One mans account of how the system failed him following a horrific accident.
In Ireland, all Personal Injury Claims must be submitted through the Injuries Board, this is an online process that encourages claimants – you – to submit the claim yourself without legal assistance. However, time and time again it is evident that this system cannot be trusted. This process gives no guidance, communication or explanation to the decisions the process has made and in countless cases victims of personal injury have received a hugely undervalued compensation reward or none at all – simply because the process was not made clear to them and they did not know what to do.
At Gary Matthews Solicitors we believe everyone has the right to justice, an expert should always deal with your claim and the steps in the process should be clearly stated to everyone. The lack of correspondence between the claimant (you) and the Injuries Board not insufficient and does not state clearly what you should do.
The clock is ticking and you have a limited time in which to claim within, if you miss this window you will not be eligible for compensation regardless of the extent of your injuries.
In the Testimonial below we hear an account for Brian* (real name changed to protect his identity) on how he will receive no compensation following an accident in which he was knocked down when cycling. The Injuries Board cannot be trusted, an innocent victim received no support or guidance from the Injuries Board and like so many other injury victims in Ireland each year, has had their case statute barred through no fault of their own, but due to inadequate service being provided by the Injuries Board.
Why the Injuries Board failed me.
Testimonial, Brian from Co. Louth
“On 14th October 2010 I was involved in an incident which was not my fault, in which a Dublin bus collided with my bicycle causing me very serious injuries. Following the accident I contacted the Injuries Board personally who advised me that I would be able to complete the Injuries Board Claims process myself and that I did not need legal advice. Stupidly I listen to them and completed the process myself.
Nearly two years after my accident I received an “Authorisation” letter in 2012 which ‘permits you to take legal action to resolve your claim, if you so wish’. However the letter did not explain why my case was not being “Assessed”, or the legal implications of the Authorisation, or that there was a time period in which I had to issue proceedings. This half page letter also stated that the Injuries Board were ‘closing our file’. After reading an article online about the flaws of The Injuries Board Process, published by Gary Matthews Solicitors, I decided to call Gary Matthews personally for advice. However shockingly, after sending a copy of The Injuries Boar documents to Gary Matthews Solicitor, I was told that my claim was ‘statute barred’, meaning I could no longer take a claim as the time limit to do so had passed!
I was shocked and very upset to find that I now could not claim for an accident that was not my fault and which resulted in me sustaining very serious injuries which I will carry for the rest of my life. The accident has greatly impacted both my working and personal life in many ways. My injuries were chronic and have caused me huge levels of stress, from both the physical effects of my injuries and financially, due to time off work. Due to the lack of advice, information and clarity from The Injuries Board Process I am now denied the compensation I am entitled to. The Defendant in my case, a large government owned company, has not had any repercussions for their actions towards me and the damage they have caused to my life.
I have been advised by Mr. Matthews that had my claim been dealt with in the correct manner I would be, and should be entitled to a substantial six figure sum as a result of my accident, for my injuries and the detrimental effect it is having on my life. I want to warn other victims of the need to always instruct a solicitor before making a claim, to ensure you get the advice you need. Never ever make the mistake I made and try to do this complicated procedure yourself.
As an innocent victim, cycling in Dublin, I did not expect this change to my life following my accident. Had I been given proper advice by The Injuries Board both at the beginning and throughout the process, I could have followed through with my claim and got the damages I am going to need for my family and myself. This compensation would have allowed me to pay for my ongoing medical expenses and help to ease the pain I suffer on a daily basis and make up for the loss of earnings I suffered directly after my accident and which is still ongoing.
Had The Injuries Board advised me on:
– Needing a solicitor to issue legal proceedings, as I am not an expert;
– Clearly stated the date my claim would be statute barred (and explained the implications of this);
– Told me to seek legal advice as soon as possible;
I am positive I would have been obtained the compensation I need. Now, I am unable to issue proceedings and will continue to be a victim of an accident I did not cause. I cannot stress the importance of seeking legal advice to ensure that you are represented properly, speaking to Gary Matthews Solicitors immediately made clear the process for me. The injuries Board is a ‘paper only’ process (no individual is assigned to your case) and DOES NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE or indicate what action you should take and more importantly by what date.
My advice to you is to call an expert. Gary Matthews Solicitors deal with these claims every day and had my “Authorisation” letter been clear about what I needed to do I would not currently be telling you about my experience. The Injuries Board are not acting on behalf of Irish Citizens. They clearly aim to keep innocent people who do not understand the claims process in the dark. It is time for change! I would appeal to The Injuries Board and governing bodies to do more so that people like myself can obtain the compensation we need as a result of being simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Being the victim of an accident is extremely stressful and a situation in which independent legal advice is crucial, as it can greatly impact your life, which I have found out to my detriment.”
Statement from Gary Matthews LLB
Each day we receive phone calls and inquiries from confused members of the public regarding the Injuries Board process, many of whom have reached a stage were their claim is statute barred and cannot proceed simply because the advice given to them is inadequate. Being the victim of an accident can be a very stressful and life changing time and therefore it is vital that citizens are given the appropriate advice and a higher level of service – it is after all citizens of the country who fund The Injuries Board.
A system that has not been reviewed in 10 years and that is ‘paper only’ offering no real advice or reasoning to claimants is simply unacceptable – victims need the proper documents and advice to explain their rights, action needed and any time limits of their compensation claim made clear to them in simple English. Fundamentally, a claimant should be told that a solicitor should complete the process for them to ensure it is done correctly, in time and more importantly to advise then if the “Assessment” figure issued by The Injuries Board is fair and reasonable compensation.
Change is needed and I hope, following recent pressures and media interest in the out of date 2004 Book of Quantum and criticism of the Injuries Board Process, that progress can be made – it is vital that Government addresses these issues now.
In relation to the client above, it is quite simply appalling that a fit and healthy man should have his life turned upside down forever and be told he is receiving no compensation for an accident that was not his fault, simply because the documents did not clearly tell him what to do. A complicated and vague paper exercise is being used to protect larger insurance firms and is not acting in the interests of innocent victims.
Gary Matthews Solicitors offers free legal advice to all claimants and we take pride in providing an expert service to ensure victims are represented properly from the beginning to the end of their claim.
However, the first step to achieving this is for The Injuries Board to tell all Claimants in their opening correspondence that they are entitled and should obtain independent legal advice from a Solicitor. The Injuries Board must change and start acting in the best interests of the innocent victim and not the insurers.
Tell us about your accident by completing the form below or call us on T: (01) 903 6250
A solicitor will be in touch within 1 working day to discuss further.