons’ in either the High, Circuit or District Court. The Court chosen will depend on the value the Claimant’s advisors put on the claim. The District Court handles claims up to €6,348. The Circuit Court handles claims over that amount up to €38,092 and the High Court deals with claims for more than that amount. Very few Claims for personal Injury would be issued within the District Court.

From hereon the Claim would be handled by your solicitors. An Appearance document is filed by your Solicitors and they are also entitled to seek further information from the Claimant on his Claim. In due course a Defence is filed, either admitting or denying liability. All Pleadings must be supported by Verifying Affidavits, which must be sworn by both Claimants and Defendants.

Mediation

Either party to the Court Action can apply to the Court to convene a Mediation Conference. The purpose of a Mediation Conference is try and settle the case. A Mediation Conference will be chaired by a mediator. The mediator will report to the Court on the outcome of the Conference. There is also provision under the statute for either party to make open offers of settlement. We will be able to advise you further on whether an offer should be made and the amount which should be offered, if appropriate. If the matter cannot be resolved on this basis the the Action goes to Trial.

Mitigating Cost

If it is appropriate for a case to be settled (where liability is admitted) then we will use all reasonable endeavours to settle the Claim at the earliest possible date. We will do everything possible to minimize the cost of legal proceedings.

In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.