I was involved in a multiple car accident and want to know what is an O’Byrne letter? Do I need a solicitor to send one?
Your question “what is an O’Byrne letter” is a good one, specifically because few potential plaintiffs are aware of this letter’s existence. Before explaining, however, you need to know about the general “letter of claim”. Any person who wishes to make a personal injury* claim in Ireland must inform the negligent party that a claim is being made against them, and a letter of claim is therefore sent by the plaintiff’s solicitor. The letter will indicate that the plaintiff holds them responsible for the accident in which they sustained their injuries and the recipient is warned that if they neglect to compensate the plaintiff in full, litigation will be commenced against them.
So, “what is an O’Byrne letter”? This letter basically replaces the general letter of claim is cases involving two or more negligent parties. Where there are multiple wrongdoers, it must be known to what extent each one is liable and the O’Byrne letter requests that they admit liability, propose compensation and determine amongst themselves who is responsible for what degree of the accident. It would be noted in the letter that the plaintiff is not in a position to say who is at fault and the plaintiff would have no part to play in deciding liability.
Additionally, the letter should contain a warning to the recipient that if court action against all of the defendants becomes necessary, the O’Byrne letter will be used in evidence to fix the unsuccessful defendants with the expenses for the proceedings in favour of the defendant(s) who are subsequently found to be not liable. The recipient will be asked to pay indemnities for the costs of unnecessary court action against any of the potential defendants who will not take part in the assessment by the Injuries Board or those who do not accept how much is assessed by the Board. In the absence of an indemnity, the recipient is warned that the plaintiff will seek to be reimbursed for expenses in additional court proceedings and that the O’Byrne letter would be used as evidence to fix the negligent party with the costs.
An experienced solicitor would be able to answer “what is an O’Byrne letter” as regards the individual circumstances surrounding your case. Since you have been involved in a multiple car accident, it is possible that you may have a viable compensation claim and you would be well advised to consult with a solicitor who could assess your claim and draw up and send any O’Byrne letters, if applicable.