For more information or for free initial advice on a potential claim please contact us on 071 9138572.
At SEAMUS MONAGHAN & CO, solicitors we are committed to ensuring that we achieve the best possible result for our clients. Your welfare is our priority and we are committed to acting in your best interests at all times. We provide personalised advice and representation on a strict basis of what is best for you, your requirements and your situation. We combine this ethos with our extensive knowledge and experience to ensure our clients receive practical, impartial and tailored advice at each stage of the claims process.
Our expert team also aims to make our service as efficient, user-friendly and stress-free as possible. With this in mind, we have taken steps to ensure that all claims can be transacted by telephone, email, or post in order to reduce the inconvenience caused in the process of pursuing your claim.
HAVE I A CASE?
If you have suffered injury,
loss, damage or expense as a result of the negligent act of omission of another
party, then you may be entitled to compensation from that other party or
It is important to note that many valid claims are never brought because an injured party feels the accident was his own fault, whereas the primary cause of the accident may well rest with some other party, and the injured party's own carelessness may only have been a contributing factor. In such cases the courts may apportion Liability. It is therefore always advisable to consult a solicitor concerning any injury resulting from an accident.
Types of Accident include:
Road Accidents *
In 2011 the number of Irish road deaths fell to 186, the lowest level on record, down 26 from 2010. Between January and November 2012, a total of 168 road deaths were recorded. However, road traffic accidents are still among the most common causes of personal injury claims in Ireland. If you have been injured as a result of a road accident, you might be entitled to claim compensation. We are specialists in bringing claims for compensation for people injured in road accidents so whether you are a driver, passenger, pedestrian or cyclist we will work diligently to ensure that you receive compensation as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Workplace Accidents *
Every year in Ireland many thousands of people are injured at work or suffer work related illness. Some are injured as a result of the repetitive nature of their work activities or the absence of appropriate training while others receive injuries resulting from handling, lifting, carrying or working with heavy or dangerous equipment. Other common incidents involve falls, slips and trips in the workplace or in the course of employment. The onus is always on the employer to provide a safe working environment for its employees. If your employer fails to do so, and you suffer an accident or illness because of this, you may be entitled to compensation. If you think you may have a valid case then contact our team for legal advice immediately. We have a wealth of experience and expertise in health and safety legislation and can comprehensively advise you of the course of action which best suits your specific situation.
For more information or initial advice on a potential claim please contact us on 071 9138572.
Public Accidents *
Accidents in public or private places are among the most common personal injury claims that we deal with. These include accidents in playgrounds, leisure centres, shops and supermarkets and can arise as slips on spillage, trips caused by poorly maintained footpaths, or other injuries resulting from inadequately maintained equipment. If you have been injured as a result of an accident in a public or private place, you may be entitled to claim compensation. We have wide knowledge and experience in this complex area of law and would be pleased to advise you on your case.
For more information or initial advice on a potential claim please contact us on 071 9138572.
WHAT IS THE VALUE OF MY CASE?
The amount of compensation to which one is entitled varies in each case, depending on a number of factors, including the severity of the injuries suffered and how long it will take to recover from them. It is often futile to attempt to value a claim in the early stages. After taking your initial instructions, we will take up medical reports from any doctors you have attended. The first medical reports will usually give us a good overview of your injuries and future prognosis and will enable us to decide in which court to launch your case, i.e. the District Court which has jurisdiction to make awards up to approximately €6000, the Circuit Court which has jurisdiction up to approximately €40,000, or the High Court which has unlimited jurisdiction.
The value of your case in terms of General Damages will depend on the nature and severity of the injury or injuries, the pain, suffering and inconvenience resulting there from, the length of time for recovery and the prognosis for the future. In addition to General Damages you are entitled to claim compensation for all financial losses and expense sustained by you as a result of the accident, including loss of earnings, doctors' fees, hospital fees, medication, travelling expenses etc. These are known as your Special Damages. The value of your claim will be discussed with you in some detail by us and your Barrister at the time of settlement negotiations or prior to the Trial of your case.
WILL I HAVE TO GO TO COURT?
