Accidents are confusing. Meeting the unexpected (or just the unwelcome) is disturbing. Many personal injury victims have difficulty orienting themselves after an accident. For some, the difficulties are greater than others. Some accidents are more unexpected than others. Road accidents are relatively common, whereas to be hit by an object falling from a defective building is very unusual.
Some injuries bring mixed emotions; accidents at work, for incident. It is difficult to bring yourself to sue your employer even in the absence of simple fear of losing your job in retaliation.
Nonetheless, the principal thing for an accident victim, whether injured in a road traffic accident, an accident at work or in a public liability accident, is to take the initiative.
This is both a large move and a small move, but it is foremost exactly what the law requires. In Ireland, (and other Common Law jurisdictions), civil actions are adversarial, not inquisitorial. There will not, normally, be “an inquiry” into your accident or your injury.
There will, instead, be a contest and you, the victim, will be in the thick of it.
You cannot prevail in a contest unless you take the initiative. This word has two meanings; it means to start something, but it also means to dictate the run of the play.
Initially, all you need to do is to start (the) process, then, you leave it to your lawyer to dictate the run of the play.
What is the process? It is whatever the extent of the injury requires. For a lawyer, the question of liability is to the fore; for a victim the possibility of recovery from injury is to the fore. The lawyer is right to think of liability. Without fault and proof of fault, there will be no victory in the contest. But the norm is not to have struggles over liability. (They do happen). It is to struggle over the claimed extent of the injury. (Sometimes there is no struggle).
The process is twofold; medically, getting better, and, forensically, documenting that process.
At McGarr Solicitors, we tell our injured clients that they need four things; a medical report, €45, a completed PIAB form and a solicitor.
We leave the “getting better” to our clients and their doctors. We look to the forensic documenting. In the Personal Injuries Assessment Board system that means, in effect, the production of a medical report. In the Courts system it may mean a great deal more.