The High Court has ruled that a delay by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) in recording receipt of a claim does not prevent the injured person bringing a legal action.
Isis Figueredo sued Eamon McKiernan after a road accident in November 2004.Under the 2004 Civil Liability and Courts Act, the claim had to be brought within two years of the commencement of the legislation, that is by March 30, 2007.
Figueredo’s solicitors sent the claim to PIAB by registered post on March 29, but PIAB date-stamped the claim only on April 2. Counsel for the insurers pleaded that the case was statute-barred because the PIAB rules state that time stops running only when the claimant’s application ‘‘is acknowledged in writing as having been received by the board’’.
Miss Justice Elizabeth Dunne said that, if that was correct, Figueredo would be barred from bringing his action due to circumstances entirely outside his control.
‘‘Clearly, such a consideration could result in significant hardship for a plaintiff,” she said.
Since the application was posted properly on March 29, the judge said she saw no reason why it should not have been received the following day. The judgment has now been appealed to the Supreme Court.
Following the High Court judgment, a Dublin personal injuries solicitor said: ‘‘This case should not be seen as giving carte blanche to send in an application on the last day and take a chance. This was a case which, to some extent, turned on its facts and, of course, if the application had been sent back for correction or amendment, the case would have been statute-barred.
‘‘It is infinitely preferable to have a letter from PIAB before the statute runs out confirming that the case has been properly registered. Ideally, all applications should be made long before this stage.”
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