Why use a solicitor when going to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board?

If you have suffered personal injuries in an accident, and believe somebody else was at fault, you must first lodge your claim with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) if you decide to seek compensation.

PIAB was established as a means of assessing and awarding compensation outside the courts system. An initial intention was that injured parties could process their claims themselves, without recourse to a solicitor. In practice however, the process has evolved in such a way that engaging a solicitor when making a claim through PIAB is strongly recommended.

Why do I need a solicitor?

The first step in answering that question is an explanation of the PIAB process itself:

  1. The claimant submits a claim form, either online or by post, along with a copy of their medical report and a processing fee (€45 at time of writing in May 2017).
  2. The respondent receives notification of the claim being made against them.
  3. The respondent (often represented by an insurance company) agrees to allow the claim to be assessed.
  4. The Injuries Board assesses the amount of compensation it feels is applicable to the claim. This may involve them asking the claimant to undergo an independent medical examination.
  5. Both claimant and respondent indicate whether or not they accept that assessment. If both do, a settlement cheque is issued.

If making a claim through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, having a solicitor on your side can make a big difference to the process and its outcome.

How using a solicitor makes a difference

Firstly, your solicitor will ensure that all forms are properly completed, and all supporting documentation is properly filed. This may seem relatively minor, but if – for example – the insurance company is not properly named on your claim form (such as a ‘PLC’ or ‘Ltd.’ being omitted, or using a trading name rather than the company name), significant delays can result. In a worst case scenario, your claim could actually be out of time before it is properly filed.

Having all paperwork in order can also affect the level of compensation offered. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board deals only with the information they are given, and so if you happen to omit or not properly state important details, your compensation offer could be lower than it would otherwise be.

Thirdly, when a compensation offer is made, your solicitor can advise on whether to accept it or whether to pursue a greater amount through the court system. Your solicitor will be using all their experience and knowledge of the system in making this decision, and thus is far better placed to do so than you would be yourself.

What solicitor should I use?

Valerie Cotter of Valerie Cotter & Co. Solicitors in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, has a great deal of experience and expertise in dealing with all Personal Injuries claims, both through PIAB and through the courts.

Valerie provides a personal service where she will carefully consider all details of your accident, file the appropriate documentation, keep you updated as your claim progresses, and ultimately advise on whether or not to accept any offer made. If necessary, she can then also provide expert representation as your claim proceeds to court.

Valerie is available for lunchtime and evening meetings as well as during regular office hours. Simply contact her for advice and action if you have suffered personal injuries and wish to seek compensation.