Car accident Berwick Solicitors Galway and DublinA car accident or other road traffic accident occurs when a road vehicle collides with another road vehicle, pedestrian, animal, road debris, or other geographical or architectural obstacle. Traffic collisions can result in injury, property damage, and death.

A number of factors contribute to the risk of collision including; vehicle design, speed of operation, road design, and driver impairment (due to alcohol, medical disability, etc).

If you have been injured in a road traffic accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering ( known as “general damages”) and for any out of pocket expenses (known as “special damages”). Your personal injury solicitor will advise you further on damages.

If you were injured as a result of the actions of an uninsured driver, you will need to notify the Motor Insurer’s Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) which deals with claims arising out of accidents involving uninsured drivers or unidentified motor vehicles. The MIBI also deals with accidents involving foreign drivers.

For more information or to arrange a consultation, please contact:

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<div align="center">Matthew Molloy</div>
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Matthew Molloy

Partner

Tel: (091) 567 545 (Galway)
Tel: (01) 488 3322 (Dublin)
E: MatthewMolloy@Berwick.ie
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<div align="center">Emer Mulry</div>
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Emer Mulry

Solicitor

Tel: (091) 567 545 (Galway)
Tel: (01) 488 3322 (Dublin)
E: EmerMulry@berwick.ie

Who is to blame in an accident? When can I claim?

You are entitled to submit a claim for Compensation to the Injuries Board (formerly known as PIAB or the Personal Injuries Assessment Board) or through the Courts in certain circumstances, if you can establish that the party/person who caused the accident or injury was at fault (if you can establish that the said person or party was only partly at fault, then you are entitled to be compensated to the extent of this percentage of liability). In certain cases, this aspect does not cause a major difficulty (for example, usually where your vehicle is hit from the rear). In other cases, it can be very difficult to establish that the other party is liable or partly liable. Ultimately, it may be left to a Court to decide this question or it may be resolved through negotiation between Berwick Solicitors and the Insurance Company. Feel free to ring our personal injury solicitors at Berwick Solicitors for our view without obligation.

Who is to blame? More details.

At the first consultation with Berwick Solicitors, we will try to advise you as to the likelihood of your claim being successful. Sometimes, it is clear that a successful outcome (or, as the case may be, unsuccessful outcome) will be achieved but certain cases are taken on the basis that there is considerable confusion as regards whether the claim will be successful but, having balanced the risk and costs involved, it has been decided to pursue the claim in the hope that a compromise will be reached with the other person’s Insurance Company and so result in fair compensation, taking into account the fact that you might be partly responsible for the car accident / road traffic accident.

So, if you are involved in head-on collision with another car on a bend where you were partly on the wrong side of the road and, likewise the other party was partly in the wrong, it may be appropriate that the claim be settled on a percentage basis. For example, it might be agreed that each succeed to the extent of 50% – in this case the compensation which you will receive will be only half which you would have received had you been fully in the right and, likewise, the other person will receive compensation of half the normal worth of the case. This percentage of compensation may be very large, or small, depending on the extent of injuries and damage caused but it is normally worth pursuing. However, in this case, you might lose your no-claims bonus with your Insurance Company (unless you have insurance to cover this).

What about motorcycles/motorbikes?

In the same way, a claim can be taken by the driver of a motorcycle/motorbike provided they can show that the Other Party is liable.

Can I sue where I am injured from a Slip and Fall or Tripping Accident?

Yes; the rules are the same; you need to be able to show that the Other Party is liable. So, if you slip in a supermarket, you need to show that the floor is slippery or other such defect. Please feel free to ring Berwick Solicitors to discuss.
Please click here to view our Slips, Trips and Falls accidents webpage.

What if I lose my Case?

Your case can be assessed at intervals so as to reduce this risk. However, if you los , you are liable to pay the legal expenses of the other party. If you lose, hopefully, the costs can be kept to a minimum by careful negotiation with other party or their insurance company.

How long will my accident claim case take?

The time that your case takes depends on a number of factors. Usually, it is best not to resolve your case until your injuries have settled down. If your injury is not very serious, it can be resolved within a short time. However, if your injuries are serious and long-lasting, then you are advised to wait some considerable time before settling your compensation claim.

Do I need to go to court for a car accident / road traffic accident claim?

