Why Make High Court Personal Injury Claims?
It should be noted from the offset that high court personal injury claims are usually only made in the most complex of cases, when liability is in doubt or when a compensation settlement cannot be agreed on by all parties involved. In fact, over eighty per cent of personal injury claims are settled out of court, usually because the negligent party offers the accident victim a certain amount of compensation, which they accept.
The circumstances surrounding your accident, and the value the damages are likely to be are the usual factors that bring a compensation claim to the high court.
Apart from some exceptions – such as medical negligence cases – personal injury cases begin not in the courts but in the Injuries Board which is a government entity that assess the value of a potential plaintiff’s claim.
The Injuries Board Role
As is it almost always mandatory to submit an application for assessment to the Injuries Board, outlined below are the steps one has to take to do so:-
- Complete Application Form A, where you present the details and circumstances of your accident and injuries.
- Obtain Form B from the medical practitioner who treated, or is still treating you.
- Include a 40 Euro fee for submission by post or a 45 Euro fee for online applications.
- Also included in your application should be receipts for any financial loss that you have incurred as a result of the accident, along with any other documentation you deem relevant to your claim.
Once the Injuries Board has received your submission, they will contact the respondent (the accused negligent party) and will ask their consent to allow an assessment to be made. If the respondent agrees, the assessment will proceed. If the respondent says no, the Injuries Board will immediately close their file and will issue the accident victim with an “authorisation” which will enable them to take their claim to court.
If the respondent agrees, the Injuries Board will make an assessment of the value of your claim which will be sent to both parties when finalised. If both parties agree to the amount assessed, the Injuries Board will issue an order to pay and the claim will be closed. However, if one or both parties reject the assessment the Injuries Board will close their file and the accident victim will be issued with an authorisation.
If your case is not settled at the Injuries Board stage, it is still possible to receive sufficient compensation without pursuing high court personal injury claims. This can be achieved through settlement meetings with the legal representatives of both sides negotiating a fair and accurate amount of compensation for the accident victim.
If the negligent party wishes to offer you compensation to end your claim and you are in favour of settling your case out of court, your solicitor can arrange a settlement meeting with the opposing side’s legal representative before the actual date of trial. Sometimes, a settlement between all of the parties is reached on the day of the trial.
Your solicitor will explain to you the benefits and drawbacks of accepting the offer made by the defendant and will inform you of how successful you may be at the trial and how much you may be awarded in court.
If it is not possible to settle a case fairly and reasonably, you can chose to continue your claim in court.
When High Court Personal Injury Action is Required
High Court Personal Injury Claims are generally reserved for the most complicated compensation claims, cases where an agreement on liability cannot be reached or when a satisfactory settlement cannot be resolved.
It may be necessary for high court action when both parties have to take some of the blame for injuries sustained in an accident where the balance of proof as to who was most responsible is not entirely clear.
Road traffic accidents that appear to be straightforward may need to be brought to the high court in order for compensation to be agreed on; where a driver may receive penalty points and a fine for their reckless driving, compensation costs may not be easily agreed on. In cases involving uninsured drivers, the only way to ensure enough money is obtained to cover medical expenses may be by going through the high court.
Medical negligence claims are never assessed by the Injuries Board and are often heard in the high court, especially when liability for death or injury is in question. Claims for medical negligence are difficult to prove at times, but especially with surgery where known risks are involved and with difficult births when injury or death may have been unpreventable according to the attending obstetrician.
It may be necessary for personal injury claims to be taken to the high court when an employee has contracted a slow-to-develop illness in the workplace, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma which can take decades to develop. There have been some recent high profile cases where although insurance companies have been ordered to pay a settlement, payment was withheld because of disputes over negligence.
Worries and Interim Payments
Many accident victims seek to settle claims out of court rather than risk the considerable additional costs that they may incur when pursuing high court personal injury claims and failure in a claim at this stage would certainly have financial consequences for the plaintiff. The inevitability of a protracted trial and the length of time it may take to receive settlement is also a concern since considerable financial strain can be placed on the plaintiff in cases of serious injury where there are rapidly increasing medical costs.
However, in cases where negligence has been admitted by a third party and the final matter to be addressed is how much in damages should be paid, it may be possible to receive an interim payment until the settlement figure has been agreed. Even where negligence is denied, interim payments may be applicable if the case is particularly strong.
The Important of a Solicitor in High Court Personal Injury Claims
In a high court personal injury claims, it is of utmost importance to choose an expert solicitor experienced in dealing with cases where liability is denied, where settlements cannot be reached or if the case is highly complex. Battling difficult industrial disease claims and claims regarding medical negligence will, in the vast majority of cases, require specialist legal advice.
In cases involving clinical, legal or professional negligence a personal injury high court solicitor will be essential in presenting a case based on opinion rather than fact as they will need to determine that “on the balance of all probability” a professional failed in their legal duty of care and that an act for which they were responsible for resulted in a loss of injury.
It should be noted that high court injury cases may not always rule in the plaintiff’s favour and there is a risk attributed to having a claim heard before a judge. It is imperative that the plaintiff receives the highest quality legal representation to increase the opportunity for a successful personal injury compensation claim. The settlement amount which is eventually awarded could be highly influenced by the presence of an expert solicitor.
If you have been injured in an accident which was caused due to another party’s negligence and believe that you may have a personal injury compensation claim, do not hesitate in seeking the assistance of a solicitor who can evaluate your claim in the free consultation most solicitor’s offer and can determine if you have a viable claim, how much compensation you may be eligible to receive and whether it may potentially find its way to the high court.