In an attempt to deal with the high level of personal injury litigation in the Irish courts and tackle the high cost of insurance the government introduced The Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act in 2003. 2 The act came into effect in June 2004 and established the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). PIAB is primarily governed under the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 (amended 2007) the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 and more recently The Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011. Its duty is to asses all claims for personal injury as an independent statutory body and “without the need for legal proceedings”1. Its purpose is to streamline what was previously a lengthy and costly process and reduce the length of time taken to receive compensation. If we look at the statics in the annual report we see that in 2011 the total yearly charge for the Labour Courts costs had been €10.68m this compared to ligation fees based on comparable work at as estimated €56.45m. 6
Types of Injuries
PIAB deals with all motor liability, employer’s liability and public liability cases. These are all outlined under section 3 of the act. Motor liability represents the highest cases dealt with by the court seeing 7,521 dealt with in 2011 with 830 employer’s liability and 1,482 public. 7 There is however certain exceptions in which injuries are not governed by PIAB, these are outlined in Section 4 of the act and include such as claims arising out of a medical injury or negligence.3 Garda compensation claims are not dealt with by PIAB and instead are made under the Garda Siochana Compensation Acts 1941-1945. Claims where it is alleged that there has been a breach of a provision of the Constitution, claims where as well as damages for personal injuries there is a bona fide intention to pursue damages in respect of other causes of action such as for example slander and Claims pursued under Section 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights Act, 2003 are all exempt from the act. 4 Claims which involve the Motor Insurers' Bureau of Ireland as a Respondent/Defendant, does not appear to be covered by the 2003 Act, as it specifically only applies to a civil action by a person against another person arising out of that others ownership, driving or use of a mechanically propelled vehicle. 5
The application to the injuries is made in accordance with Section 46 of the 2003 Act. The application is made by way of a Form A Appendix 1. The form must be returned to the Injuries Board with a fee of €50 imposed on the Claimant by the Injuries Board. Section 8 of the 2004 Act states the Application Form must be accompanied by a Letter of Claim, copies of correspondence relating to the claim, a medical report and any other relevant documentation. The official date of the making of an application under Section 11 of the 2003 Act (which is the date on which the clock stops for the Statute of Limitations) is the date on which the fully completed Form A and the information required by the Injuries Board under Section 11 of the Act, is acknowledged in writing as having been received by the Injuries Board. A total of 27,669 Applications for Personal Injury claims were received by PIAB in 2011 which was a 2.6% increase on 2010. 8
Under Section 8 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004, a Plaintiff is required in a personal injuries action to serve a notice in writing to the alleged wrongdoer, before the expiration of two months from the date of the cause of action, setting out the nature of the wrong alleged to have been committed by him. If a Plaintiff fails to do this, PIAB have the power to award cost penalties against the Plaintiff at the trial of the case.9
If there are a number of potential defendants, a letter of claim will become the O’Byrne letter. This letter will be sent out to each of the parties involved and seeks to decide to what extent each defendant are...