Spinal injury claim process in Ireland
If you or a member of your family have suffered a back or spinal injury, it can be devastatingly life-changing. The injury can increase healthcare costs, require new home adaptions, and possibly cause the inability to work.
What is Traumatic Spinal Injury?
Fractures to one or more vertebrae or an injury to the spinal cord can lead to permanent disability and chronic pain. Victims of traumatic spinal injuries also face long-term complex care needs.
Causes of a spinal injury
Each year, approximately 2,500* people are injured or diagnosed with a traumatic spinal injury caused by severe road traffic accidents, falls, accidents in the workplace, and also while engaging in sports or other activities.
Effects of a spinal injury
A back or spinal injury can be devastating and life-changing, resulting in rising healthcare costs, possible requirements for home adaptions, and possibly the inability to work. Furthermore, the difficult recovery process can be even more stressful for you and your loved ones.
How Coleman Legal can assist you in obtaining compensation
The highly experienced team at Coleman Legal will discuss your case with you and advise whether you may have a potential spinal injury claim against another party. If you have a potential spinal injury claim, we will, on your instructions:
- Instruct technical experts as necessary to thoroughly investigate your case.
- Obtain your medical records.
- Prepare and submit an application to the Injuries Board on your behalf.
- Prepare and issue court proceedings if the case is not resolved through the Injuries Board.
- Manage your case through the litigation process, supporting you throughout.
What are the different types of spinal injury?
Spinal injuries can be described as complete or incomplete.
Complete Spinal Injury
Complete spinal cord injuries are rare, but they are more serious. A Complete injury results in total Paralysis below the primary level of the injury. Complete spinal cord injuries fall into four categories:
- Cervical Vertebrae (7): C1 – C7 Spinal Injury – Head, hands, shoulder, arms, neck, and diaphragm.
- Thoracic Vertebrae(12): T1 – T12 Spinal Injury – Chest muscles, abdomen, and muscles in the back.
- Lumbar Vertebrae (5): L1 – L5 Spinal Injury – Hip, thigh, feet, and knee muscles.
- Sacrum (5): S1 – S5 Spinal Injury – Bladder and bowel.
Incomplete Spinal Injury
More than 60% of all spinal cord injuries are incomplete. Medical experts are trained to respond appropriately to this damage to avoid further complications. Incomplete spinal injuries are classified into three categories:
- Anterior Cord Syndrome
- Central Cord Syndrome
- Brown-Sequard Syndrome
What are the usual causes of spinal injuries?
There are several reasons for Spinal Injuries. These include:
- Falling from a height
- Violent assaults or stabbings
- Road traffic accidents
- Negligent spinal surgery
- Sporting accidents
- Failure or delay in diagnosing Cauda Equina Syndrome
- Electrical accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
Do I have grounds for a spinal injury claim?
There are several grounds on which a Spinal Injury claim can be made
1. You were owed a duty of care by another party (for example, as a road-user, employee, patient, or visitor to a premises)
2. That duty of care was breached, i.e., through negligence
3. You have suffered an injury as a result of that breach of duty/ negligence
The spinal injury claim application process in Ireland
1. Contact our spinal injury solicitor:
Our spinal Injury Claim Solicitors are experts in advising clients on how to make these claims. Many people use a solicitor to aid with this application process as a lot of paperwork and filing are required, and our expert team is on hand to make the process as smooth as possible.
2. The PIAB Application:
The next step is to make an application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). If your personal injury claim concerns anything other than medical negligence, some assaults, and some cases of entirely psychological injury, then your claim can be brought through PIAB. Examples of claims that PIAB covers include:
3. Submitting information and documents to PIAB:
Your solicitor will obtain evidence, medical reports, and other expert reports required. And submits these documents to the Board for Assessment.
4. Consent to assess the claim:
Once the application is made, PIAB issue a formal notification of claim to the defendant(s). The defendant(s) must indicate within 90 days whether or not they consent or not to the assessment of the claim. If the defendant consents, then PIAB will proceed to assess the claim. If they decline to have the case assessed, the PIAB will issue an Authorisation to allow the claimant to issue court proceedings.
5. Claim assessment time:
If PIAB is assessing the claim, this will usually take about 9 months. They will then issue their Assessment of your claim, this amount reflects general and special damages awarded in respect of your claim. If the Assessment is accepted by both parties, the PIAB will issue an Order to Pay. The Order to Pay has the same status as an Order of the Court, and must be discharged by the defendant(s) within 10 days. A settlement cheque will then be issued to the claimant.
If the Assessment is rejected by either party, an Authorisation will be granted by PIAB to bring court proceedings.
How much compensation can I receive for a spinal injury in Ireland?
