Outline of High Court Settlements Ireland
Despite the fact that the majority of personal injury* cases do not go to court – over 80 per cent in fact – there are some cases where injured parties who have sustained injuries in incidents due to third-party negligence receive high court settlements in Ireland.
The circumstances surrounding their accident, the damages sought and often the age of the claimant will usually be deciding factors in whether an individual has to go to court for a personal injury* claim and high court compensation claims are generally reserved for the most complicated legal cases, those where an agreement on liability cannot be adequately determined by all parties involved and when a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached.
The Function of the Injuries Board
Although the Injuries Board has little connection with high court settlements it is necessary to be aware of their role in Irish personal injury* compensation cases. All personal injury* claims in Ireland (apart from cases involving medical negligence*) must be submitted to the Injuries Board. Where the negligent party does not consent to the Injuries Board assessing your compensation claim, the Injuries Board will issue the plaintiff with an Authorisation which allows him or her to pursue their claim through the courts.
In order to make a personal injury* claim for compensation an application can be submitted either online or by post and must include the following documentation:
- A completed Application Form (Form A)
- A Medical Assessment Form (Form B) completed by the doctor who treated/is still treating the accident victim
- Any receipts for costs incurred that are directly attributable to the accident and any other documentation that may be deemed relevant to the claim
- A fee of 45 Euro for the online application or 40 Euro when submitting a claim online
Pursuing your Claim in the High Court
If any personal injury* case cannot be successfully settled, either by rejection of the Injuries Board assessment or because of a failure to reach a successful settlement with the opposing party, those cases will be scheduled for trial before a court, with the possibility of securing high court settlements in Ireland.
The cases heard in the high court are the most complex and the court is given unlimited power to award damages. How a court case will be programmed depends on whether or not the defendant (negligent party) admits to being responsible for the victim’s injuries.
If the defendant denies liability, the trail will take this format:
- The plaintiff’s barrister will summarise to the judge the nature of the case and the injuries their client sustained.
- If relevant, medical evidence relating to the victim’s injuries may be given by a doctor.
- The victim will be called to the witness box to give evidence about how the accident happened and their injuries. The defendant’s barrister may cross-examine the victim.
- All the other witnesses on the victim’s side will give evidence and will be cross-examined by the defendant’s barrister.
- All the defendant’s witnesses will give evidence and are cross-examined by the victim’s barrister.
- After all witnesses can been called, both barristers may make submissions to the judge.
The judge will make their decision regarding whether the defendant was to blame and is therefore liable to pay damages to the plaintiff, how much damages the victim should be entitled to and who should pay the costs of the proceedings.
If the defendant in the case has admitted responsibility but the victim does not accept the compensation settlement offered, the matter will be extended to a court for judgement on only the amount of damages to be obtained.
The Amount of Compensation in High Court Settlements Ireland
In order to obtain compensation for injuries suffered in an accident, it must be clear that the party/parties the claim was made against were to blame, at least partially, for the accident and the injuries suffered by the plaintiff.
Contributory negligence may apply if a number of people are to blame for an accident, including the injured party. In this scenario the court may apportion or divide the responsibility between the different people involved.
A compensation claim is divided into two parts; general damages and special damages. General damages account for the pain, suffering and inconvenience that the plaintiff has experienced and special damages relates to the financial costs you have incurred, and will incur in the future as a result of the accident.
When High Court Action is Applicable
Aside from when a compensation settlement cannot be reached there are other instances of when a case would be brought to the high court, including but not restricted to:-
- Medical negligence claims, which are always taken to court and are sometimes taken to the high court, especially when there is doubt whether liability for death or serious injury exists.
- Claims for industrial diseases, such as those that are asbestos-related, where the disease has developed over a long period of time and there may be a dispute over liability.
- Cases that involve a minor (a child under the age of eighteen). These cases require for the victim to be represented by a “next friend”, and must always be approved by court. The most complex of such cases would be heard in the high court.
High Court Settlements Ireland: Conclusion
Cases where liability is denied, where settlements cannot be reached or highly complicated cases would potentially be referred to the highest level of the judicial system in the hopes of obtaining high court settlements in Ireland.
It is very important that anyone who wishes to pursue a personal injury* compensation claim where there is the possibility that it fits the criteria mentioned above consults with an experienced solicitor. Selecting a specialist high court injury compensation solicitor can make all the difference in such claim, not only in the possibility of success, but in the settlement amount which is eventually awarded.