Most injury cases are resolved out of Court so there is generally not any need to go to Court.

What should I do after accident?

Keep a Diary:
It is advisable to write down details of the car accident / road traffic accident as soon as possible. In other words, as soon as you is in a position to do so, you should put in writing your account of the car accident /road traffic accident . The reason for this is to avoid forgetting the relevant details. You should also take detailed notes of your conversations with the other driver, witnesses, Gardai and other persons. This account can then be referred to in the future (possibly some considerable time afterwards for a Court Case) and will be a very valuable aid to your memory.
Furthermore, it would clarify your thoughts and make it easier for you to recollect the accident and avoid confusion and conflicting evidence being given by you (which can result from bad memory and can severely damage your case in the event of your case going to Court). Even though the car accident / road traffic accident might have occurred, say, two years prior to the Court hearing, you will be expected to remember most of the occurrence and you could find yourself in difficulty in Court if you are very vague or unclear as regards events.

Inform your Insurance Company:

At the earliest date, you should inform your Insurance Company of the occurrence and obtain an Accident Report Form from your Insurance Company, complete this and return it to the Insurance Company. There is normally very little difficulty in completing a form of this nature, which will also include a section in which you draw out a simple sketch of the accident but nevertheless care must be taken in completing it. If in doubt, our personal injury solicitors team at Berwick Solicitors can assist you with this form.

Berwick Solicitors will get details from Gardai:
Berwick Solicitors usually write to the Gardai, requesting confirmation of names, addresses and insurance details of Defendant. It is important that these details are correct, so as to ensure the case is not proceeding on the basis of incorrect information. Furthermore, the Gardai may be in a position to give names of witnesses or other relevant details which I might not have at this point.
The Gardai will normally give this information. If the Gardai are about to prosecute one of the parties involved, the Gardai will still give this information but will not release more detailed evidence until after the prosecution. If there is a prosecution of the said Defendant, (that is, if the Gardai charge the Defendant with careless driving or dangerous driving in the “Criminal Courts”, remember, you will be claiming compensation for you in the “Civil Courts” or PIAB). Berwick Solicitors will arrange to be in Court so as to hear all the evidence but, as it is a Garda case, you and your solicitor would not be allowed to be directly involved (unless you are prosecuted and your solicitor would then be defending you).

Should I attend hospital after accident?

You might attend a Hospital immediately after the accident or you might be referred to a Hospital at a later date. If it is realised at the scene of the accident that injuries might have been suffered, it is normal for you to be brought to a Hospital for examination. At the Hospital, Medical Personnel will arrange for appropriate examinations and have you referred for X-rays and other such more detailed tests and treatment. Frequently, injury is often not perceived immediately after the accident and you might only become aware of it some hours or days later. In other cases, it is normal for you to attend your GP and for your GP to refer you to the Hospital for X-rays and other Scans.

Accordingly, in these cases, it may be some days before you attend Hospital. Doctors sometimes advise that X-rays be taken in these cases, even if bony injury (for example, a break or fracture) is not suspected in these cases. X-rays may be very useful at a later date to compare the condition of your bone injury at this stage with development at a later date for medical analysis and legal proofs . The Hospital might advise that you return to the Hospital at intervals subsequent to this initial examination for continual assessment or you might be referred back to your GP. In other words, it is likely that you will be asked to return to the Hospital every few weeks for assessment. At the initial attendance at the Hospital, appropriate Medical prescription will be given (or you might be referred to your GP for this). In whiplash cases (neck injury or back injury), it is normal for pain-relieving medication to be prescribed, as the degree of pain in these cases can be most severe. Furthermore, anti-inflammatory medicine might also be prescribed if Doctors are of the view that this is appropriate.

Should I return to work after accident?

After you have been discharged from Hospital, you then return home to live with the injury as best you can. You may soon have to face the question of whether you are able to return to work. This question should be addressed with your Doctor. The answer to this question (of whether or not to return to work) will depend on the nature of the injury and the degree of injury suffered as well as the nature of your employment. Accordingly, if you have suffered a neck injury, back injury or head injury, you might not be in a position to return to work if you are engaged in physically-demanding employment.

