In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement

If you are involved in a Road Traffic Accident and if you were injured and have suffered losses as a result of that accident, you are entitled to be compensated for those injuries and losses. Up until recently it was your Solicitor who would act on your behalf in this regard. Your Solicitor would take instructions from you, negotiate and communicate with the relevant third parties (Insurance Company/Defendant/other Agent). In the event that your Solicitor was unable to negotiate adequate compensation on your behalf proceedings would be issued in the relevant Jurisdiction (District/Circuit/High Court) and the matter would be brought before the Courts. It was your Solicitors job to gather in all the evidence relevant to the case, deal with the Garda and in particular take up copies of the Garda Abstract (Report) in the matter, deal with your Medical Practitioners and analyse the Medical Reports furnished by them, instruct the appropriate Counsel where necessary and ensure that the proceedings move through the Courts in a professional and proper manner. This ultimately led to fair and adequate compensation being paid to the injured party for their pain, loss and suffering resulting from the accident.

Under the new system brought in under the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 a Plaintiff must now establish, prove and bring their own case before PIAB and essentially act on their own behalf. An injured persons application must be made to PIAB and they will assess the case of that person and award compensation resulting from those investigations. Essential difference between the old system and the PIAB system is that a Plaintiff is no longer automatically entitled to legal representation before the Board and is not awarded any compensation for the cost they may incur should they decide to hire professional help to assist them with their application. A Plaintiff must now gather in all their own Medical Reports deal with all the complex issues arising from the comments made therein and in particular deal with bringing an application before a Board of professional people even though they feel unqualified to do so.

It is recommended by our office and indeed by the Law Society of Ireland that even though you may not be compensated for any payments made to your Solicitor, an injured party should contact their Solicitor and ask for their assistance in preparation of their case. Your Solicitor will have many years experience in preparing this case and often the time and cost taken in hiring an expert to look after the matter for you will guarantee an adequate compensation award. We believe this will more than compensate any cost made to your Solicitor. Obviously, PIAB have attempted to eliminate the lawyers entirely from the procedure. This may seem a very attractive prospect to some parties however it is essential to remember that your Solicitor is there is to protect your interests and to be your professional adviser in the face of a very professional PIAB Assessment Board. Personally, we feel in Flanagan Solicitors that your right to equal representation has been seriously diminished by virtue of the fact that your Solicitor cannot attend with you at these Assessment Boards. We would hope no person would ever have to make a claim for personal injuries but in the event that you have to it would most likely be once in your lifetime: is it fair that a client should be asked to prepare a professional case and answer to a professional body on this one occasion without the assistance of their Solicitor who has many years experience equivalent to the persons sitting on PIAB?

When the matter is brought before PIAB it is at the discretion of the Defendants or their Insurance Company to refuse or accept liability for the claim brought by you. If PIAB refuse to accept liability they will then issue a certificate to you which will allow you to revert to the Court system. This may occur up to twelve months after you have taken your initial claim and essentially put you back at the starting blocks. After the certificate has issued you will then go to your Solicitor and your Solicitor will begin the process of bringing the matter before the Courts.

An Insurance Company or a Defendant may also refuse to accept the recommendation of PIAB. Essentially this means that when an Insurance Company or a Defendant may also refuse to accept the recommendation of PIAB. Essentially this means that when an Insurance Company or a Defendant feel the compensation being awarded by PIAB is to high the matter will then revert to the Courts. Again serious delays are incurred here.

You as a Plaintiff may of course also refuse to accept the recommendations of PIAB and seek to revert to the Court system. In our view the only way you will know whether or not you have been sufficiently compensated is by contacting your Solicitor, who is qualified to assess such matters.

As you may be aware from the Media the High Court has recently stated in a Judgement that PIAB must now communicate with Solicitors who apply to them on behalf of their clients. Heretofore PIAB would have refused to communicate directly with a Plaintiff's Solicitor. This was seen to have jeopardised the Plaintiff's right to equal representation. You may contact your Solicitor to handle your entire matter up to the point where it would go before PIAB. This would mean that your Solicitor will gather together all the necessary reports, advices and proofs to ensure that you have put the best case forward.

If you have been misfortunate enough to be involved in an accident which has caused you loss or personal injury you should first seek adequate medical advice and treatment and thereafter contact your Solicitor to discuss your options.

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