Personal Injury *
Do I have a Personal Injury Claim?
The first question about personal injury claims in Ireland that many clients ask their solicitor after they have been involved in an accident is if they really have a valid injury claim. In addressing this question, your solicitor will consider a range of factors, including the existence of an actual injury, negligence, liability, statute of limitations, and other important issues.
Personal Injury or damage
The first thing that is to be remembered when pursuing a personal injury claim is that it is in fact just that: a personal injury claim. The plaintiff must have sustained some form of injury either physical or psychological as a result of an incident. Even where the other party, be it a driver, doctor, or employer has indeed acted negligently, even criminally so, it should be understood that with regard to the civil law, a potential plaintiff can only claim compensation for a personal injury loss or damage that he or she has in fact sustained. A near miss – other than where it can be proven to have caused, for example, a severe psychological trauma – is not sufficient to justify compensation being awarded.
If you have not sustained a personal injury in an accident, you are of course still entitled to attempt to recover the costs of personal property that may have been damaged or destroyed.
Personal Injury Negligence
The second factor to note is that the injury sustained must result from the negligence of someone who had a duty of care towards you at the time of and in the circumstances of the accident. For example, employers are expected to provide, within reason, a safe working environment for their staff, shop or restaurant owners to their customers, doctors for their patients, etc.
For example, if Brian falls down a stairs in a restaurant and suffers a serious back injury, he may not be able to successfully claim against the restaurant owner if the stairs conform to all the required safety legislation and there have been no other negligent acts on the part of the defendant in relation to the accident. A court may well find that Brian’s injury was due to misfortune or his own carelessness and that therefore the proprietors of the restaurant can not be held responsible for his personal injury. Your solicitor will advise in detail regarding other situations where a duty of care may exist.
Liability for Personal Injuries
The cause of an accident is not always obvious. In many situations, one party may be completely to blame. However, it is also true that more than one, or several, factors contributed to the accident that has occurred. Moreover, one of the causal factors may have in fact been the negligence of the injured party himself. How then can blame be apportioned? Is the injured party entitled to any form of compensation if he or she has contributed, albeit slightly, to their own downfall? These are all issues that your solicitor will need to analyse with you.
It may also be decided by the court, or indeed agreed between the parties, that both the defendant and the plaintiff were partially at fault for the plaintiff’s injury and in such circumstance the principle of contributory negligence applies.
Contributory negligence is the legal principle that an injured party i.e. the plaintiff, may possibly have contributed to his or her own injury by acting in a negligent manner when faced with the obvious and known conditions. When this is compared with the negligence of the defendant (or defendants), the extent of contributory negligence may defeat the plaintiff’s case (i.e. the claim will be unsuccessful) or reduce the amount of compensation awarded. Often, for example, it may be agreed that the plaintiff bore 25% of the responsibility for his or her accident while the defendant was responsible to a degree of 75%. In such circumstances, the plaintiff’s damages, assessed by the severity of his or her injury and loss, will be reduced by 25%.
Negligence without an injury therefore, or alternatively, an injury without negligence, are not enough to pursue a successful personal injury compensation claim.
Important information in any Accident:
- Take photos of the location
- Take names and addresses of any witnesses
- Try and obtain name of contractor who may have caused obstruction
- Report to your doctor asap and get your injuries treated.
*In contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.