As Pierse Fitzgibbon deals with a large volume of personal injury compensation claims, I am constantly being asked by clients to explain exactly what PIAB (or the Injuries Board as it used to be known) is and the procedures involved with it.
The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) is a Government quango set up in 2003 by Mary Harney under pressure from Insurance Companies attempting to limit compensation payments to injured persons. The reasoning at the time was that this would reduce insurance premiums. It has, of course, done nothing of the kind. It has just added another layer of bureaucracy to bringing a personal injury claim.
Function of PIAB
Since the introduction of PIAB persons injured in road traffic accidents, accidents at work or trip-and-fall type accidents cannot take proper Court proceedings unless they initially lodge a claim with, and obtain an Authorisation from, PIAB except for claims such as medical negligence or Garda Compensation claims.
How it works
When an application for compensation is lodged, PIAB must assess the claim within a period of twelve months. PIAB pays no compensation –it merely assesses what it believes the compensation for the injury and loss should be. The problem is that, very often, a final prognosis in respect of the claimant’s injuries cannot be made within that 12 month period –especially in serious injury cases.
The injured person may accept or reject the assessment as can the insurance company involved. Only if both parties accept the assessment does the amount of the assessment become payable by the Insurance Company and the claim is complete. If either side rejects the PIAB assessment then an Authorisation is issued by PIAB and proper Court proceedings for compensation may then be taken.
PIAB, is therefore, a hurdle the injured person must jump to get to Court.
Tips and traps
There are strict time limits for bringing a claim for compensation. While the claim is with PIAB those time limits are suspended. However, there can be problems if the person against whom the claim is being made is not properly identified. The person (or persons) named on the PIAB application are the only persons against whom an Authorisation will be issued. If the wrong person is named (for instance it may be a company rather than an individual) this will lead to difficulties later. Furthermore, if a claimant rejects the PIAB assessment this may have implications later in Court if the compensation awarded is less than the amount of the PIAB assessment although this rarely happens. Consequently, legal advice immediately after an accident is essential to ensure all aspects and technicalities of the claim are covered.
When in doubt seek advice