Personal Injury Litigation – 5 Points To Note Before Making A Claim
Starting a personal injuries claim can be daunting. Here are a number of things you should bear in mind to help you along the way.
1. Time limits
Personal injuries claims are subject to time limits and if an injured party does not bring their claim within these time limits, they can become ‘statute barred’. Although an injured party is not technically prohibited from bringing a claim after these time limits have been reached, it does mean that a court might be prohibited from making an award for damages.
Generally speaking, a personal injury claim must be made within 2 years from the date of knowledge of their injury.
Date of knowledge – The ‘date of knowledge’ refers to the date on which the injured person gained knowledge of all of the following:
a) That they sustained an injured;
b) That the injury they sustained was significant;
c) That the injury they sustained was caused by the negligence of another party; and
d) That the identity of the party that caused the injury at fault is known.
Although this date is usually be the date of the accident, this is not always the case. There are many examples of injuries not manifesting for many months or years after an accident. In such cases, the ‘date of knowledge’ is the date that the injured person became aware that they were injured.
There are 2 exceptions to the general time limits. These apply if the injured party is:
1. A minor under the age of 18. For minors, the clock does not start ticking until they reach the age of 18. Children can therefore make a personal injury claim at any time up to their 20th birthday for accidents that occurred before they were 18. Until the child reaches the age of 18, a competent adult can take a claim on their behalf if they so wish.
2. Those of unsound mind. For those who are of unsound mind (such as a mental disability), the clock does not start ticking until such time as they are no longer of unsound mind.
2. Record important details
For a claim to have the best chance of success, a solicitor needs to have at their disposal as many details as possible. Since memories tends to fade with time, it is important to record and keep the details of an accident as soon as possible after it has occurred. Such details might include:
a) Details of the accident that caused your injury.
b) Details of where the injury occurred (addresses, company details etc.)
c) Details of the injury.
d) Details of any previous injuries/claims.
e) Details of any expenses you have incurred (e.g. medical bills).
f) Details of any witnesses or CCTV or dashcam footage, if available.
g) Registration numbers of any vehicles involved
h) Details of the person at fault.
i) Details of measurements and photographs are particularly important.
3. Personal Injury Fees
An important point to bear in mind is the cost associated with taking a personal injuries claim. In this respect, it is important to remember that the person taking the personal injuries claim will always be responsible for their own legal fees – and in the event that their claim is unsuccessful may even be responsible for the legal fees of the other side.
Thankfully, the majority of solicitors work on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. This means that the solicitor will not charge the injured party a professional fee if their case is unsuccessful.
Another point to bear in mind in respect of costs is the fact that our legal system works on the general principle of ‘costs follow the event’. This means that the losing side in any litigation will, in most instances, have to pay the legal costs including all expenses and outlay of the winning side. This means that if the person taking the personal injuries case wins, most of their legal fees and outlays may be paid for by the other side.
4. The length of the Personal Injury process
Personal injuries claims can drag on for many years. It’s a sad reality but it’s important for those taking a claim to be prepared for this prospect. As all cases are different, it is impossible to gauge how long an personal injuries claim will take from start to finish; however, one can outline approximate time-scales for the following stages:
a) Medical Report – most personal injuries claims need at least one medical report. Depending on the type of medical report required and expertise involved, this step could take anywhere from a number of days to months to obtain.
b) PIAB – all personal injuries claims must initially go through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. On average, claims made to the PIAB are assessed within 7 months from the date that the respondent consents to have the claim assessed by the PIAB.
c) Court Proceedings – If the matter does not settle or is not assessed by the PIAB, the next stage is to issue court proceedings. The time it takes to go through the courts varies but one should expect it to take anywhere between 18 and 48 months.
5. How much is a personal injury claim worth
The size of a claim can vary greatly depending on the type of injury, the severity of the injury, the recovery period, and any financial loss incurred as a result of the injury.
Although it is difficult to estimate the compensation that may be awarded for a given injury, a good guide to the value of claims is the Book of Quantum. The Book of Quantum provides judges, legal practitioners and the general public with a guideline on how much should be awarded in a claim. The book assesses certain injuries in terms of severity and how long it may take to recover. Important to note is that this book does not determine the exact value of a case, actual circumstances and expenses incurred may lead to a different outcome.
Are you a victim of Personal Injury? Get in touch!
If you are a victim, obtaining the advice of a professional and experienced personal injury solicitors is in your best interests. At OBM, we will do everything we can to make the process run as smoothly as possible for you. We will work long and hard to make sure that you obtain the compensation that you deserve.
For a free, no obligation consultation, call O’Brien Murphy Solicitors on (01) 874 6959 or contact us.