If you have suffered a workplace accident and are bringing a personal injury claim* for compensation, or are considering it, you may be apprehensive about the details of your case being made public.
Perhaps you are concerned about your ‘dirty linen’ being ‘washed in public’? Worried that your colleagues or co-workers will find out the amount of the pay-out you will receive? Is this putting you off making a personal injury claim*?
If so, you may be reassured to hear that only compensation awards made by a judge in open court are in the public domain – typically less than 5% of all cases.
All compensation claims* for workplace accidents are first of all subject to an Injuries Board assessment. The Injuries Board is an independent statutory body set up under the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003; its role is to assess how much compensation an injured party should receive.
If both parties (employee and employer) agree on the amount of compensation determined by the Injuries Board, an order to pay will be issued and the case will go no further. If your claim* is concluded at this stage, only you and your employer will be notified of the amount of the assessment made. However, if either party rejects the Injuries Board assessment, then the claim* could go to court.
At this point, it is worth pointing out that the vast majority of cases never actually make it to court. Instead, it is most likely that an out-of-court settlement is reached by direct negotiation between the two parties’ legal representatives. Even if a trial date has been set, most cases are settled before being seen in court.
The terms of any settlement reached are confidential – no-one will be told the amount of the pay-out other than the two parties involved, and you are not under any obligation to tell anyone.
High Court Settlement
In the unlikely event that a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached by agreement, your case for compensation for a workplace accident may go to full trial. The Irish High Court has unlimited power to award damages, so the amount may be very high. If a compensation claim* is put before a judge for determination, the amount of compensation awarded will be declared in open court.
With well over 90% of all cases dealt with before they reach court proceedings, there is no undue cause to worry. No central register for work-related claims* exists, and neither the fact that you brought a claim*, let alone whether or not it was successful and how much you were awarded, will ever become public knowledge for the vast majority of compensation claims*, unless you yourself choose to divulge the information.
Mike James is an independent legal blogger. He has been working with McCarthy & Co, a specialist personal injury solicitor based in Cork, Ireland, who have provided advice and guidance on the legal regulation aspects of the above article.
* In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.