Many people are understandably unclear about the process of making a personal injury claim and frightened of the potential costs of going to court.
In Ireland, as in the UK, the unsuccessful party in a personal injury or accident claim case usually has to pay for the legal costs on both sides. (The USA has a different system.) This means that if you are successful in your case, the defendant has to pay your legal expenses in addition to your compensation award.
Some costs are not routinely covered, and these include a portion of the witnesses’ fees, and in particular, expert witnesses’ fees. You will likely have to pay these sums out of your compensation award, or otherwise out of your own pocket.
However, it is important to realize that most personal injury cases never reach court at all. Instead, they are successfully settled outside of court, meaning that the Defendant offers you an amount of money that you accept in satisfaction of your claim. Reaching a settlement agreement with the other side saves you from having to appear in court and giving evidence, and from the stress of additional delays, travel and time spent on something you’d rather put behind you.
If your solicitor is able to reach a settlement with the other side, that agreement will normally stipulate that the Defendant pays your legal expenses. Settlement also means you avoid many of the witness and expert witness fees in the case. For all of these reasons, settlement is often the best possible outcome in personal injury cases, and the outcome most solicitors will strive for, depending on the details of the case.
Your solicitor will discuss the costs of litigation with you at an early consultation.