Beware of pre-application settlement offers
Before addressing the issue of how to prepare your Injuries Board application it is important to point out that you may very well be approached by one or more of the parties against whom you are claiming, or their insurers, making an offer of settlement to you on the basis that the amount of money on offer must be accepted before you submit your claim * to the Injuries Board.
There’s absolutely nothing unlawful in this behaviour by insurance companies but you should think long and hard before deciding on whether to accept any offer at such an early juncture: an independent report commissioned by the Central Bank in 2010 which analysed 418 third party personal injury claims * processed by eleven insurance firms during the period from April to June in that year found that claimants who chose to decline these early offers and to refer their claim to the Injuries Board received a higher assessment amount than the sum being offered by the insurance companies.
This just goes to show that the only reason that the insurance companies make these offers early on is in the hope that they can buy off claims * quickly and cheaply, either because the injured person is inexperienced and doesn’t know that what they’re being offered is under the odds or because they’re under financial strain and feel pressurised to accept the sum on offer even if they know that they might get more if they held out longer.
Submitting Your Claim to the Injuries Board *
Provided you’ve taken all the preliminary steps to ensure that you’ve preserved any relevant evidence and you’ve sent your letters of claim, and assuming of course that you are within the applicable limitation period, the process of making your application to the Injuries Board is actually quite straightforward. There are some common pitfalls which we’ll consider later, but essentially you need to submit the following documents to the Injuries Board:
- A completed application form in the Injuries Board’s Form A.
- A medical report from your GP or consultant in the Injuries Board’s Form B.
- Copies of the letters of claim that you’ve sent to each of the individuals whom you believe to be at fault.
- Payment of the Injuries Board application fee (€45 at the time of writing).
If you believe that your claim could be about to become statute barred don’t wait around until you’ve got all of this documentation in your possession. In urgent circumstances you should send a completed Form A and the application fee to the Injuries Board as quickly as possible (with email and credit/debit card payment probably being the speediest means) and include a covering note explaining that you are concerned that your claim may be about to run out of time and that you will submit the outstanding documentation as soon as you have it. Follow this up with a telephone call (or several of them if needs be) until you have received written confirmation from the Injuries Board that your application is complete for the purposes of section 50 of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.