The Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act, 2003 introduced a new method when making *personal injury claims. The 2003 Act introduced the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, which came into operation in June 2004 (now known as the Injuries Board). It was hoped that it would transform and substantially reduce the amount of claims being brought to the courts and also to reduce the length of time taken to receive compensation.
Almost all injuries claims must now be made to the Injuries Board. The main exception to this is *Medical Negligence claims which cannot be dealt with by the Injuries Board.
It is strongly advised that a letter is sent to the respondents (preferably before the expiration of 2 months) advising him/her of the nature of your claim and the alleged wrongdoing. This letter is known as a s(8) letter and although it has not been specifically addressed in the courts as yet, section 8 does indicate that the courts are entitled to draw inferences from your failure to give the respondent an opportunity to address the matter before going to the injuries board. It may be necessary at this point depending on the nature of your claim to request that all evidence in relation to your injuries be preserved. In the very likely event that the matter is not dealt with at this stage then the next step is to make your claim to the Injuries Board.
All claimants must fill out the relevant application form (Form A), accompany it with a Medical Report, a copy of the s(8) letter and a cheque in the sum of €50. It is also important to include any receipts for medical expenses that you intend to claim back.
The most important part of any claim for a *personal injury is to ensure that your claim is brought within two years of the date of the accident, again there are a few exceptions to this rule but by and large, two years is the cut off point for making *personal injury claims. This is known as the Statute of Limitations.
Once the Injuries Board receives your claim, they will immediately acknowledge in writing to you. This acknowledgment is extremely important as it serves to stop time running against you.
The Injuries Board then serve a notice of your claim to the respondent. The respondent is entitled to reject the board assessing your claim in which case what is known as an ‘authorisation’ is issued. Alternatively the respondent can allow the board to make an assessment on your claim. If the respondent agrees to the board making an assessment, the Board then suggest an amount of compensation to you and also to the respondent. At this stage either party are entitled to accept or reject the amount of compensation. Again if either party reject the amount awarded, then an ‘authorisation’ will issue to the claimant.
It is worth noting that the Board must make their assessment within 9 months of receiving the respondents’ consent to assessment. The respondent is given 21 days to accept or reject the amount and you are given 28 days to accept or reject the amount of compensation. You can see a good guide to the likely level of compensation the Board will offer by visiting their website (www.injuriesboard.ie) and examining their Book of Quantum. Should either you or the respondent fail to respond to the Board, then the assessment is considered to be rejected and again an ‘authorisation’ issues.
Should both parties accept the amount of compensation being awarded then an order to pay is sent to the respondent and he or she must pay within a reasonable time. The effect of this order is similar to a court order and action can be taken to the court should the respondent fail to pay the amount in full.
Should either or both parties reject the claim or indeed the amount of compensation then an ‘authorisation’ will issue. An authorisation allows you to take the matter to court and have a judge decide on whether or not the respondent is liable and if so liable the courts will also decide on the amount of compensation to be awarded.
* In contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any settlement.