We treat every case as if it may end up in court, but in practice few cases do, perhaps 2% of our cases; the other 98% are settled. Cases go to court for two reasons: either the defendant has not offered enough compensation or the defendant has made no offer. If an offer is made, then it is you who decides whether or not to accept the offer; we and your Barrister will give our advice in relation to any offer, but the ultimate decision is yours. If no offer is made, then this would indicate that the other side is reasonably confident of successfully defending the case. In such event your options will be clearly explained to you by us and your Barrister.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?
Until recently, it could take up to 2 or 3 years for a trial date to be set after the pleadings had been closed, that is after the formal exchange of relevant documents between solicitors. Now, in most cases we can get a trial date within a few months of requesting one.
The time it takes to finalise a case usually depends more on the medical process rather than the legal process. As a general rule, we advise our clients not to attempt to settle a case within 12 months of the accident date, as other unforeseen complications or effects can arise. It is good practice to see how the injury has settled at that stage. Subject to the medical reports and Counsel's advice, it may be opportune to try to settle the case after about 12 months, although many cases may take considerably longer, particularly the more serious ones.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Subject to certain very strict exceptions, you have two years from the date of your accident to commence legal proceedings for compensation. If the two year period has expired, even by one day, then your claim is Statute Barred from proceeding. An important exception to this rule is that persons under the age of 18 years at the time of the accident (minors) have until their 21st birthday to commence proceedings. In theory therefore, a four year old for example has 17 years to commence proceedings. It is worth noting however that delays create difficulties in both proving the circumstances of an injury and the nature and severity of the injury itself. Severe delay, even by a minor party, may give rise to the defendant having grounds to apply to dismiss the claim on the grounds that his right to put up a defence has been prejudiced by the delay. In should be noted that it can take time to have legal proceedings issued so you should not leave it until the last few weeks before expiry of the statute before instructing your solicitor in the matter.
Persons under the age of 18 years in law are known as minors or infants. Minors are not permitted to bring proceedings in their own name - they must be represented by a "next friend," who is usually a parent of the child. If a minor reaches the age of 18 years before the claim is resolved, then he or she can continue the proceedings in his or her own name at that stage.
Any compensation awarded to a minor is lodged into the court bank account and becomes payable to the minor, together with interest, when he or she reaches the age of 18 years. Any settlement of a case involving a minor must be approved by the court.
The law requires a solicitor to provide a client with particulars in writing, when the solicitor is instructed, or as soon as is practicable after that, of:
Solicitors' charges are calculated by reference to a number of factors including the following:
These are also the factors which are taken into account in the assessment of a solicitor's bill. In addition to the professional fee and miscellaneous charges payable to the solicitor, there will be items of outlay payable to third parties, including government agencies, which must be discharged by you.
If liability is admitted in your case, this will give you considerable comfort in relation to the legal costs of your claim.
The general rule in litigation is that “costs follow the event”, i.e. if you succeed in your case the Defendant must pay your costs for you. The reverse also applies: if your claim is dismissed by a court, the Judge may Order that the Defendant's costs be paid by you.
However it is worth noting that in practice very few cases get as far as a Court Hearing: the vast majority are settled without going to court or on the morning of the Court Hearing.
If you decide to accept an assessment by Injuries Board, you will be liable for your own legal fees. Injuries Board do not provide any additional allowance in respect of solicitors’ fees.
If your solicitor is dealing with a contentious matter for you, the law requires that the following explanation be given to you.
Unless otherwise agreed, when your solicitor sends you a bill of costs, you are responsible for the payment of that bill. You remain responsible for this amount even where you reach a settlement with the defendant or any other third party and a term of that settlement is that you will be paid your costs. This is also the case where the defendant or other third party is ordered by a court to pay your costs. Your solicitor will seek to recover as much as possible of the charges from the defendant or other third party. When the monies are so recovered, if you have already paid your solicitor, the monies will be refunded to you, less any costs incurred in their recovery. Otherwise, they will be set off against the full amount due to your solicitor.
The amount which the defendant or other third party may agree or may be ordered to pay will not generally be sufficient to set off your solicitor's entire charges. Insofar as the costs recovered from the other party are insufficient to discharge your liability to your solicitor, then you remain liable to make up the shortfall.