Likewise, if you are engaged in a job which requires considerable travelling in your car, a neck injury or back injury may prevent you resuming your job for some time. On the other hand, your Doctor might advise you to return to work. In law, you are obliged to return to work when you are able to do so and you are not entitled to stay out of work when return to work is medically advisable and possible. In law, you are obliged to “mitigate” (or reduce) your losses in accident or compensation claim cases, meaning that you are obliged to return to work and resume income so as to keep to a minimum the amount which you are claiming against the person who caused the injury. In any event, each case varies and you can only assess your own injuries and own job and make the appropriate decision in the circumstances in consultation with your medical advisors and your personal injury solicitor.
How do children or minors (under 18) make a claim for an accident / injury?

Any person under the age of 18 years cannot sue in his or her own name. Instead, the case must be taken in the name of one of the parents or a guardian. The child is allowed to give evident in Court. When a settlement is reached in respect of the accident / injury, the matter must come before a Judge who must approve the settlement. This means that, even though the Insurance Company might have agreed to pay a certain amount of money to the child, the accident claim /compensation claim must be presented before the Judge who must be satisfied that the amount being offered is sufficient compensation for the child.

If the claim goes through the Injuries Board process and is settled or the Injuries Board makes an award, the award must still be approved by the Court on behalf of the child.

The reasoning behind Court approval being required is that the Court is a Guardian of the child and must be happy that the settlement is a fair and reasonable settlement, taking into account the seriousness or otherwise of the accident /injury.

The said monies, whether received by way of settlement or Court Order, are lodged in Court and cannot be drawn by the child until the child reaches 18 years. After 18 years, the child is entitled to withdraw the money/compensation. The money is invested during the said period, until the child is 18 years of age. The investment is carried out by the Court System. It is possible, prior to the child reaching 18 years of age, to request the Court to allow certain monies to be withdrawn so as to allow these monies to be used for the child (for justifiable purposes, for example, education or medical needs). However, the Court is generally reluctant to allow monies to be paid to a child unless the payment clearly for the benefit of the child in the long term.

How do I get doctor/medical reports?

Reports from your Doctor and Medical Consultants are normally required in accident claims for compensation for injuries. In other words, it is necessary to obtain an outline of your injuries from the Doctor and explanation by the Doctor of the nature of injuries suffered, the seriousness of the injury and the likely period for which the injuries will last and the general prognosis (forecast/prediction as regards your condition).

Berwick Solicitors will arrange these reports. It is normal, in neck injury, back injury or muscular injury cases, to obtain a medical report from an Orthopaedic Surgeon as these are experts in injuries of this nature. The Orthopaedic Surgeon will examine your injuries in the light of x-rays and other medical data. To prepare the report, the Orthopaedic Surgeon will meet you and discuss your injuries.

When meeting the Orthopaedic Surgeon, it is most important to ensure that you outline to the doctor all of your complaints. In this way, you are more likely to receive good and fair compensation for the injuries suffered by you in road traffic accidents or other accidents.
If your injuries are complex, your solicitor will ensure that reports are obtained from the relevant medical specialists so that your accident is processed in an effective way. These reports are especially important in serious accident/injury cases where long-term injury has been sustained .

What other medical examinations will i have?

The Insurance Company of the other person (Defendant) & the Injuries Board will arrange for you to be examined by their Doctor/Consultant. The purpose of this examination is to allow the Insurance Company/ the Injuries Board to assess your medical condition to help them to “value” your case. The said Doctor/Consultant will sometimes carry out various stretching exercises with you (in relation to back, neck and such injuries) so as to discover the extent to which the injury has restricted your movements.
This Doctor/Consultant will ask you to outline the manner in which the accident has affected you. It is advisable to consult your Diary/Record at this point so that full details are given to the said Doctor. These examinations are arranged in almost all cases and, accordingly, you should not feel nervous or concerned about undergoing them; on the contrary, you should assert yourself and outline injuries as comprehensively as possible as to do justice to your claim.

Should I take photographs of my injuries?

In certain cases, photographs may be useful so as to produce a historical recording of the injury, whether caused by road traffic accident, accident at work or otherwise. Photographs are not of any benefit in cases involving neck injury or back injury but can be of considerable benefit where cuts/bruises/other markings are evident. These photographs can be of considerable benefit in settlement discussions/Court hearings when the case takes place some months or years after the injuries and when the injuries appear to have fully healed. Without such photographs, it may be extremely difficult to convince a Judge/Insurance Company representative that injuries were as nasty as photographs will prove.

