According to PIAB, since its introduction, it has managed to significantly reduce the amount of time it takes for a personal injury claim. It has been reduced from approximately three years to 7–9 months, in many cases. To do this, the Injuries Board established a group of assessors whose function is to make fair and transparent injury assessments under the PIAB Act 2003.
Most recent figures from the 2017 PIAB Annual Report tell us that there were:
- 33,114 applications
- 12,663 awards
- Average settlement was €24,879
- Highest settlement was €605,095
How can I make an Injuries Board Application?
When making an Injuries Board application, although it can be completed without the need for a solicitor, a solicitor will know best how to complete the injuries board application. There are some legal areas that can be difficult to navigate without a personal injury solicitor on hand to assist you through the Injuries Board process. It ensures that your claim runs smoothly and as quick as possible without any setbacks during the application process.
1. Speak with a Solicitor
Speaking with a personal injury solicitor can help you if you are unsure about how to start. A specialised personal injury solicitor could provide you with the information that is needed to submit the Injuries Board application. Your solicitor will then prepare your file and gather all information needed into one place before applying to you.
You will need to have the following information to provide to your solicitor:
- Accident details
- Details of the injury – give them any evidence of the injury (photos)
- Details of any previous injuries/conditions/accidents
- List of expenses incurred as a result of the accident, medical bills, etc.
- Description of the person at fault
It is critically important that you have identified the correct person at fault when you are making your application. If you have identified a person or persons to be at fault for your injuries and upon assessment the Injuries Board don’t agree the accused person can apply for an order of costs to be issued. This means that you will be obliged to pay that person’s legal fees.
In summary, certain aspects of the Injuries Board Application can be complex. The Law Society of Ireland recommends that people who are making a personal injury claim use a solicitor in their dealings with the Injuries Board. ‘Legal representation is necessary to guarantee the rights of victims of accidents against the interests of big business and the insurance industry.’
Remember the Injuries Board cannot assist you in completing the form and you cannot go back a second time if you get it wrong.
If you have been the victim of an accident – a second opinion is always a good idea.
2. Medical Reports
The next piece of vital information needed is a medical report to confirm your injuries. Your solicitor can request the medical report from the medical practitioner that treated your injuries. As the solicitor will not have the details of your injury, a prognosis from the doctor, estimated time for recovery and also details of necessary treatment is needed for your case.
In some cases, a traumatic accident may result in the patient seeking psychological treatment – in this case; your solicitor will also request a report from the psychologist that treated you.
3. Form A
At this stage, your solicitor has all the information they need to start the assessment process and will do so by completing and filing the Form A with the Injuries Board which can be submitted online or via post. With the Form A, your solicitor will send copies of any medical reports and details of any expenses incurred.
The Injuries Board will then acknowledge receipt of the application. The Board will issue a reference number for your application. They will then notify the person/company of your personal injury claim against them. They will also send a copy of your application form and medical report to the person/company at fault when notifying them of your claim
4. Assessment of your claim
The Injuries Board will then assess the details of your claim and conclude. If they have concluded in your favour, they can then suggest a compensation amount to be paid to you by the person/company at fault. Injuries Board offers cannot be negotiated, you either accept or reject them and whether you both agree to the suggested compensation amount will determine the next steps in your injury claim. It is important to note that you only have 28 days to decide if you will accept or reject this amount.
A. Order to Pay
If you and the person at fault for your accident agree to the suggested compensation amount, the Injuries Board will issue an ‘Order to Pay’ which orders the person at fault to pay the compensation to you
B. Authorisation to Move to Court Proceedings
If you, or the person at fault, do not agree with the Injuries Board suggested compensation amount then you will be issued with an Authorisation move the claim forward and issue legal proceedings to resolve the matter.
PIAB Time Limits
Once the Injuries Board receives your application, they have a period of nine months in which to assess your claim. If they cannot assess your claim in the initial nine-month period, they will notify you and the person at fault to request an extension on this time to review and assess your case.
In a situation where there is no agreement on the Injuries Board assessment of your case and an Authorisation for you to move to Court proceedings has been issued, you have 6 months from the date of issuance to issue legal proceedings and bring the personal injury claim to court.
How Long Do I Have to Make My Claim?
There is a two-year time limit in which you have the opportunity to make a personal injury claim. The two-year period starts from the time the accident had occurred. For example, in a road traffic accident, it is the date the accident occurred. If you do not start the claims process in the specific period, then your claim will no longer be enforceable.
However, in some instances, a person may not know that they have been injured and, in these situations, the two-year time limit starts from when the person becomes aware of their personal injury.
What types of accidents do the Personal Injuries Assessment Board assess?
Personal injury claims are assessed by the Injuries Board. They will assess claims in the following categories:
Road Traffic Accidents*
Road traffic accidents can include anything from car accidents, truck accidents, bus accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents or even car accidents involving pedestrians, for example.