Even where your solicitor is satisfied that you have a good case, the law requires that it is explained to you that, in the event of the following circumstances arising, you may be liable to pay, in addition to your own costs, the costs of the Defendant or other third parties.
In the course of handling your claim we will incur certain items of outlay including doctors' fees for preparing medical reports, stamp duty on the proceedings, Counsel's fees for drafting, and in some cases fees of Litigation Engineers for preparing reports. The outlay averages about €1,000 per case but in large cases can be much more. If your claim succeeds, then we can usually recover most of the outlay from the other side. Our clients have the option of paying the outlay on an ongoing basis, in which case the recoverable portion thereof will be refunded to you at the successful conclusion of your case. Alternatively, if that does not suit, we will pay and discharge the outlay on your behalf. If you elect to have us pay the outlay then there will be a handling fee charged at the conclusion of your case. Details will be provided on request.
THE CLAIMS PROCESS
Initial consultations are without obligation and during this first interview we will take the details of your accident and injuries and answer any questions you may have. We will weigh up your claim immediately and if you have a valid claim for personal injury compensation, we will inform you of your options. If you decide to proceed, the claims process will unfold as follows:
This Personal Injury Compensation Claim Guide has been produced to give our clients an understanding of the personal injury compensation claims process.
The first step in the claims process will be to obtain comprehensive details from you about your accident and advise you as to whether you have a valid claim to compensation. If we agree to take on your case, we will write to you confirming your instructions and issue an originating letter of claim to the defendant and/or his insurers.
We will enter into correspondence with the insurers and outline the legal basis of your claim and the nature of your injuries. We will we will present your case to Injuries Board on your behalf, as discussed below in more detail. We will request your medical attendants to provide preliminary medical reports. We will apply for any other relevant reports, for example, the Garda Abstract Report in road traffic accident cases. In cases requiring an engineer’s report, we will instruct a Litigation Engineer to attend at the accident location and to prepare a detailed report and photographs. We will arrange to take witness statements if necessary.
For the purpose of your claim we will request your doctor and any other medical practitioners you may have attended to prepare medical legal reports detailing your injuries and your prognosis. Sometimes these medical practitioners furnish reports based on the notes taken when they examined you previously, but very often they will write back to us giving us a date, time and venue for a medical examination.
We will notify you in writing of all medical appointments which we receive on your behalf. You should make a very careful note of all medical appointments and ensure that you are in prompt attendance. Failure to attend can give rise to a non attendance fee being charged by the doctor and possibly a lengthy delay for another appointment. If any appointment does not suit you, please telephone your solicitor's Secretary as soon as possible to let us know, and we will rearrange the appointment.
Defendant's Medical Examinations
Usually, the Defendant's insurance company will request that you attend a doctor from their own panel of medical practitioners. This is the standard procedure of insurance companies. Depending on the nature and severity of your injuries, the insurers may wish to have you examined by more than one medical practitioner. In very serious cases, there may be several medical examinations carried out by specialists in different fields.
We will not receive a copy of the medical report produced by the Defendant's medical practitioner. It would therefore be helpful to us if following any Defendant's medical examination, you send us a brief statement outlining how it went. As with medical examinations by your own doctors, you should always make a very careful note of the appointment date, time and venue and ensure that you are in prompt attendance, as again, non-attendance fees can apply.
Once we have assembled the necessary reports and statements we will prepare a brief for Counsel (a Barrister) to draft the legal proceedings. We will then stamp and issue the proceedings and serve same on the Defendant, or the solicitors nominated by the insurance company to accept service on their behalf.
The Defendant's solicitors then serve a "Notice for Particulars”. This consists of a series of questions concerning your case, such as how the accident happened, details of witnesses, the nature of the injuries you sustained, your progress to date, details concerning your claim for loss of earnings (if applicable), details of all expenses incurred by you as a result of the accident, the names and addresses of your doctors etc.
We will forward a copy of the Notice for Particulars to you when we receive it and request that you furnish us with your written replies. It is of the utmost importance that your replies are entirely accurate and truthful, including details of any previous accidents or existing medical conditions. Failure to disclose a relevant fact which is requested by the defendants can seriously compromise your claim. You should furnish your replies to us in your own words and we will then re-word your replies in formal language for the purpose of putting in the formal reply.
