In Ireland, to bring a personal injury claim you need to make an application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). In most situations, your claim will be assessed by the board and an agreement will be reached without the case having to go to court. However, there are instances where some personal injury claims must go to the high court for a resolution.
Here we have answered some of the most common questions we are asked on this topic.
How likely is it that my personal injury claim will go to court?
The likelihood of a personal injury claim going to court depends on the circumstances surrounding the claim. Key reasons claims can sometimes go to court is if the respondent (the person you hold responsible for your injury) does not want PIAB to assess your claim, does not agree with the compensation amount, or fails to pay the agreed amount of compensation. It may also have to go to court if you (the claimant) do not agree with the amount of compensation offered. However, most personal injury claims are resolved outside of court through negotiation or mediation.
Why are most compensation claims settled out of court?
Most compensation claims are settled out of court because the PIAB assessment process is usually fair and agreeable to both parties (the claimant and the respondent). Additionally, settling a claim outside of court allows the parties involved to have more control over the outcome of the case. When a case goes to trial, a judge will be appointed to make a final decision, which cannot usually be overturned.
What are the most common reasons for a personal injury claim going to court?
To elaborate on the information above, the most common reasons for claims going to court include the following:
- Liability is contested – If the respondent disputes liability, the case may need to go to court to determine who is at fault.
- Settlement negotiations fail – If the insurance company is unwilling to offer a reasonable settlement, it may be necessary for the case to go to court.
- Damages are in dispute – If the parties involved cannot agree on the amount of damages owed, the case may need to go to court for a judge to decide.
- Statute of limitations – If the statute of limitations is about to expire, the claimant may need to file a lawsuit to preserve their right to compensation.
What happens if my claim must go to court?
If your claim must go to court, your solicitor will need to employ a barrister for you who will prepare all the necessary documents. The first document they will prepare and issue is a Summons. Once served, the respondent will put in a document called an Appearance, with questions about the case referred to as Particulars. Your solicitor will then go through these questions and assist you in preparing your replies. After submitting these replies, the other side will then put in a final document called a Defence. Your case will then be queued for a court hearing. During this time, it is possible that your case may be settled in a meeting involving yourself, your solicitor, your barrister, and the other side. If no agreement can be reached, your solicitor will arrange for you, your barrister, your witnesses, specialists, and others to attend court.
Will I have to attend court in person?
If all negotiations and mediations fail then, yes, it is possible you may need to attend court. However, this is very rare and usually your solicitor will be able to navigate a fair settlement for you without this eventuality.
Will hiring a solicitor help me avoid going to court?
Whilst you don’t necessarily need to consult with a solicitor to bring a personal injury claim, it is highly advisable to do so in certain scenarios, particularly if there are any disputes in relation to liability or compensation amounts. An experienced personal injury solicitor will be able to help you to navigate towards a fair settlement without the need for your case to go to court.
Securing a settlement out of court
In conclusion, personal injury claims can be resolved through negotiation or mediation, but there are various scenarios where a claim may have to go to the high court for a resolution. The likelihood of a claim going to court depends on the circumstances surrounding the case, with common reasons including contested liability, failed settlement negotiations, disputed damages, and the expiration of the statute of limitations.
It is important for claimants to have legal representation if their case goes to court. An experienced personal injury solicitor can help navigate the legal process, present a strong case, and help you to achieve a fair settlement.