Should i keep a diary/record of my injuries/whiplash?

It is advisable to keep “a diary” (or written record or notes) concerning your injuries, (meaning that you should write down particulars of your suffering, details of same, how same affected your lifestyle; whether same affects your sleeping pattern; any difficulty in sitting, difficulty in walking, problems in your occupation and all other such relevant details concerning the injury including whether pain relief tablets are being taken). This detailed outline of your suffering will be of considerable benefit in the case (for example, if you are discussing the case two years later, you are less likely to forget relevant details). Normally, you should enter details in the diary or written record every few days/weeks and it can be a very short outline if you do not wish to go into much detail (usually minute detail is not required).

How will my claim be resolved? Settlement discussions – what is involved?

At some stage, discussions dealing with the settlement of your case are likely to take place. Nowadays, these are frequently done by your Solicitor over the phone (in less severe cases). In more serious cases, Settlement Discussions involve a meeting taking place between Berwick Solicitors and the Insurance Company . In other words, a meeting takes place between your representatives and the representatives of the Insurance Company in which your case is discussed with a view to resolving it. You will not be present at the discussion but you will be asked to attend at the location so that you can be consulted concerning details of the discussion. If these discussions take place, the Insurance Company representatives are likely to make an offer of compensation to you. Berwick Solicitors (sometimes a Barrister will assist) will advise you as to whether this offer is sufficient or whether you should turn it down.
Normally, these discussions involve offer, counter-offer and negotiations for some considerable time until, hopefully, a satisfactory offer is made which you decide to accept. The said discussions can only take place when you feel that you are in a position to assess your injuries i.e. it is advisable to wait some considerable time before you enter into discussions, as otherwise, you are likely to under- sell your injuries (for example, if you settle for a certain amount of money on the basis of your perceptions of your injuries after a period of six months after the accident, you might discover, some months later, that your injuries are considerably worse and, of course, it will then be too late if you have already accepted a settlement offer).
At the said settlement discussion, it is advisable for you to attend with some confidante or friend so that the offer can be discussed with the said person. Of course, your Barrister and Berwick Solicitors will also advise you as to whether the offer is a reasonable one in the circumstances. At these discussions, it is advisable for you to bring your diary, so that you can revive your memory of the details of the accident and your suffering.

What expenses can I claim in accident cases?

From the very beginning, you should keep invoices or receipts in respect of all expenses incurred. These invoices will include, for example, hospital invoices, invoices for x-rays, taxi and other travel expenses, pharmacist’s expenses, doctor’s expenses, specialists’ expenses, fees for MRI Scans and other such expenses arising out of the accident. These Invoices/Receipts should be given to Berwick Solicitors at intervals so that they may be included in the claim. Without written receipt/invoices, it may be difficult to be compensated in respect of these out-of-pocket expenses. Out-of-pocket expenses are referred to as Special Damages.

How much compensation do i get for my injury?

Many factors are taken into account in deciding the amount of compensation to which you are entitled to for your car accident/compensation claim. You are entitled to receive compensation to the extent of your injuries. Naturally, you are entitled to higher compensation if your injuries are serious. Seriousness of injuries is determined by a number of factors, including intensity of pain suffered, whether you attended hospital and were detained for a period, the extent to which the injury interfered with your normal lifestyle, the length of time which the injury and suffering have persisted.

A very important factor to be taken into account in assessing the amount of compensation is the prognosis i.e. the extent to which the injury is likely to affect you in the future; accordingly, if the doctors are of the view that your injury is likely to last into the future and further deteriorate, this will be a very important factor in deciding compensation. Your law firm (if they are experienced personal injury solicitors) will be able to advise you once the medical information is available, and certainly as soon as prognosis is clear. Furthermore, if the doctor is of the view that the injury is likely to lead to arthritis or other debilitating disease, this will be very relevant.

On the other hand, if your complaints have largely subsided and you have almost made a full recovery (say after a period of one year after the accident), this will indicate that your injuries are much less severe. Your occupation at the time of an accident might be very relevant.

