Covid 19 PIAB AH 1

Ailbhe Hanmore, Associate Solicitor at KOD Lyons and Rory Knight, legal intern, look at how personal injury applications have been affected by the Covid19 public emergency.

The primary concern of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) is to ensure that personal injuries claims are assessed quickly and fairly, without accruing unnecessary litigation overheads.1

Furnishing PIAB with a medical report is an important step towards proving injury and valuing a claim. It provides practitioners with a degree of context concerning the nature, extent of, and prognosis for a Claimant’s injury.

As the unprecedented Covid-19 situation continues to develop in Ireland, the legal system must continually evolve to adapt to the ongoing restrictions and uncertainty.

In consideration of the difficulty faced by practitioners in obtaining medical reports from doctors in these challenging times, PIAB have introduced interim arrangements to facilitate the submission of online applications without medical reports.2 In doing so, PIAB have temporarily waived the requirement for a medical report from a treating doctor (Form B) when submitting a claim through the PIAB Online Solicitors Portal.

The statutory limitations period in respect of most personal injuries action is a period of two years from the date of the injury.3 Submitting claims to PIAB serves the purpose of stopping the statutory limitation period running under Rule 3(3) of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Rules, 2019.4

PIAB instruct that practitioners submitting a claim through the Solicitors Portal should click the ‘yes’ option when asked to upload a medical report and upload a letter in lieu of the report explaining that a report has been commissioned and will be forwarded to PIAB on receipt. 5

The Law Society and PIAB strongly encourage the use of the PIAB Solicitors’ Portal in-light of ongoing restraints. It is a secure, web-based platform where practitioners can access information to their client’s claims and correspond with PIAB.

Benefits to practitioners using the Solicitors’ Portal include inter alia, they access to up-to-date client information, the facility to monitor the progress of claim applications, the ability to speedily upload documents and automated acknowledgement of the statute-stopped date on submission of application.6 Above all else, the Solicitors’ Portal is a cost-effective approach to processing personal injuries claims. Coupled with reduced administrative and paper costs, the application fee for a claim submitted through the Solicitors Portal is €45 as compared to the €90 fee on new applications submitted by post.7

Recent developments do not suggest a willingness on the part of Respondents to settle cases in the absence of objective medical evidence. Rather, they provide an avenue for practitioners to submit personal injuries claims to PIAB, in a fast and cost-efficient manner whilst avoiding having potential personal injury claims rendered statute barred as a result of the ongoing stress on the Irish healthcare system due to COVID- 19.

While PIAB asserts that it will revert to normal operating procedures once the current difficulties pass, this is undoubtedly one of many, welcome, adjustments to legal procedure in Ireland necessary to cope in a time of enormous uncertainty.

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