The Most Common Personal Injury Claim in Ireland
Claims for whiplash compensation in Ireland are responsible for more personal injury claims than any other type of injury. It has been estimated that whiplash injury compensation claims account for three-quarters of all motor-liability assessments conducted by the Injuries Board – a figure which fails to include claims that are settled by negotiation outside of the standard claims process.
Despite the high volume of claims for whiplash compensation in Ireland, it is important to note that no two whiplash injury compensation claims are identical. How a whiplash injury impacts the quality of life of one plaintiff can be totally different from how a similar injury affects another victim. Consequently, to ensure that you receive the maximum of compensation you are entitled to, you should always consult a whiplash injury solicitor in Ireland.
Whiplash Injuries are Notoriously Difficult to Diagnose
The term “whiplash injuries” relates to soft tissue damage that occurs around the cervical spine – the area between the base of the head and the shoulders (not just the neck) which supports a person´s head. The delicate ligaments and tendons surrounding the cervical spine can easily be damaged by the rapid acceleration and deceleration of the head in an accident – most commonly when you are rear-ended in a road traffic accident.
Even with the wide range of diagnostic test available to doctors, whiplash injuries are notoriously difficult to diagnose. Many soft tissue tears do not appear on MRI scans or X-rays – making the assessment of whiplash injury compensation claims particularly difficult. Furthermore, as whiplash injuries typically do not manifest for several days after an accident, it is also possible that further damage has been done to the ligaments and tendons by the accident victim – who has carried on with their everyday activities unaware that they may be exacerbating their injury.
For this reason, if you are involved in an accident which would typically result in a whiplash injury, it is essential that seek medical attention at the first possible opportunity. Even if you believe that you have not sustained an injury, a medical examination may determine otherwise. Any delay in seeking professional medical advice could result in your claim for whiplash compensation in Ireland being rejected or your settlement of compensation being reduced to reflect your own lack of care.
Am I Eligible to Claim Whiplash Compensation in Ireland?
In order to be eligible to claim whiplash compensation in Ireland, you must be diagnosed with a whiplash-related injury that was sustained in an accident for which you were not to blame. The accident must have been caused by a negligent third party who had a duty of care for your health and safety – such as a car driver who is failing to pay proper attention to the traffic conditions and who rear-ends you.
If you fulfil this criteria, the process for claiming whiplash compensation in Ireland is to write to the Injuries Board, asking them to assess your claim. The Injuries Board will write to the negligent party to ensure that they accept liability for the accident in which you were injured and, once liability has been acknowledged, the Injuries Board will calculate how much compensation for a whiplash injury you are entitle to, based on the diagnosis provided by your doctor and any further information you have provided.
The settlement of whiplash compensation claims in Ireland is comprised of general damages for your pain and suffering, general damages for your loss of amenity (the deterioration in your quality of life) and special damages for any expenses or loss of income you have incurred. If you are unsure how to communicate these elements of whiplash compensation on the application to the Injuries Board, you should seek professional advice from a whiplash injury solicitor in Ireland.
Making Whiplash Injury Compensation Claims against an Uninsured Driver
Drivers in Ireland are required by law to have motor insurance; however not every driver adheres to the requirement. Around 120,000 drivers in Ireland have no insurance, and each year more than 2,000 whiplash injury compensation claims are made in cases where there is no insurance company to settle the claim.
In these circumstances, claims for whiplash compensation in Ireland can be made against the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) – a body created in 1955 to ensure that road traffic accidents involving untraceable, uninsured or unidentified drivers would not result in accident victims being unable to make whiplash injury compensation claims.
The process for claiming compensation against the MIBI is identical to that for claiming compensation against an insured driver; however, plaintiffs should be aware that the MIBI is funded by insurance companies and act in their best interests. Consequently, if the organisation believes that an assessment of whiplash compensation in Ireland is too high, it will contest the settlement.
Contested Whiplash Claims and Settlements of Whiplash Compensation
If the negligent third party responsible for your whiplash injuries fails to accept liability when asked to by the Injuries Board, or the Injuries Board assessment is contested by either party (you have the right to contest a settlement if you believe it is inappropriate), the Injuries Board will issue you with an “Authorisation” to pursue your claim for whiplash compensation in Ireland through the courts system.
This does not necessarily mean there will be a court case to determine liability or how much compensation for a whiplash injury you will receive. In many circumstances, whiplash injury compensation claims are resolved by negotiation – neither party being willing to incur court costs. If negotiations fail and court action is necessary, you solicitor will guide you through the process.
Disputed whiplash injury compensation claims often arise if you were partly to blame for causing an accident or exacerbated your injury due to your own lack of care. If, for example, you had faulty brake lights, it could be claimed that your own negligence contributed to the cause of the accident. In this case you will be assigned a percentage liability, and the settlement of your whiplash injuries claim reduced by that percentage.
Unsolicited Offers of Whiplash Injury Compensation
In recent years it has become more common for insurance companies to approach victims of accidents with unsolicited offers of whiplash injury compensation. The offers are often lower than would be assessed by the Injuries Board, but accident victims have been known to accept a quick settlement to ease any short-term financial difficulties they may be experiencing.
Unsolicited offers of whiplash compensation in Ireland can often bear no reflection on the settlement a plaintiff may be entitled to and, in the long term, could result in a plaintiff having less money than they need to pay for medical costs or support their family – especially as some whiplash injuries have been known to last for years.
If you have been made an unsolicited offer of whiplash compensation, and are experiencing short-term financial difficulties that makes the offer seem attractive, it is in your best interests to speak with a whiplash injury solicitor in Ireland. The solicitor will be able to arrange for an interim payment of compensation to relieve your short-term financial concerns, and then negotiate a more appropriate settlement of your claim.
Speak with a Whiplash Injury Solicitor in Ireland
There are many other scenarios that have not been discussed in this article – such as making whiplash injury compensation claims when you have been injured as a passenger, and the claim has to be made against the driver of the car you were travelling in; or making claims for whiplash compensation in Ireland on behalf of an injured child.
As we mentioned above, no two whiplash injury compensation claims are identical, and to ensure that you receive the maximum settlement of whiplash injury compensation that you are entitled to, it is recommended that you speak with a whiplash injury solicitor in Ireland at the first practical opportunity.
A solicitor will be able to guide you through communicating the consequences of your whiplash injury to the Injuries Board and represent you in negotiations with insurance companies. You will also receive practical advice about what to do when liability is contested or if you have to make whiplash injury compensation claims against the MIBI.
You have nothing to lose by speaking with a whiplash injury solicitor in Ireland and potentially a lot to gain. Call our Freephone injury claims helpline today to speak with a whiplash injury solicitor in Ireland up-to-date advice about whiplash injury compensation claims without any commitment to make a claim for whiplash compensation in Ireland.