Do I Need a Personal Injury Solicitor?

Often, after an accident occurs, the victim is told that they do not need a solicitor or is put under pressure to accept a fast settlement offer. However, it is in the victim’s best interests to consult with an experienced solicitor before accepting any settlement offer for their injury.

When I had an accident at work, my employer told me that I would not get more than €5,000 for my injuries and that I had to accept the offer right away. I called the solicitors from Personal Injury Ireland and ultimately settled for €16,000. – SM, Dublin

Solicitors who specialise in personal injury are well placed to advise you if a settlement offer is fair, and to let you know what your options are if it isn’t. It is also important to realise that whomever you’re claiming against – an employer, a public body, or a property owner – is extremely likely to be well represented on their side with their own solicitor and their insurer’s solicitors. It is important that you take steps to make sure your interests and your claim are protected.

Solicitors for Personal Injury and Auto Accidents

In Ireland, virtually all personal injury claims must go before one of two boards before any action may be taken in court. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) was set up by the Government to mediate claims between you and the party who caused your injury. The Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), on the other hand, handles your claim if you have been injured in a traffic accident by a driver who does not carry car accident insurance.

People often think that the requirement of submitting a claim to the PIAB or MIBI means they do not need a solicitor, even when making a claim for a serious accident or injury. However, the system is not as simple as it appears, and it is often in your best interests to secure the services of an experienced personal injury solicitor who can take you through the PIAB or MIBI process.

Claiming from the PIAB

The PIAB will tell you that you don’t need a solicitor. However, the PIAB will also not give you legal advice, and while the claims process may seem simple, there are a number of commonly encountered pitfalls in the claims process.

  • You might fail to submit paperwork, forms and/or filings in the proper format, within the allowed time frame, or by the proper means (sometimes mail, sometimes registered mail, sometimes electronic), putting your claim in jeopardy;
  • Only the initial injury report from your GP is allowed, but follow-up GP reports or referrals to a specialist may show a more serious or lingering injury, and you are effectively blocked from claiming for that injury;
  • You may accept the PIAB settlement offer, only to find that your injury gets worse and you have no more recourse to extend your claim;
  • Submitting documentation that is misleading (even in error) can result in your claim being dismissed and even criminal prosecution.

Very often it is in your best interest to go through the PIAB process with your solicitor, reject the compensation offer of the PIAB, and proceed to negotiate directly with the other side’s solicitors and insurers.

Claiming from the MIBI

The MIBI was set up to compensate victims of road traffic accidents injured by uninsured motorists. Unlike the PIAB, the MIBI does recognise the role of solicitors in properly representing their client’s interests. The procedures for claiming with the MIBI are very strict and seemingly inflexible, creating a number of common pitfalls:

  • You might fail to notify the MIBI of your claim before legal proceedings are issued. This will deprive you of your right to recover from the Bureau.
  • The timing, overlap and ability to prove notification to the Bureau is critical to a successful claim, and can be complex to navigate.
  • The procedures for filing before the MIBI are strict, and if you fail to comply with them exactly, it can result in your claim being dismissed.

Very often, therefore, you may find that it is in your best interests to proceed with an experienced solicitor when filing and dealing with the MIBI.

What About the Costs?

Under the Irish legal system, if you recover compensation in regards to a personal injury claim, you are entitled to have your solicitor’s fees and costs paid for by the other side. Please see the article on Legal Costs for a better understanding of how this may work in your case.