How to Claim Damages for Personal Injury*: Everything You Need to Know

Written by
Áine McSweeney on
16 June 2022

What is Personal Injury?

If you have suffered an injury as a result of an accident or incident caused, or at least partly caused by the negligence of another party then you may be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation*.  

Examples include an injury as a result of motor vehicle accidents, slips and falls and workplace accidents.

In order to satisfy a personal injury claim, three conditions must be present.

  • Firstly, there must be a duty of care, this is when an obligation is present to avoid causing injury to another person or to avoid placing them in a situation where they may become injured.
  • Secondly, there must be negligence. This is where someone fails to meet their duty of care and causes another party to become injured.
  • Lastly, causation must be proven. This means the other parties\’ negligence must be proven to have caused your injuries.

What Is a Personal Injury Claim?

This refers to the legal action taken by a person after they have been involved in an accident or injured because of the actions/inactions or negligence of a third party. It is a formal process of recovering compensation from the person responsible for your injuries.  

How Personal Injury Claims Work

We would advise you to gather all relevant information at the scene of the accident and take other parties’ information and photographs where necessary.

We would also advise you to seek medical attention and have your injuries assessed as soon as possible (regardless of how severe or minor your injuries are). These consultation notes will be used when assessing your claim and will also aid in preventing your injuries from worsening.

You should report the accident to your insurance company and a member of An Garda Siochana, even if the accident was not your fault. You should also gather information in relation to the garda who attended the scene or to whom the accident was reported. This person may need to act as an expert witness if your claim goes to trial.

We recommend contacting an expert solicitor at HOMS Assist in order for them to act on your behalf and take on the stress for you during an already stressful time.

What Is the Time Limit for a Personal Injury Claim?

There is legislation that prescribes strict time limits in which legal actions must be commenced. This is the Statute of Limitations. 

In personal injuries, the general rule is that proceedings must be issued within two years, less a day, of the date of the negligent act. The statute of limitations clock stops when the matter is lodged with the Injuries Board. 

If a child is subject to negligence, the process of making a claim differs from that of an adult. A minor, persons under the age of eighteen years of age, may be in a position to bring a claim forward in the first two years following their eighteenth birthday. 

However, it is advised to proceed with a claim on behalf of a minor child without delay. In order to do so, a parent/guardian does so on their behalf. The extension of time also applies to persons with intellectual impairment. 

How Long Does a Personal Injury Claim Take?

Many factors can affect the length of time your claim will take.

  • First, we make an application to the personal injuries assessment board on your behalf. PIAB will assess this and have 9 months to come back to us with their decision in relation to the assessment. After this, you and the defendant’s insurance company have 28 days to decide if you would like to accept or reject the offer.
  • If you or the other party’s insurance company decide to reject PIAB’s offer, we will issue a personal injury summons on your behalf. A lot of claims settle outside of court but in the event the claim goes to trial, many other proceedings will need to be lodged on your behalf which takes time.
  • To ensure you receive the best level of compensation for your claim we will also need to obtain reports from experts This will require you to attend appointments in order for your injuries to be assessed. These reports may take time but if you attend your appointments when required and cooperate entirely, we will be able to obtain these reports quicker and so pushing your case along further.

How Much Compensation Can I Expect?

The Judicial Council adopted personal injury guidelines on 6th March 2021. These guidelines provide general guidelines as to how much compensation may be awarded in a personal injury claim and are used by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board when making their assessment. 

In respect to how much compensation you may receive if you are successful in your action, it is important to note that each claim is considered on its own merits. For instance, several factors like the individual circumstances of each claimant, age, occupation, severity of injury, and impact among other things are taken into account.. Each case is unique and is considered on a case-by-case basis. However, in general, a claim is usually broken into two types of awards of money or damages – general damages or special damages. 

General damages

This represents the money you would receive for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, and physical and emotional injury suffered as a result of the accident. The medical evidence in your case, together with the claimant’s own oral evidence is relied upon heavily in valuing general damages. 

Special damages

This is the money you will receive in respect of your financial losses and expenses/out-of-pocket expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident. Your solicitor will collect all the information about your financial losses and expenses and put this information into a formal document called the Schedule of Special Damages. Receipts and backup information, such as payslips are important. Examples include – travel expenses, loss of earnings, medical expenses and bills, care and assistance, etc. 

Travel expenses

The cost of traveling to and from your treating experts.

Loss of earnings

If you worked prior to your injury and you were out of work as a result of your injury you may be able to recover lost wages to the date of your settlement/award by the court and depending on the facts, loss of earnings into the future.

Medical expenses and bills

The cost of, for example, attending your GP, consultants etc. 

Care and assistance

Medical negligence can have serious and often life-changing consequences and compensation is often necessary to help a person adapt to changes and their capabilities. This can range from the provision of specialist care to the reconfiguration of houses and cars and occupational therapists and/or quantity surveyors are often instructed to prepare a report in respect of the same. 

As you can see there is a lot to consider before an evaluation for your claim can be given. Also, the value of your claim can change over time depending on your recovery. 

Are Personal Injury Claims Taxable?

If you receive a personal injury compensation payment, as a result of a civil action, you may not have to pay tax on it.  

However, if you chose to invest your payment this may be subject to tax. If you have other queries related to the same, read our blog on the same topic which goes into detail about personal injury compensation and whether it is taxable in Ireland.

If you or your loved one are thinking of making a personal injury claim, we may be able to help.

With over 50 years of expert legal experience advising clients, we are here to provide expert advice when you need it most.

Call us today on 1800 207 207 or contact us online to have a confidential conversation.