Accordingly, if you are engaged in physically-demanding employment, the injury may have much more severe consequences (to the extent to which it will adversely affect your capacity to work) than if you are engaged in a sedentary occupation (office work) but each case must be examined on its own merits.

Is there tax payable on my compensation?

Settlement payments or Court Awards in respect of personal injuries are exempt from Income Tax. Accordingly, money received in this way comes within the rare category of not being taxable. Quite clearly, this is a major advantage to payments of this nature. Any income, including rental income received in respect of investment of such compensation or Court Award, is also exempt from Income Tax. However, for the exemption to apply, income arising from the investment must comprise of the “Sole or main” income of the individual concerned. In these circumstances, the Revenue Commissioners define “Sole or Main” as being more than 50%. In working out these calculations, they disregard any Invalidity/Disability Pension received, provided that the injury or disability which gave rise to the payment of the said Invalidity/Disability Pension, arose from the same accident.

What if I had already suffered from injuries before the accident?

Frequently, clients will have then suffering from other injuries/complaints before the accident (whether it is car accident insurance claim or other accident) . In other words, you may have been involved in a previous accident or otherwise suffered a back injury, neck injury, head injury or other complaints prior to the present accident. The present accident might make these injuries worse. For the present accident, one is entitled to receive compensation to the extent that the present accident contributed to the worsening of your condition.
Sometimes, it may be difficult to distinguish between the injuries or complaints which prevailed prior to the accident and those which were caused by the present accident. In any event, it is a matter to analyse your condition and to “apportion” the causes of the present complaints (taking into account your own complaints and doctors views as regards these aspects). In any event, please be reassured that you are entitled to be compensated for the extent which the present accident rendered you worse. Your experienced personal injury solicitors can help you to broker a deal/to work out compensation.

Can I claim for loss of income?

If you suffer loss of income arising out of the accident, you are also entitled to claim for this loss. If your employer does not pay you because you are out of work, or you suffer a reduction in your income, you are entitled to claim this amount. Any loss of income suffered by a self-employed person can also be claimed (usually accounts are required from your Book-Keeper/Accountant to vouch loss of income in these cases).
However, generally, any Social Welfare received by you is deducted from this. For example you receive €5,000.00 less from your employer during a three month period than you otherwise would have received, you are entitled to claim this €5,000.00. However, if you received, for example €2,000.00 Social Welfare during this period, the €2,000.00 would be deducted from the €5,000.00. Accordingly, in these circumstances, you would be entitled to compensation of €3,000.00. Certain types of Social Welfare are non-deductible but these are rare.

Will the insurance company hire a private investigator to investigate my claim?

Insurance Companies frequently employ Private Investigators to investigate claims. Typically, the investigators will follow you and examine your activities and take photographs of you carrying out activities which might indicate that your injuries are not as serious as you are claiming. In other words, if you are claiming that your back and neck are seriously injured and that you are unable to carry out activities, the Private Investigator might attend close to your house with a view to obtaining evidence that you are able to engage in certain activities (for example, gardening or other heavy work). Accordingly, you should be aware, when making a claim, that the Insurance Company might investigate you in this way.

Can I claim if the other party is uninsured?

Yes, in most cases you can claim, even where it is a “hit-and-run” accident, (where the driver is unidentified and has fled from the scene of the accident). In these cases a claim can usually be made against the MIBI (Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland). Please contact Berwick Solicitors for advice.

Will my case go to court? How much will it cost me to make a claim?

Most cases do not go to court. Most are resolved in the Injuries Board stage or prior to you having to appear in Court.
As regards fees, hopefully, most of your fees will be payable by the Other Party’s Insurer (the Injuries Board awards do not cover legal fees). Please feel free to ring Berwick Solicitors to discuss.

What is the court process for my accident claim/ personal injury?

Almost all claims have first to be submitted to the Injuries Board. If the Injuries Board process has not resolved the claim, then the matter must be brought before the Court. The Court process means issuing a “writ,” namely a summons to the Defendant that, unless you are compensated properly for your road traffic accident or other accident, you are going to bring the matter before a Judge for assessment/hearing. Once you commence a Court process, you are bound by the rules of the Court in terms of documentation/hearing dates and other procedures (you must go to the Injuries Board in most cases first, i.e. you cannot leap- frog to Court).

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