Since the introduction of the Injuries Board in 2004, all personal injury claims must first proceed through the Board for assessment before court proceedings can be issued. The idea surrounding the Injuries Board 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.

When an injury has been sustained as a result of someone else’s negligence it can be extremely difficult for the injured person to obtain all of the relevant information required before making a claim to the Injuries Board.

Examples of complications:

These are just two of the most common problems that claimants come across when dealing with the Injuries Board, without the benefit of legal advice.

Where a person involved in a road traffic accident it is necessary for them 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 the person be assessed by one of their own doctors. They may look to take up copy 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 a solicitor is instructed by the injured party it is up to the solicitor instructed to obtain all of the relevant information and the insurance company is always more forthcoming when dealing with a law firm.

Where a person is involved in a trip and fall accident in a public place it can be difficult to ascertain who was at fault. 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 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 is named.

Naming the wrong respondent can cause lengthy delays in bringing a claim to a conclusion. There is also the issue of running out of time to bring a claim against the correct respondent. Under the Statute of Limitations a person injured by the negligence of another only has two years within which to bring a claim for compensation after which time their claim becomes Statute Barred and they are no longer entitled to claim compensation for the injuries sustained.

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 in many cases.

Under the legislation introducing the Injuries Board (previously known as the Personal Injuries Assessment Board) 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 a claimant decides to settle directly with an insurance company or to accept the assessment of the Injuries Board, without having first sought legal advice, all settlements are full and final. It is not possible to look for further compensation in the future should it transpire that the injury sustained is more serious than anticipated.

 You may also be interested in…

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The Injuries Board – Step by Step >

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