Although much of the information requested by the Notice for Particulars will already by on our file, it would be most helpful of you would furnish your replies to all questions in any event, unless we specifically confirm that you need not reply to any particular questions. Some of the questions will be of a legal nature which we will deal with.
If you have a difficulty with any of the questions, you may wish to drop in to see us in which case please feel free to telephone for an appointment. When furnishing your replies to us, please at this stage also furnish us with all receipts, or copies thereof, relating to all expenses which you have incurred as a result of the accident.
The Defendant's solicitors then file their Defence. The Defence will indicate whether the defendant accepts or denies liability, although the Defendant may have accepted liability for the accident at a much earlier stage.
In some cases it may be necessary for us to issue certain Motions compelling the Defendant's solicitors to take certain steps, for example a Motion to compel them to file their Defence or a Motion for preservation and inspection of the defendant's premises, or a Motion for Discovery compelling them to produce certain relevant documents. During the course of the case, we will obtain updated medical reports as required.
When the pleadings have been closed (i.e. the Defence file) we instruct Counsel to prepare an "Advice on Proofs" which is a summary of the further steps to be taken prior to the trial and identifies the witnesses required.
If the case does not previously settle, we arrange for it to be set down for trial.
In most cases a "Settlement Meeting" takes place before the case is set down for trial.
Court Lodgements / Tenders
In some cases, the Defendant may serve a "Notice of Lodgement". This document tells us that the Defendant has lodged a certain amount of money into the court bank account, and invites you to accept that amount in full and final settlement of your claim. In that event, you will have the benefit of our advice as to whether we believe your case may be worth more than the amount lodged or otherwise. Regardless of our advice, you have the option to accept the amount lodged in which case we will serve a "Notice of Acceptance". The court office will then issue a cheque for that amount to complete the matter.
If you refuse the lodgement and your case does not subsequently settle but proceeds to trial and the Judge awards you an amount equal to or less than the lodgement figure, then you will have failed to beat the lodgement, and will be held liable for all costs of the proceedings from the date of the lodgement up to the conclusion of the trial. The Judge, in making his or her decision, will not be aware of the amount of the lodgement or tender. A Tender operates in the same way as a Lodgement.
Going To Court
In Circuit Court cases, your case will be presented in Court by your Barrister. In High Court cases, you will be represented by a Senior Counsel as well as a Barrister (Junior Counsel). A pre-Trial Consultation takes place with your Counsel either on the day of the Trial or within a day or two previously. When arriving for your case, it is important that you dress in a manner which shows proper respect for the Court.
Your Barrister will lead you through your evidence, and you should ensure that you answer all questions to the best of your ability. Try to avoid giving hasty or confused replies. If you are not sure of the answer of any question, you should say so. After the examination by your own Barrister, the Defendant's Barrister will cross-examine, in an attempt to illicit details from you which may be favourable to the Defendant's case. The Judge may also have some questions. After completion of your evidence, the evidence of any other witnesses is taken in the same way. In regard to medical evidence, medical practitioners may be in attendance in Court but more usually, their evidence is admitted in the form of medical reports handed into the Judge.
When all the witnesses have been heard, and Counsel has made any relevant points to the Court, the Judge usually makes his/her decision there and then, or s/he may adjourn for a short time for consideration or, on occasions, postpone his/her judgement to another day. The judge delivers a decision on liability, and if deciding in favour of the Plaintiff, will make an award of damages as compensation.
Either party may Appeal the decision of the Court. An Appeal can be brought against the judgement on liability or on "Quantum" (the amount of the Award). In Circuit Court cases the Appeal to the High Court must be lodged within 10 days. The Appeal is "De Novo," a complete re-hearing of the Trial by examination of witnesses in the same way as in the Circuit Court.
There can be no further Appeal from the decision of the High Court. An Appeal from the High Court is made to the Supreme Court. This is a much rarer occurrence. As a general rule, the Appeal cannot be made against the decision of the lower Court on the grounds of liability, but only on "Quantum". The Supreme Court will only adjust the amount of the Award where it is significantly too high or too low.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.
Please contact us at Seamus Monaghan, Solicitors to arrange an initial appointment to discuss your case.