How much compensation you receive for a personal injury claim is dictated by two legally binding documents known as:
The “Book of Quantum” and
The recently published Personal Injuries Guidelines by the Judicial Council of Ireland.
The Book of Quantum dictates how much compensation you are owed if your Authorisation was received from PIAB prior to the 21st of April 2021. In all other cases, compensation in respect of general damages is assessed with the aid of the Judicial council’s Personal Injuries Guidelines.
The Book of Quantum sets out general guidelines as to the amounts that may be awarded or assessed in Personal Injury Claims. The guidelines are divided into sections depending on what category of injury was suffered, e.g., head injuries, neck injuries, back injuries and spinal fractures, upper limb injuries, lower limb injuries, and body and internal organs. The Book of Quantum sets out 4 steps to assess what compensation is appropriate for the suffered injury. These steps are as follows:
- Identify the category of injury
- Assess the severity of the injury (through medical reports and records)
- Research the value range
- Consider the effect of multiple injuries
The Personal Injuries Guidelines were adopted by The Judicial Council on the 6th of March 2021. Similar to the Book of Quantum, this legal document sets out guidelines for assessing compensation in respect of general damages. The general principles for this assessment centre on three criteria:
- Awards of damages must be fair and reasonable to both the claimant and the defendant(s)
- Awards must be proportionate to the injuries sustained
- Awards must be compared on a scale of injuries that are both of a lesser and greater magnitude
One of the most substantial differences brought about by this update is that the average level of damages awarded has been reduced. The new guidelines have, however, provided more detail and more explanation for claimants, which is overall a welcomed change to the process of making a personal injury claim.
Statute of limitations for a spinal injury claim
Generally, the time limit to bring legal proceedings for a spinal injury claim is two years from the date you first become aware you were injured due to an accident/negligent act done to you.
There are, however, exceptions to the application for a spinal injury claim. If someone is under 18, the two-year period does not commence until their 18th birthday.
Also, in cases where a person does not know, they have been injured at first, and they have taken all steps to find out if they are injured, then the two-year period may not begin until they have established that they are injured in some way.
Spinal Injury Support Group
SII is the only support and service agency for people who have sustained spinal cord injuries and their families. They provide a nationwide person-centered service to assist people in engaging fully in society following their injury.
Choosing a spinal injury solicitor
If you have been involved in an accident or suffered an injury at the hands of another person, we would advise all persons to contact our personal injury claim solicitors at the earliest available opportunity.
We represent clients in a variety of personal injury claims; road traffic accidents, workplace injury, serious injury, medical negligence, and public liability claims. Please take some time to browse our website to learn more about the services we offer as a personal injury solicitors practice in Dublin.
If you want to take legal action over a personal injury, you should consult our injury solicitors, who are members of the Law Society’s injury accreditation scheme and clinical negligence accreditation scheme. Contacted us at:
Coleman Legal LLP
84 Talbot Street, Dublin 1
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Personal injury claim important FAQS
What are the differences between General / Special Damages in a personal injury claim?
General damages are damages in respect of the pain and suffering sustained during the incident.
Special damages are damages in respect of out-of-pocket costs, e.g., medical expenses, loss of earnings, and vehicle damage costs.
What legal fees will I likely pay for a personal injury claim?
It is hard to say how much your legal fees will cost as each case is individual and requires a different amount of reports and records to be gathered. The likely costs would be:
- PIAB Application Form
- Medical Records / Reports
- Professional Legal Service Fee
- Stamp Duty
- Commissioner of Oath Fees
- Counsel Fees
- Miscellaneous Outlays
These fees are fully or partly recoverable from the defendant(s) where the court finds them liable, and settlement is agreed.
How long does it take to process a personal injury claim?
It usually takes about nine months from the date first applied to PIAB on the basis that the defendant(s) has accepted liability for the incident and has agreed to the PIAB process.
How to make a personal injury claim if you’re under 18?
If you’re under 18 and want to make a personal injury claim, you will have to assign a ‘next friend’ to represent you.
This person is usually a parent or guardian, and they will have to make the claim on your behalf, following the same steps as outlined above.
Where do I go for a claim of medical negligence?
Medical Negligence Claims are not assessed by PIAB. If you’re making a claim of medical negligence, you will have to issue legal proceedings from the get-go.
Read more on our Medical Negligence Page.
What is PIAB? The Personal Injuries Application Board (PAIB)
Often referred to as PIAB (or the Injuries Board), the board was set up in 2004 by the Government to specifically deal with personal injury claims for compensation from anyone who has been in an accident and suffered an injury.
A person cannot issue proceedings until they have first made a valid application to the Injuries Board.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with RE.8 of SI 518 of 2002.