By Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor
Personal Injury Court
This is an exceptionally common question that is asked of personal injury litigation solicitors by their clients. As one would expect, a professional and competent legal team, i.e. a solicitor together with perhaps both senior and junior counsel, will prepare every case to the highest standard and on the assumption that it will go to court. They will be ready for a full trial on the facts if necessary.
The reality, however, is that very few personal injury cases ever go to trial. The vast majority, perhaps more than 97% of such cases, are settled between the parties beforehand. In practice, personal injury cases will come before the court normally only when the parties have failed to agree on a suitable amount of compensation (where the victim/plaintiff and his or her lawyers feel that the amount of money that has been offered is not enough to fairly compensate for the personal injuries loss and damage that he or she has sustained). Moreover, it should be noted that very often judges will frown on personal injury litigation cases that come before the courts when only the quantum of damages is in dispute. It is very often the judge’s view that in such circumstances it should be possible for the parties to reach a settlement that reflects established principles without referring the matter to the courts that are already overworked.
Other circumstances where a personal injury claim may go to court include cases where no compensation has been offered to the plaintiff/victim at all, i.e. the defendants assert that they are not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. This situation may arise, for example, where there has been a disagreement over the facts or events of the incident itself.
Even when a court date has been set, a settlement can still be reached between the parties and it is in fact not unusual that a case could be settled on the very morning that the matter has been scheduled to go to trial.
What should also be noted is that, as the plaintiff, it is you who retains the authority to agree to a settlement of your claim. Your solicitor will only ever advise you on a settlement figure and has no authority to settle the case without your express permission to do so. Your solicitor will advise as to what, in their professional opinion, your case is worth and as to whether or not you should accept any offer of settlement that has been made. This is, of course, a very important decision as the compensation is paid by the defendants (with very few exceptions) in full and final settlement of all actions and claims arising from your accident. Even in the event, therefore, that your injuries deteriorate or later prove to be more serious than was believed at the time of settlement, you will retain no further claim or recourse against the defendant or his or her insurers.
- A personal injury court is used to settle disputes over liability and awards of compensation.
- Cases which are declined by the Injuries Board Ireland are heard in a personal injury court.
- In a personal injury court, you have to have legal representation through a solicitor.
- Although each case prepared by a solicitor is ready for the personal injury court, very few cases actually go to trial.
- Claims for personal injury compensation can often be settled by negotiation before being heard in a personal injury court.
- Therefore, it is in your best interests to speak with a solicitor to find out more about personal injury courts before making any claim for compensation.
It is important to note that each case is unique. If you feel that you have a potential personal injury claim you are advised to discuss all of the points raised in the preceding article with a solicitor at the earliest opportunity.
Copyright © 2009-2015 Eoin Campbell
About the Author
Eoin P. Campbell is an honours law graduate (LL.B) and qualified solicitor whose primary professional experience is in the area of litigation and in particular personal injury claims. Eoin P. Campbell is currently lecturing in law at two universities in Lyon, France.