The Injuries Board is set up to value claims and make assessments. They’re independent but the injured person is up against the other party which is usually a hugely experienced insurance company which knows the system inside out and will seek to take advantage to save money wherever possible.
An application to the injuries board is incredibly simple. All that needs to be done is three things.
- Send a warning letter to the person who caused the injury
- Get a medical report
- Fill in the standard injuries board form and send these items off with the application fee.
So why pay a Solicitor to do this?
The reason is that insurance companies, who act on behalf of the person who caused the injury in 98% of cases, are not on your side. The have little tricks to keep compensation low that injured people need to watch out for.
The first trick is to make an early low offer. These offers will usually be made in cases where judging from the circumstances of the accident (e.g. high speed car crashes) it’s likely that someone has been seriously injured. A small offer of €10,000 to €20,000 will be made by telephone within a week or so of the accident. The injured party might be waiting for an MRI or an appointment with a consultant and have no real idea of how badly they’re injured. But the injured person doesn’t want the hassle of a claim and just wants to focus on getting back to work, so they accept the money which seems like a windfall. Unfortunately, the money doesn’t last long when they can’t get back to work for 12 months.
A second trick is to make an offer as soon as the claim is lodged with the Injuries Board. The insurance company will review the medical report and make an offer significantly less than the injured person would receive from the Injuries Board. The insurance companies want to save money for their shareholders, not pay out the correct amount of compensation. So injured parties should almost never accept these offers and should wait for the Injuries Board to do their job and assess the claim. Both the Injuries Board and the injured party should also make sure that the Board has the relevant medical reports from appropriate experts. By all means start off a claim with a GP’s report. But make sure you have seen an orthopaedic consultant if you’re having back trouble. And make sure you tell the Injuries Board if you’re feeling depressed so that a psychiatrist’s report is obtained or if your knee flares up etc. If you don’t make the Board aware of these other injuries you won’t be compensated for them.
The third trick of the insurance companies is where cases come out of the Injuries Board without an assessment being made or accepted. The case will therefore go through the Courts process. But the insurance companies will now seek to use the information in the Form A against the injured person. Insurance companies delight in an opportunity to call a “claimant” a liar. They parse the Form A looking for inconsistencies. It doesn’t matter that you read the form and were being honest when said that you didn’t have any “relevant” injuries within the last 5 years. The insurance company will decide what’s relevant and woe betide you if you didn’t disclose that stubbed toe four years ago in your claim form for a broken finger. You risk being portrayed as a multiple claimant and a liar to boot. The Form A is an incredibly simple form, but there’s a couple of areas where the insurance companies can have some fun at the injured party’s expense. It’s also critical that careful consideration is given to the respondents’ names. If the wrongdoer doesn’t have insurance you better name the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland. If there was a problem with the road, you’d better name the local authority – there’s a few areas to be cautious and without a Solicitor nobody will be watching out for you.
Nonetheless, injured parties can and do navigate these speed bumps and might even stick through the low-ball offers and obtain the assessment from the Injuries Board. They’ve made it through and should have obtained a decent assessment of their injury. In most straightforward cases this is the end of the road. Yet this is the most important time to take legal advice. An injured person has no experience valuing a claim and has no idea whether the Injuries Board has assessed the claim accurately or not. They look at the Book of Quantum but overlook the ongoing cost of a cleaner for the person who can no longer do housework. It’s extremely rare for the Board to over value a claim. In cases where the assessment is not accurate, it’s virtually always undervalued. Getting advice on the value of a claim is a cheap and straightforward matter and it’s not too late to get independent advice from a professional.
Most Solicitors will assist claimants who have gone it alone and advise them on the value of their claim – they won’t hold it against you! It’s not what we recommend but at least you won’t make drastic mistakes if you have an independent valuation of your claim. It should only take an hour and would normally cost €250 plus VAT. Send in your medical reports by email and ring a Solicitor. They’re an invaluable resource.
So by now you should know that you should use a Solicitor to bring your Injuries Board claim. If you’re still not going to use one, then at least take advice on the value of your claim.
Should you have any queries relating to the above please do not hesitate to contact the writer Thomas Dowling by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 061 501100.