If you have been injured in a road accident, a work accident or an accident in a public place you may wish to bring a personal injuries claim seeking compensation against the wrongdoer. This may be the driver of another vehicle, your employer or a local authority.
I will briefly set out below some advice for any person who is injured in any accident as to how to protect your interests at the start of your case.
Road Accidents – it is very important at the scene to take photographs of the vehicles to show the extent of damage caused and also the location of the vehicles. These may need to be reviewed by a court later in your case. Insurance details of each party should also be taken and the information stored carefully along with the registration numbers of each vehicle. If a Garda has attended the scene you should make sure you get the Garda’s name and the address of the station where he/she is based.
Work Accidents – if you suffer an injury through a work accident you should ensure that you immediately fill out an accident report form and that you keep a copy of the accident report form that you give to your Employer. If there is CCTV footage of where the accident happened again you should request your Employer to make sure that the footage is not destroyed but is retained as you and your Solicitor may wish to review that CCTV footage in due course. If previous complaints have been made about an unsafe system of work or unsafe equipment you should ensure also that these complaints are recorded in writing. . If you have suffered a loss of earnings as a result of your accident again you should keep copies of your payslips and any payments received from the Department of Social Protection as these will be required to prove your loss of earnings claim. It is important also not to discuss the circumstances of your accident with any other employees in your workplace as your case is confidential and the only person it should be discussed with is your Solicitor who can liaise with your Employer if any significant issues arise regarding your claim.
Accidents in Public Places– if you have an accident on a public road or footpath you should immediately take photographs of where the accident occurred and report the accident to the relevant Local Authority. If there are any witnesses to the accident you should get their contact details as they may be required to complete a witness statement in due course. If the accident takes place in a supermarket or shopping centre again you must ensure that the accident is reported and that you get the name of the individual to whom the accident was reported to. If you see CCTV footage in the area where you had your accident request that the CCTV footage be retained by the owner/occupier of the shopping centre and not destroyed as it may be a key feature in you proving fault in your case.
All personal injury claims now, apart from claims arising from medical treatment, have to be registered with the injuriesboard.ie. This must be done within two years of the date of your accident. If it is not done your claim will be Statute barred. Personal injury claims, apart from road traffic assessment cases, are not straight forward. It is vital to act quickly and get legal advice from an experienced professional who knows all the pitfalls in dealing with these cases.