Legal Issues after Brain Injury – Your Questions Answered
I recently teamed up with the Limerick branch of Headway Ireland, as part of Brain Awareness Week, and had the privilege to speak to victims of brain injury and their families about “Legal Issues after Brain Injury” at the Health Hub in Limerick.
Did you know that it is estimated that between 9,000 and 11,000 people annually in Ireland sustain a traumatic brain injury with a further 7,000 being diagnosed with a stroke. Additionally, it is estimated that there are up to 30,000 people in Ireland between the ages of 16-65 living with long-term problems following brain injury. Here are some of the common questions posed to me by victims of brain injury and their families at the recent Headway event.
Do I or a loved one have a case?
During an initial consultation or home visit, one of our expert brain injury solicitors will critically assess the merits of your case and establish whether there is a stateable case. The civil burden of proof is on a balance of probabilities, which means that it is more than likely that an event occurred in a certain way. However, we fight fearlessly on behalf of our clients to achieve the best possible outcome no matter what the circumstances and it is not unusual for Sellors to take on complex and extremely difficulty cases with a less than 50% prospect of success.
What circumstances can give rise to a brain injury case?
Unfortunately, brain injuries can arise in a number of different ways. Traumatic brain injuries can be caused in serious road traffic accidents, falls from height, accidents at work, sporting injuries and assaults. Non-traumatic brain injuries are often a result of stroke, tumours, haemorrhages, infectious diseases and hypoxic brain injury. Finally, brain injuries can also occur because of medical negligence or malpractice.
Do I have to bring a case within a certain time?
The Statute of Limitations sets out strict time limits within which you need to bring a case. The deadlines differ depending on the area of law and include two years for negligence, six years for assault or battery and three years for defective products. Special rules apply to minors under 18 years of age and individuals who lack capacity to understand that they are able to pursue a case for compensation. It is advisable to seek expert legal advice as soon as possible following a brain injury as cases of this nature are complex and require early expert investigation and opinion on three separate fronts (1) liability; (2) rehabilitation; and (3) quantum.
What type of compensation may I receive?
There are two categories of financial compensation, namely general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity and special damages, which cover financial costs, both past and into the future, for example loss of earnings and specialist care needs. A feature of brain injury cases is that there may be significant future costs involved, such as future care and assistance, mobility and housing needs to mention but a few.
Who is the Defendant?
The defendant is the person or parties responsible for causing the brain injury. There may be multiple defendants. When taking a case, we need to determine whether there is a valid policy of insurance in place to pay out settlement damages. In terms of road traffic accidents, the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland has a fund of last resort if the defendant is untraced or uninsured. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal will pay out-of-pocket expenses and loss of earnings caused as a direct result of violent crime or serious injury.
What will the legal costs be?
The legal costs associated with a brain injury/medical negligence action depend on the unique circumstances of each client and every case. Your solicitor is obliged to set out, in a section 68 letter, the costs involved in funding your case. At Sellors, we will tell you at the outset what our fees will be so that there are no surprises at the conclusion of the case.
Am I entitled to social welfare or an allowance?
Depending on the severity and type of injury, there are a number of benefits that could be available to you and your family, such as illness benefit, invalidity pension, occupational injuries benefit, housing adaptation grants and various carers benefits including annual respite grant.
Why choose Keating Connolly Sellors?
Our serious and catastrophic injury team are available 24/7 to assist with emergencies or concerns. We seek to provide clients with access to high quality medical care and support to enable the person to regain his/her quality of life, increase their independence & provide peace of mind and financial security into the future.
Our legal team offers ongoing support for the injured person and his/her family as the case progresses through each stage and beyond. We robustly seek interim payments to support the injured person and his/her family with their rehabilitation, housing and ongoing therapy and support needs. We are there for you as long as you need us, providing aftercare support long after the settlement of your case.
Ronan Hynes is a Partner at Keating Connolly Sellors and has extensive expertise in serious injury and medical negligence. He is renowned for a personal, sensitive, yet uncompromising, approach in pursuit of redress for victims of serious and catastrophic injuries. If you or a loved one have suffered a brain injury and want specialist legal advice, please contact Ronan Hynes for a no obligation consultation, at [email protected] or call +353 (0)61 414 355 or +353 (0)61 432 348.
The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. We advise people to always seek specific expert advice for their individual circumstances.