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  • In Northern Ireland a claimant has 3 years from the date of the accident / injury within which to issue Proceedings seeking compensation for that injury. This was also the position in the Republic of Ireland until the enactment of the Civil liability & Courts Act 2004 (the “2004 Act”), which reduced the period for taking a claim (the “limitation period that applies in your particular case. This is a good reason for seeing a solicitor as soon as you think you may have a claim for compensation.</p> ">limitation period”) to 2 years.

    To complicate matters more, the 2004 Act was enacted shortly after the PIAB Act 2003, which recorded that all Claims for Personal Injury in the Republic of Ireland must first be submitted before the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB), now known as InjuriesBoard.ie . A Civil Claim can now only be issued before the Court where InjuriesBoard.ie issues an Authorization entitling the Claimant to proceed with a Civil Claim. In the normal course, once the Authorization issues a further 6 months is added to the limitation period, effectively giving the Claimant a further period of time within which to issue his claim. (for further information see the “Statute of Limitations” page on the Morgan McManus website at https://www.morganmcmanus.com/litigation/statute_of_limitations.html . This extended period can be vital particularly where further reports are necessary to assist the Claimant and his legal team in assessing whether he should proceed with a Claim and the appropriate Court (Circuit or High Court) within which Proceedings should be issued.

    There are however a number of exceptions to the rule that the limitation period is extended. One of these is Medical Negligence (see https://www.morganmcmanus.com/litigation/medical_negligence.html ) . Another is injury sustained while in Medical Care. It is this latter situation which can give rise to misunderstandings on the part of the Claimant as to the appropriate limitation period.

    In the case of Carroll v. Mater Misericordiae Hospital [2011] IEHC 231 (8 June 2011) –  – the plaintiff,  in or about the 30th May, 2005, whilst present as an in-patient in the Mater Hospital, whilst she was on medication consisting of a number of drugs, left her bed and unaccompanied went to the bathroom. Whilst entering the bathroom, she became dizzy, fainted and fell. As a result she suffered severe personal injury. Mr Justice Hedigan  pointed out that the PIAB Act does not apply to “a civil action not falling within any of the preceding paragraphs (other than one arising out of the provision of any health service to a person, the carrying out of a medical or surgical procedure in relation to a person or the provision of any medical advice or treatment to a person”. Because the plaintiff fell while she was being treated for her illness with certain medication and it was arising from this treatment that, when she went to the bathroom unaccompanied, she felt dizzy and fainted Mr Justice Hedigan stated that the plaintiff’s claim was one that arose from a mix of her nursing care and her medical treatment. As such he decided, it was an action which was covered by the exclusion provided in section 3(d) of the PIAB Act and consequently it is one to which the PIAB Act does not apply.

    Accordingly, he held that that the plaintiff`s claim was statute-barred because it was an action to which the above Act does not apply and consequently was one which was required to be brought within two years of the date of the accident, i.e. the 29th May, 2007. The personal Injuries summons was issued only on the 17th April, 2008.

    Had the plaintiff fallen as merely a visitor in the hospital or fallen as a patient but not due to the medication but due to some other act of negligence on the part of the hospital, her Claim would not have been statute-barred (that is, she would have had the extended 6 month period to her limitation period). The Court scrutinized very carefully the terms of the plaintiff`s Personal Injuries Summons and was satisfied that the plaintiff`s claims of negligence were are all claims of negligence arising from the provision of a health service and/or medical advice and treatment. Accordingly, the Court had no hesitation in dismissing the Claim.

    This case highlights the necessity of instructing a solicitor who is keenly aware of the complicated provisions of Personal Injuries legislation in the Republic of Ireland. It further highlights, as the writer has stated on many occasions, the necessity for a Claimant to instruct a solicitor where a Personal Injury Claim is contemplated (see https://www.morganmcmanus.com/pdfs/PersonalInjuryAccidentClaims2011.pdf )