Accidents at Work*
Accidents in the workplace include incidents such as a slip trip and fall at work, manual handling injuries, repetitive strain injuries, injuries sustained from a hazardous environment, for example.
Accidents in a Public Place*
Accidents in a public place are also referred to as Public Liability Claims and can include incidents such as a slip, trip or fall in a public place such as a supermarket, somebody else’s property, shopping centre accidents, public park accidents, trip and fall on a pavement, footpath or kerb.
Recent figures have shown that of the 12,663 awards given in 2017 the breakdown by category was as follows:
- 72% Motor Liability – Road Traffic Accidents
- 10% Employers Liability – Accidents at Work
- 18% Public Liability – Accidents in a Public Place
What types of accidents or injuries are not assessed?
While the Injuries Board does assess most personal injury claims, there are exceptions to that rule. The exceptions are:
- Medical Negligence Claims
- Assault Claims
- Cases, where the injuries sustained, are wholly psychological
- They may decline claims where there are complexities arising from pre-existing medical conditions.
Speaking with a solicitor is your first port of call should you be pursuing a personal injury claim as a result of the above cases.
Book of Quantum – What is involved in an Assessment?
Assess whether the compensation amount suggested by the Injuries Board is adequate for the injuries losses you may have sustained; they often refer to a ‘compensation guide’ that they call ‘Book of Quantum’. The PIAB Book of Quantum is a guide compiled to assist the Injuries Board assessors in the assessment of your injury claim.
The Book of Quantum contains general guidelines as to the amounts that may be awarded or assessed in Personal Injury Claims. It provides estimated figures of what average compensation amounts for different injuries in different parts of the body. The compensation figures suggested in the Book of Quantum are based on the actual settlement amounts of over 51,000 personal injury court cases and insurance company settlements of different types.
When assessing a personal injury claim, the Injuries Board may refer to the Book of Quantum to assess your claim under the following topics:
- Compensation for pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of earnings and additional expenses incurred, such as medical expenses
- Future cost of medical care
- Future loss of earnings
The Book of Quantum can be used to reach a compensation figure by following these steps:
1. Identify the Category of the Injury
Assessment starts by specifying the part of the body that has suffered the most severe injury. Other more minor injuries will then be taken into account. The Book of Quantum is separated into six different categories:
- Back and Spinal
- Upper Limbs
- Lower Limbs
- Body and Internal Organs
2. Understand the Severity of the Injury
The severity of the injury will be categorised into the following ranges. These ranges reflect the effect the injury has had on a person’s quality of life, pain and suffering and permanency of the injury and after effects of the injury and play a key factor of compensation suggested by the Injuries Board:
- Moderately Severe
- Severe and Permanent
3. Look up the Value Range of Past Similar Injury Settlements
The majority of cases will fall into the above categories. You must remember that there is not a maximum and not a minimum amount of compensation to be awarded for each injury type.
4. Consider the Effects of Multiple Injuries
In addition to the most severe injury, taking into account other injuries sustained is also important in the assessment of a case. With regards to the Book of Quantum, it is important to note that adding the average compensation amounts for each injury is not how the assessment works. The most severe injury is assessed and then most likely an adjustment is made to that compensation amount to take into other injuries sustained.
Note: The Injuries Board provides guidance with regard to compensation for losses incurred and pain and suffering. They do not provide specific guidance on personal injury claims. This is why it is important to have a personal injury solicitor on hand to help with the process.
What is Taken into Account in the Assessment?
In calculating a suggested compensation amount, as well as compensation for the injury sustained, the Injuries Board should take the following aspects into consideration also. The following contribute to your compensation amount and are referred to as ‘Special Damages’:
- Loss of wages, if absent from work due to injury – this should also include future loss of earnings
- Medical expenses
- Out of pocket expenses
Application for Accidents Involving Children
For accidents involving children, the Injuries Board Application process is essentially the same, the difference being that because the person is under 18 years of age, they need a representative to bring the claim forward for them. This representative is called a ‘Next Friend.’ In cases where a Next Friend is leading the personal injury claim for the minor and a settlement is reached, the settlement must be approved by a Court before it can be issued. The settlement amount is then held and is released to the child when they turn 18 years of age. Although in some cases, parts of the settlement money may be paid out to the child’s parent/guardian if they are deemed to be for the child’s well-being, for example, health care for the child.
The alternative to this is for the child to wait until they turn 18 and bring the claim forward themselves. In this case, a person has two years from the day they turn 18 to make the personal injury claim.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
Remember that insurance companies are permitted to make offers to settle a case before the assessment process begins. While you can negotiate with an Insurance company, you cannot negotiate with the Injuries Board. You can either deal directly with an insurance company yourself or in some cases your solicitor can do this for you.