The Importance of Adequate Compensation for Catastrophic Injuries
The importance of adequate compensation for catastrophic injuries cannot be understated. Life changing injuries that cause permanent impairments have physical and psychological consequences as well as the obvious financial consequences.
The victims of catastrophic injuries are likely to require support from multiple agencies. Often parents, partners and family members become secondary victims, as their lives change to accommodate the needs of the catastrophically injured person.
The finances needed to support a catastrophically injured person – and his or her supporters – can be colossal; and for this reason it is of vital importance that you do not leave the settlement of a catastrophic injury compensation claim to chance, and that you speak with a solicitor at the first practical opportunity.
Making a Catastrophic Injury Compensation Claim
A catastrophic injury can be the result of medical negligence at birth or later in life, the consequence of a car crash or an accident at work. When the injury has been caused by a negligent act or omission, a victim – or a responsible person acting on the victim´s behalf – can make a catastrophic injury compensation claim.
Claims for compensation for catastrophic injuries are made either through the Injuries Board or directly against the negligent party when the Injuries Board has no mandate to assess injury compensation (for example medical negligence claims). Both paths are complex because of the potential value of a catastrophic injury compensation claim, and the defendant´s desire to limit their financial liabilities.
Consequently, plaintiffs should never accept an unsolicited offer of compensation for catastrophic injuries without seeking professional legal advice. Naturally a catastrophically injured person will have concerns over their short-term finances, but it is usually possible for a solicitor to arrange interim payments of compensation until an appropriate settlement is negotiated or awarded in court.
What Constitutes Appropriate Compensation for Catastrophic Injuries
No amount of compensation for catastrophic injuries can ever turn back the clock and return an injured person to their former health, but an appropriate settlement of compensation will pay for a long list of treatments and resources that will make them as capable as possible and give them the best quality of life in the circumstances.
Settlements of compensation for catastrophic injuries usually comprise of four elements. General damages for physical pain and suffering, general damages for psychological injuries, general damages for loss of amenity and special damages to return a plaintiff´s financial position to what it would have been if their injury had not occurred.
As no two claims for compensation for catastrophic injuries are the same, it is impossible to provide guidelines in respect of how much compensation a plaintiff might receive. For this reason it is always in the best interest of the plaintiff that their catastrophic injury and the consequences the injury has made to their quality of life is discussed with a solicitor.
Proposed Changes in Catastrophic Injury Compensation Claim Settlements
Under the current methods used to settle a catastrophic injury compensation claim, it is often the case that the plaintiff receives a lump sum settlement. This has significant risks attached if the plaintiff lives beyond their estimated life expectancy or if the long-term investments made to provide for the future fail to yield adequate returns.
For a number of years, High Court judges have expressed their frustration at the lack of a periodic payment system for victims of catastrophic injuries. However, the Minister for Justice and Equality – Francis Fitzgerald TD – recently published the heads and general scheme of amendments to the Civil Liability Bill which will introduce a new regime for the payment of compensation for catastrophic injuries.
Provided that the measures are adopted in their current form, claims for compensation for catastrophic injuries will be settled by a Period Payment Order – a structured settlement plan in which plaintiffs will receive compensation payments periodically rather than in a lump sum payment. The eventual value of a catastrophic injury claim may be greater or less than awarded under the current system, but the proposed changes should result in a fairer system for the victim of a catastrophic injury.
Further Information about Compensation for Catastrophic Injuries
If you or a loved one have been hurt in an accident for which you were not at fault, and you would like further information about compensation for catastrophic injuries, you are invited to call our claims helpline and speak directly with a personal injury solicitor who is experienced in helping plaintiffs make a catastrophic injury compensation claim.
Please note that – with the exception of claims made on behalf of children – claims for compensation for catastrophic injuries usually have to be made within two years of the event leading to an injury. As it may take the full two years to conduct a comprehensive investigation into a complex claim, you should not delay seeking professional legal advice.