Do I need a solicitor to make a claim to the Injuries Board?

Absolutely not. In fact, the Injuries Board was established with the specific aim of removing solicitors from the process of assessing compensation.

The truth of the matter is that the Injuries Board doesn’t like it when claimants are represented by solicitors, so if you decide not to seek legal representation to assist you in claiming, far from being in any way hostile to your decision to go it alone, the Injuries Board will welcome you with open arms.

Why then should you spend money which you won’t recover from the other side to pay for a solicitor when you’re not forced to have one? Well, if yours is a case which is straightforward, where the appropriate parties to pursue are obvious, and where the nature of your injuries is such that it is relatively straightforward to determine what would be deemed to be a fair amount in compensation, then, to be brutally honest, it is hard to see how involving a solicitor will result in you coming out of the process receiving more compensation than would have been the case had you represented yourself.

The problem is that there are many situations in which the Injuries Board process favours the respondent (which is nearly always an insurance company) and where the lack of legal know-how of a lay claimant can result in serious injustice occurring.
The other obvious problem is that, even if you manage to sidestep any problems and get to a point where the Injuries Board has made an assessment, you will then be faced with the stark question: should I accept what’s on offer? Unless you’re an extremely unusual (and very unlucky!) person, you will have no more than one of these kinds of claims in your lifetime, meaning that, unlike any solicitor who specialises in this area, you will have no experience whatsoever to enable you to decide whether what’s on offer is fair and reasonable compensation or whether you are likely to fare better if you push on with court proceedings.

This difficulty is compounded by the fact that you only have a ludicrously short twenty-eight-day period within which to decide whether or not to accept the assessment, meaning that if you want to get a professional opinion at that stage you may find it difficult or impossible to get a solicitor to come on board at such short notice to assess all of the facts and to provide an opinion.

You could, of course, operate on the basis that the Injuries Board is an objective and impartial State entity that will arrive at the assessment you deserve in the interests of fairness and the common good. While this is a perfectly intuitive way to think, we’ll consider whether the facts agree with the theory in later posts.

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