Often, after an accident occurs, the injured person is told that they do not need a solicitor and offered an early settlement offer in ‘full and final settlement’. The injured person might not even know the extent of his/her injuries.
However, it is in the person’s best interests to consult with an experienced solicitor before accepting any settlement offer for their injury.
Solicitors who specialise in personal injury are well placed to advise you if a settlement offer is fair, and to let you know what your options are if it isn’t. It is also important to realise that whomever you’re claiming against – an employer, a public body, or a property owner – is extremely likely to be well represented on their side with their own solicitor and their insurer’s solicitors. It is important that you take steps to make sure your interests and your claim are protected.
In Ireland, ‘Personal Injury’ is defined in the Civil Liability Act 1961 as including ‘any disease and any impairment of a person’s physical or mental condition, and “injured” shall be construed accordingly’. It is a wide definition and personal injury litigation has expanded accordingly over the years as a result.
The types of injury which constitute claims for compensation are wide and varied.
– Neck, back and whiplash
– Head injury compensation claims
– Broken limbs
– Brain damage
– Psychiatric or psycholigical injury (including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other illnesses such as depression).
Statute of Limitations
No personal injury action caused by negligence, nuisance, or breach of duty (whether statutory duty or duty arising under a contract or independently of any contract or statute) can be brought after the expiration of two years from the date on which the accident occured.
Damages in Personal Injuries
This is an area which has been the subject of much case-law over the years and until the book of quantum by the Injuries Board has rarely followed any pattern or been the subject of any form of guideline either by way of statute or common law.
General Damages is an attempt by a court to compensate the plaintiff for non-pecunary losses suffered. Such Damages are difficult to calculate accurately and include ‘pain and suffering’ , loss of the enjoyment of life and disadvantage on the open labour market.
In the High Court, General Damages have traditionally been divided into two figures, one representing pain and suffering to date and the other representing pain and suffering into the future.
Special damages relate to financial loss suffered and expenses incurred by a plaintiff as a result of the defendant’s wrongdoing.
Special Damages’ which represents compensation for losses that can be accurately calculated and may include;
hospital and medical expenses
future loss of earnings
damage to property
care and assistance
aids and equipment
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement
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