The case of Kevin Barry McClintock is a tragic one that highlights an instance of double standards on the part of the Injuries Board, the government body responsible for assessing personal injury claims in Ireland.
Mr McClintock was one of two people killed in road traffic accident in Donegal in 2015.
A year after his death his family were deeply upset when they received a claim notification from the Injuries Board.
Now the fact of the notification itself, while clearly distressing, may have been an unfortunate necessity. If a third party was alleging Mr McClintock had some liability for injuries suffered by them, it would have been necessary for them to make a claim to the Injuries Board, and the Injuries Board would have had to notify Mr McClintock’s estate (in this case his next of kin) of the claim.
However, the interesting aspect of the case from the point of view of a solicitor specialising in representing accident victims in personal injury claims before the Injuries Board is the Board’s response to a query raised by journalists in relation to this case.
The incident was reported in the Derry Journal who contacted the Injuries Board for comment and who said:
“If the family of a person who was fatally injured do not wish to receive any further letter from us, their representative (normally a solicitor) may request us only to communicate with the representative/their insurance company. We will, of course, follow their wishes in that case.”
And on its face that seems perfectly reasonable.
However, in the vast majority of personal injuries claims, where the injured party is still alive, the Injuries Board will not comply with a request by a claimant to communicate only with their solicitor.
If someone who has suffered a personal injury instructs a solicitor to deal with their claim before the Injuries Board and wants all correspondence in relation to the matter to be sent only to the solicitor, the Injuries Board will not comply with such a request and will always insist on corresponding with both the claimant and the solicitor.
For the most part, this does not create any difficulty, as any responsible solicitor will ensure that their client is fully informed of all correspondence sent or received on their behalf. However, sometimes people engage a solicitor precisely for the very good reason that they do not want to deal with such correspondence directly and they want the solicitor to do that for them.
In such cases, the Injuries Board will not comply with their wishes to correspond only with their solicitor.
It is absolutely right and proper that the Injuries Board respect the wishes of families of those who have been fatally injured to correspond only with their solicitors.
It would just be nice if the Injuries Board were to show similar respect for the wishes of all accident victims.
The article in the Derry Journal referred to above is here.