We specialise in acting for people who have been affected by life changing or ‘catastrophic’ injuries.
If you, or a loved one of yours, has unfortunately suffered from such an injury and that injury was caused by a criminal assault, then an application may be lodged with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal to receive financial compensation.
The Tribunal will assess the application and determine whether the injured victim is eligible for compensation under the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted.
There is no requirement for the assailant to have been arrested or detained by the Gardaí.
Lodging an Application
The injured person is called the Claimant. One of the first things a Claimant’s solicitor will need to do is obtain an expert report which positively supports the argument that injury arose as a result of that assault. The speciality of the expert/s will depend on the nature of that injury.
The Claimant’s solicitor should lodge the application with the Criminal Injuries Application Board within three months, although the Board can extend this period.
A report should be obtained from the Gardaí. The Tribunal will do likewise.
Broadly, there are three categories of reports that your solicitor will obtain for the purpose of building your application.
The first category of reports are those relating to liability & causation.
The second category of reports are medical reports. If appropriate, some of these reports may be obtained from your treating doctors e.g. your GP, your neurologist, your rehabilitation consultant. These reports are obtained for the purpose of detailing your current condition and your future prognosis from a medical perspective.
The third category of reports is quantum reports. These are the reports which your solicitor will use for the purpose of calculating the bulk of the value of your claim for compensation. Your solicitors will instruct a number of experts to assess your current needs and what your needs will look like moving into the future.
Quantum experts can include physiotherapists, occupational therapists, care consultants, housing experts, assistive technology experts, vocational assessors, psychologists, rehabilitation consultants etc. These experts will make a number of recommendations to help you live a more independent life moving into the future. For example, the housing expert may advise in relation to the costs of building a home to make it fully accessible. The nursing expert will make recommendations in respect of the number of private care hours you may require. The occupational therapist will advise in respect of your equipment needs and their associated costs. When looking towards the future, the vocational assessor will ascertain your future loss of earnings.
Finally, an actuary will review all of those quantum reports to calculate the total value of those future recommendations.
The costs that have been built up to date will be included in your claim. For example the hours put in by loved ones caring for you will be valued, in addition to your loss of earnings and any monies that you may have put into making adaptions to your home.
The Tribunal may obtain like for like quantum reports. This means that for every type of expert your solicitor sends you to, the Tribunal could arrange for you to see an expert of the same profession for them.
As you can probably tell by now, obtaining the appropriate expert reports are crucial for being successful and achieving favourable compensation.
Your solicitors will hire barristers or counsel on your behalf. You will likely have one junior barrister and one senior barrister. Your solicitors and barristers will work together as your legal team. Your counsel will advocate for you at the Tribunal hearing. The junior barrister prepares some of the legal submissions that may be required by the Tribunal.
It is crucially important for your solicitors to hire counsel on your behalf who are experienced in handling such claims, and who have an in-depth experience of dealing with complex catastrophic injury claims.
The decision of the Tribunal is first given in writing but inevitably this decision is appealed to a divisional sitting of three members at which you and your legal team will attend. There is no need for any expert to be at this hearing.
The Tribunal, since 1986, may not award you money for pain and suffering but only for out-of-pocket expenses which of course can be huge in such a case. The Tribunal does not award costs, so it is important to try and get an estimate from your solicitor as to the possible costs involved. On occasion the Tribunal awards the Claimant the cost of his/ her experts’ reports.
The Tribunal will be concerned to know your criminal background, if any, and your involvement in the assault, if any. The Tribunal can deduct (or fail to award) compensation depending on that history.
If you have been successful with your claim for compensation, you will receive a lump sum payment.
If you have full mental capacity and if you are over the age of 18 years, you can spend this money how you see fit.
If the Claimant is under the age of 18, then the funds are typically lodged in the High Court until the child turns 18 years. In the meantime, the child’s next of friend (typically a parent or guardian) will be permitted to take out monies to cover the child’s expenses and to make big purchases for housing and equipment.
Our clients often use the funds to build a fully accessible home, purchase an accessible car, pay for private care hours and private medical treatments. It allows them to purchase equipment to help them live more independent lives, to resume old hobbies or even take up new hobbies.
Advice should be secured from a tax expert to ring fence any monies awarded so that tax is not paid on any income that is generated by investments.
Immediate Steps to Take
Here are of the first steps that you should take if you are considering taking legal action in respect of your injury:
Choosing a Specialist Firm of Solicitors
Suffering from a catastrophic injury which arose from a criminal assault can be devastating not only for the person who was injured, but also for that person’s loved ones. It is often the case that the injured person was previously the sole or main provider in their home and they are now suddenly incapacitated and left without an income. Importantly, and aside from the sudden and unexpected financial burden the injury has created, it is often the case that the once independent person is now reliant on their family members for their care needs. This can place both a mental and physical toll on all involved.
It is therefore important that you engage solicitors who have a full understanding of the nature of the injuries and the impact they have both from the medical side of things and in terms of how they can affect the whole family.
Your solicitors must know who the leading experts are and be able to competently instruct them with all the relevant details so that you can ultimately obtain meaningful compensation to help you safeguard your future and to enable you to live a more independent life.
McMahon Goldrick Solicitors understand that clients who have suffered from catastrophic injuries have very specific needs and concerns. We purposefully maintain a very low number of files so that individual attention can be given to each client.
We have over 60 years’ combined experience and we only deal with catastrophic injuries so the specialist nature of our office allows us gently glide over hurdles that others may, with the best will in the world, procrastinate about.
Over the years, we have established professional connections with the top medics and expert witnesses who are involved with these types of cases.
Our clients are informed in “real time” of any developments and they get their case heard as soon as possible but without taking any shortcuts.
Without ever losing sight of the sensitivity of the injury, we go about our work in that empathetic and honest way, completely aware of how difficult and anxious having a catastrophic injury is. Clients often confide in us and share private matters with us. We respect that. We want to walk in the client’s shoes with them.
Please, as always, e mail or telephone us with any queries on a non-committal basis.