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Injured? What to do. (2)

For some personal injury victims, the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (“PIAB”) is irrelevant. They are the victims of “medical negligence”, a term of wide meaning.

That aside, speaking broadly, it is necessary to submit an application to PIAB. For the person who caused the injury, it is not compulsory to submit to PIAB. If the defendant does not submit, an authorisation issues from PIAB. (This allows the victim to issue proceedings in court).

If the defendant does submit, PIAB will then, normally, make an assessment. Either the victim or the defendant may decline to accept the assessment. If either (or both) decline to accept, an authorisation issues from PIAB, allowing the victim to issue proceedings in court.

Now the victim and the victim’s solicitor will decide the court in which to issue proceedings. This is the jurisdiction issue. It relates to the amount of compensation expected, and the relevant geography. If a sum of approximately €6,300 or less will be satisfactory, proceedings may issue in the District Court area where the accident happened or the defendant resides.  If a sum of approximately €38,000 or less will be satisfactory, proceedings may issue in the Circuit Court area where the accident happened or the defendant resides. Otherwise, proceedings are issued in the High Court in Dublin.

Proceedings are issued by lodging a “Personal Injury Summons” in the court office. The court returns a sealed copy for use and service by the plaintiff.

To be useful, on issuing the proceedings, it is essential that the Statute of Limitations period not have expired. That period, for personal injury, is two years, measured from the date of the cause of action. Generally, there is no difficulty ascertaining the date of the accrual of the cause of action. For a road accident victim, say, it is the date of the accident. Even so, sometimes the time does not begin to run. It does not begin to run until the victim knows (or could reasonably know) that an injury has been sustained and/or knows (or could reasonably know) the identity of the defendant. This implies that a victim must make active inquiries about his or her health and/or the cause of that ill health (if there are symptoms of injury).

For PIAB  applicants, time stops running after PIAB issues a receipt for a valid PIAB application. (A valid PIAB application is one which is not a “medical negligence” claim). It starts running again when PIAB issues the authorisation (with an extra six months added to the two years). For all other victims, time does not get extended. (This includes victims whose claim is for “medical negligence”. For them, time keeps running even after the erroneous lodgment of a claim in PIAB).