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Do I need a Solicitor for PIAB? This is a question that solicitors are asked on a daily basis and the simple answer is YES

So what exactly is PIAB (Personal Injuries Assessment Board)? PIAB was set up under the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003’, it is a government body that was put in place to provide independent assessments of personal injury claims arising out of accidents at work, road traffic accidents and public liability accidents.

When PIAB began, the Board refused to deal with solicitors*, they claimed PIAB was a “lawyer free zone”. Both the High Court and eventually the Supreme Court put a stop to this stating “The right to legal representation is a ‘fundamental right’. It was further stated by the High Court “the right to legal representation and the lawyer/client relationship existed in the common good and helped to guarantee “equality of arms” in litigation and various types of adversarial processes, and helped maintain fairness between the weak and the strong”.

Why do I need a Solicitor for PIAB?

Since the introduction of PIAB in 2004, all personal injury claims must first proceed through the Board for assessment before court proceedings can be issued. The idea surrounding PIAB was that there should be no need for a claimant/injured party to use the services of a solicitor and that they should make the application directly. The advertising campaigns that the Injuries Board have engaged in advise that making the application to them is a simple and straightforward process and that it is a waste of time and money obtaining the services of a law firm. This is simply not true. Firstly it is important to note that PIAB provide you, as a claimant, with no guidance or legal advice.

At Synnott Lawline Solicitors our dedicated team deals with PIAB claims for all injury accidents on a daily basis and we have extensive experience in successfully claiming on your behalf. Our focus is on keeping things clear and simple for our clients so they don’t have to worry. Following an accident, focusing on your recovery should be your number one priority, this is why having a Personal Injury Solicitor deal with the claims process for you can help you to recover stress-free. Contact Synnott Lawline on Locall 1850 20 40 60 or info@lawline.ie for further information on making a PIAB application and the assessment process.

We recently had a client that had been involved in an accident at work. This client decided that they would deal with PIAB themselves and in doing so they technically named the wrong respondent (person/company responsible/ legal entity) on the Form A. By naming the wrong respondent the Statute of Limitations continued to run against the correct respondent. PIAB did not inform our client that they had in fact not named the correct legal entity, they allowed the application to proceed through to assessment and this assessment was inevitably rejected by the (wrongly named) respondent.

This client then came to us asking that we issue legal proceedings. Upon reviewing the paperwork provided we realised that the wrong respondent had been named and that the Statute of Limitations was due to expire in just a few days’ time. Luckily this client came to us on time and we managed to make a fresh application to PIAB before the Statute of Limitations expired. If the Statute of Limitations (2 years) had expired before a new application was made to PIAB, our client would not have been entitled to pursue their injury claim without the consent of the correct respondent.

It is also important to realise that the respondent (wrongdoer), whom you are bringing your claim against, is being represented by an insurance company/solicitors and you should therefore ensure to take all possible steps to make sure that your interests are protected.

If you have been involved in a road traffic accident it is necessary for you to obtain all of the details of the person responsible for the accident. This is not as easy as it sounds. Insurance companies are reluctant to give out this information. Instead they may make an immediate offer of settlement which does not reflect the true value of the claim. They may request that you be assessed by one of their own doctors. They may look to take up a copy of your medical records.

It can be difficult to know what information should and should not be provided to an insurance company. Personal Injury actions are complicated and they can also be very costly if something were to go wrong. If you decide to instruct a solicitor it is up to the solicitor instructed to obtain all of the relevant information and the insurance companies are always more forthcoming when dealing with a law firm.

It is also worth noting that difficulties may arise where the respondent does not hold a valid policy of insurance, if it was a hit and run accident or if you did not obtain the insurance details of the other driver. In these situations the support and expertise of a personal injury law firm is invaluable.

If you have been involved in a trip and fall accident in a public place it can be quite difficult to ascertain who was at fault. In a lot of trip and fall accidents there is more than one party at fault and all parties must be named in the PIAB application.

It is not unusual for the injured party to make an application naming the wrong respondent or only naming one of the respondents responsible for the accident. Unlike a solicitor, the Injuries Board does not carry out investigations to identify the correct respondent.

Most complications arise where there may be more than one respondent e.g. it could be the local county council, a management company, a building company that was recently working in the area, architects that designed the area in question etc. This is why a solicitor will instruct a consulting engineer to inspect the accident location before making an application to the Injuries Board, thus ensuring that the correct respondent(s) is named.

Naming the wrong respondent in an application to PIAB can cause lengthy delays in bringing your claim to a conclusion.

Before accepting an assessment made by the Injuries Board it is important to seek legal advice. In the majority of cases where the assessment of the Injuries Board is rejected, an experienced litigation solicitor should be able to obtain a higher settlement after initiating proceedings.

Under the legislation introducing PIAB each claimant is responsible for their own legal fees, however, in cases where the assessment of the Board is rejected and proceedings are issued the onus is on the Defendant (wrongdoer) to cover the majority of legal costs involved.

It is also of benefit to note that if you decide to settle directly with an insurance company or to accept the assessment of PIAB, without having first sought legal advice, settlements are usually full and final. It may not be possible to bring the case any further in the future should it transpire that the injury sustained is more serious than anticipated.

When you instruct solicitors to handle your personal injury claim they will ensure to take up all necessary and relevant medical reports in order to obtain a full diagnosis and prognosis for the future, before entering in to settlement negotiations on your behalf. It is vital that you are fully aware of what the future holds before finalising any personal injury claim.