Introduction to Out of Court Settlements for Personal Injuries
Out of court settlements for personal injuries can be obtained when a settlement is agreed upon between the parties involved in a personal injury compensation claim. Since 2004, all personal injury claims in Ireland (excluding cases that involve medical negligence) must be submitted to the Injuries Board, who assess the plaintiff’s (injured party) case – with the respondent’s (negligent party) permission – and assigns a financial value. When this value is accepted by all parties involved, the case is settled out of court.
It is also possible to achieve an out of court settlement if negotiations that the plaintiff’s solicitor may hold with the negligent party’s legal representatives are successful and a settlement can be agreed on in that way.
It is important to realise that more than 80 per cent of personal injury compensation cases do not go to court as they are satisfactorily settled first, usually when the negligent party offers the plaintiff compensation which is duly accepted.
The Injuries Board’s Role
In order to attempt to obtain out of court settlements for personal injuries through the Injuries Board, the plaintiff must first submit their claim – preferably within two months of the accident in which they sustained their injuries – along with a medical report from the medical practitioner who treated, and is potentially still treating their injuries, and proof of special damages – out of pocket expenses such as the re-structuring of a house to accommodate a wheelchair, for example.
The Injuries Board would then contact the respondent with a request for their permission for an assessment of value to be carried out. If the respondent agrees, the assessment goes ahead. If the respondent refuses, the plaintiff’s file is closed and they would be issued with an “Authorisation”, which is a document needed to take a personal injuries case to court.
However, should the respondent say yes to the assessment, the Injuries Board will then make an assessment of the value of the plaintiff’s claim which would be sent to both sides when completed. The Injuries Board will offer an “order to pay” if both sides accept it. If one, the other or both sides rejects the assessment, the Injuries Board will close the plaintiff’s file and they will be issued with an Authorisation.
Engaging with a Solicitor
Although submitting an application to the Injuries Board can be done independently, more than 90 per cent of potential plaintiffs engage a solicitor to assist with the often complicated process and in the hopes of out of court settlements for personal injuries. Additionally, comfort can be sought from having someone “on their side” to help them obtain the maximum compensation award they are entitled to.
Most solicitors offer an initial consultation without charge where they can assess their potential client’s claim. If it is deemed viable, the solicitor will need to know all of the facts surrounding the accident, details of all of the injuries that the plaintiff sustained and all of the financial costs that the plaintiff has incurred that can be directly attributed to the accident and subsequent injuries.
The victim would have to describe their injuries and any medical treatment they have received and his or her solicitor would want to know about every injury the plaintiff suffered and all of the symptoms, whether they were physical or emotional.
The victim’s solicitor would also be able to gather evidence required in order to ensure a successful case such as witness statements, accident reports and perhaps even CCTV footage and any costs incurred associated with the accident and/or injuries, such as medical costs or loss of income will need to be calculated.
Out of Court Settlements for Personal Injuries: Conclusion
It is possible to achieve out of court settlements for personal injuries when the application for assessment to the Injuries Board is correctly compiled with the assistance of an experienced solicitor. When all aspects of a plaintiff’s case are properly accounted for the possibility of an appropriate value being assessed is increased.
Even if it is the case that the amount suggested by the Injuries Board is unsuitable or if the respondent rejects it, there is still the possibility of reaching a satisfactory settlement via negotiation. The plaintiff’s solicitor would know all of the facts of the plaintiff’s case and would be in a good position to accurately recommend a settlement that is acceptable to all parties.
If it is the case that a trial date is set, it should be remembered that often a settlement between all parties is reached before that date or sometimes even on the day of the trial.
If you have been involved in an accident that was due to another party’s negligence in which you sustained injuries and believe that you have a potential personal injury compensation claim, you would be well advised to seek the assistance of a solicitor as soon as practically possible.