In theory, you do not need a solicitor to make a personal injury claim in Ireland. However, it is risky to proceed without legal advice. Using a solicitor ensures your claim has the best prospect of success, and that you receive the maximum amount of compensation.
Making a claim through the PIAB
All personal injury claims in Ireland must be made through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB), with the exception of medical negligence claims. When the PIAB was first created, it sought to limit the involvement of solicitors. The idea was that injured persons could pursue compensation directly through the PIAB, without having to instruct a legal expert.
However, the High Court rejected the PIAB’s desire for a lawyer-free zone, stating that legal representation is a ‘fundamental right’. Now, you can decide whether or not to use a solicitor when making a personal injury claim. Technically, you do not have to instruct a solicitor if you do not want to. But most people do – and for good reason.
The dangers of not using a personal injury solicitor
In fact, failing to instruct a personal injury solicitor can be detrimental to your claim. Here’s why.
You need to ensure your claim has a good prospect of success
Pursuing a personal injury claim that has little prospect of success will be a waste of your time and money. Yet unless you speak to a solicitor, you cannot know for certain whether you have been the victim of personal injury, and whether you have sufficient grounds to proceed with a claim. Without this insight, you may spend time and money getting medical expert reports, completing the paperwork and filing a claim – only for it to be rejected.
The PIAB does not offer legal advice
You might think that the PIAB will offer you some advice along the way – but you would be wrong. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board is meant to be both independent and impartial. It cannot give you legal advice. So, if you run into a problem or have a question that needs answering, you will have no one to turn to. This happens more often than you might think, as pursuing a claim through the PIAB can be complex. If you instruct a solicitor, however, you can rest easy, knowing that an experienced professional is handling everything for you.
It is up to you to prove your case
When you make a personal injury claim, it is up to you to prove your case. This can be achieved in a number of ways, such as providing supportive medical expert reports and details of your financial losses. Personal injury solicitors know exactly what evidence needs to be presented – firstly to ensure that a claim succeeds, and secondly to ensure the maximum sum of compensation is obtained. Without a solicitor, this burden will fall to you. If you get it wrong, your claim may under-settle (meaning your compensation settlement falls short of its true value). Or even worse, your claim may fail.
You will not know if the PIAB’s assessment is fair
When the PIAB has investigated your claim, it will suggest a sum of compensation. You can either accept or reject this assessment. Unless you have a background in personal injury law, you probably won’t know whether this assessment is fair. The PIAB is motivated to reduce personal injury costs. It may be that you would secure a higher sum of compensation by rejecting PIAB’s assessment and negotiating directly with the insurer.
Litigation through the courts is complicated
If you do reject the PIAB’s assessment, you will need to begin action through the courts. This can be complicated and requires a sound understanding of the various rules and court procedures. If your case does not settle before the court hearing, you will have to represent yourself. Litigants in person are pitched against the insurance company’s legal team – and so have a lower chance of success.
You might not receive the right amount of compensation
In the meantime, negotiations can begin between you and the other side’s insurance company. Unless you have a personal injury solicitor, this will make for a very uneven playing field. The Law Society of Ireland even states that: “legal representation is necessary to guarantee the rights of victims of accidents against the interest of big business and the insurance industry”.
Personal injury solicitors are skilled at negotiating with insurers and are keenly aware of their tactics to limit compensation settlements. In fact, a Central Bank audit found that solicitors obtain higher compensation awards than those who represent themselves.
Without a solicitor, the insurer may successfully defend your claim, or may settle your claim for less than its true value. You can only claim compensation for the same personal injury once. So unless you get it right the first-time round, you will be denied your rightful compensation.
Why you need a personal injury solicitor
Therefore, using a personal injury solicitor offers complete peace of mind. Your solicitor will prepare your case, leaving you free to focus on your recovery. Meanwhile, you can feel confident that your solicitor is acting in your best interests. Unlike the PIAB and the defendant’s insurance company, your solicitor is on your side. He or she will fight on your behalf, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.
Speak to our personal injury solicitors
If you want to start a personal injury claim, please contact us at Mullins & Treacy Solicitors. We have a dedicated team of personal injury solicitors who are ready and willing to help you. We are client focused and results driven.
Call us on 051 391 488 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a no obligation enquiry.
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