Types of Serious Injury Claims
We have provided some general information below to assist individuals and families affected by a serious injury. However, you may find it useful to navigate directly to the specific type of injury you or your family member has sustained. You can use the following links to do this.
With many injuries arising from accidents, any claim for compensation will be centred around general damages for pain and suffering as a result of the injury itself, together with special damages for any costs of medical treatment and other out-of-pocket expenses incurred directly as a result of the injury.
However, where the compensation figures tend to become more substantial is where someone has been rendered incapable of working because of their injuries, either for a specific period or for the rest of their lives. In such cases a report from a vocational rehabilitation expert will be required to determine whether there are any other alternative forms of employment that the victim can be retrained in, having regard to their injuries so as to “mitigate their loss” (i.e. to reduce the amount of the wages being lost as a result of the injury).
If the injuries are sufficiently serious, there’s every possibility that the injured person will never return to work again and, depending on how young or old they are, the figure required to compensate for their ability to work can become very significant. For example, if someone would ordinarily be expected to be able to continue to work for another 20 years, even if they’re earning the minimum wage those figures multiply up for the remaining 20 odd years of their anticipated working life. The other things that you would have to allow for in serious injury claims cases would be occupational therapy, changes to housing and accommodation, and changes to transportation, adapted vehicles etc. and nursing care costs as a person gets older.
Reports From Experts Determine Compensation Awards
Reports will be needed from all of these experts to identify what needs to be done and what the expected cost of that is likely to be. An expert actuarial report will then be required to bring all of these figures together in a capital sum by way of compensation. Added together these sums can become substantial as a result and, the younger the injured person is, the larger they are likely to be in light of the fact that the sums will need to provide for costs to be incurred over much longer periods of time.
As a result, you will generally find with serious injuries that the amount of the general damages awarded for pain and suffering for the injuries themselves may well be dwarfed by the special damages to allow for future care needs. Large awards of this nature in personal injury and medical negligence litigation can seem like huge windfalls, when in fact they are just providing for the basic care needs of the injured person for the remainder of their life just so that they may continue to have some quality of life. Take a look at the Judicial Council’s Personal Injuries guidelines for further information on compensation awards.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Some of the questions we are often asked in relation to serious injuries.
What is considered a life-changing serious injury?
A serious or catastrophic injury is a personal injury that results in permanent disability and requires lifelong care and assistance to the injured party. Severe injuries affecting the brain, spine, spinal cord or limbs can cause ongoing medical problems, significantly reduced quality of life, and life expectancy. Serious and catastrophic injuries can be caused by many different scenarios including faulty workplace machinery, car or transport accidents, falls from height, strokes, birth injuries, negligent medical care, accidents in the home or assaults.
Is a solicitor required to bring a serious injury compensation claim?
With serious injury cases, it is essential to seek representation by an experienced personal injury solicitor who can provide guidance on securing the compensation and interim award payments that you are eligible for.
When bringing a serious injury claim, factors such as the cost of treatment, cost of future care (including care staff and occupational therapists), the cost of home alterations, the psychological impact of the trauma, as well as loss of earnings, must be considered in the claims process.
An expert solicitor with many years of experience in bringing these types of cases will be able to guide you towards securing the best outcome possible for you and your family.
How can a catastrophic injury claim be quantified?
Historically, the Court in Ireland has found it difficult to implement a fair and reasonable scheme for compensating serious injury claims cases, as no amount of money will ever truly compensate for life-changing injuries. However, with all serious and catastrophic injury claims, the compensation is split into general and special damages.
What are general damages?
General damages are awarded to compensate for the direct physical and psychological effects of the injury, where the claimant’s injuries can be attributed to the actions and behaviour of the defendant. The maximum award for general damages in a catastrophic or serious injury case is €550,000.00. The Court considers factors such as age, life expectancy, the extent of residual movement, pain, the effect of the injury on the senses, psychological impact, and effect on familial relationships, when considering the general damages to be awarded.
What are special damages?
Special damages are awarded to compensate for actual out-of-pocket expenses and financial costs that the party bringing the claim has incurred because of the actions or behaviour of the defendant. There is no cap on the amount the Court can award for special damages. As such, Courts may award millions for serious and catastrophic injury claims. There are two main types of special damages in catastrophic injury claims: future care costs, and current and future loss of earnings. These can be very difficult to quantify and give rise to injustices for all parties.
What are interim or periodic payments?
As there is so much potential for injustice in special damages awards and because the Courts have difficulty in finding the appropriate compensation in these cases, interim or periodic payments are commonly ordered. Periodic Payment Orders (PPOs) cover the costs of future medical treatment, care and assistive technology required by the injured party, as well as future loss of earnings. A central aspect of the PPO is the regular and continued nature of payments. PPOs are granted alongside an initial lump sum payment, accounting for general damages and certain future special damage expenses.
About McCarthy + Co
With more than 30 years of experience in dealing with serious injury claims, McCarthy + Co. has expertise in a wide variety of fields including serious and catastrophic injury cases. We are a family-run business, and we pride ourselves on offering honest, impartial, and helpful advice.
Our offices are based in Dublin and Cork but we work with clients throughout Ireland in locations ranging from Galway to Waterford. You can count on us for legal advice, guidance, and assistance regarding any form of serious injury.
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Flor McCarthy wears multiple hats, not only as the managing partner of one of Ireland’s leading law firms, but also as an author, speaker and an acknowledged expert in client service, innovation and marketing.
Beginning his academic journey at UCC, Flor furthered his education with a master’s degree in law from UCD. After gaining valuable experience as a solicitor in Dublin, the allure of home and the family brought him back to West Cork to contribute his expertise to the family business.
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John McCarthy is a seasoned solicitor with almost 20 years of experience, specialises in personal injury and medical negligence claims, focusing particularly on high-value compensation cases. His extensive litigation experience spans Circuit Court, High Court and Supreme Court levels.
John's practice involves a diverse range of cases, from personal injury and wrongful death to property damage, defective products, professional negligence and judicial reviews.