It is a sad fact of modern Ireland that common assaults and unwarranted physical attacks are an all too frequent occurrence. The question that lawyers are most often asked is;
“I have been the victim of an assault. Am I entitled to compensation?”
The answer to this is yes and no. Which is not particularly satisfactory, but the reality is that Ireland’s laws with regard to compensation for assault are somewhat unusual and out of kilter with most other European countries.
To enquire about assault claims or other personal injury issues, contact Roddy Tyrrell, publisher of Lawyer.ie & Principal of Tyrrell Solicitors.
To arrange a consultation by phone or in person, contact him using the enquiry form or call (01)6671476.
The law was subsequently amended and tightened up considerably. This was due to (mainly one suspects) an effort to reduce the State’s liability to bogus conspiratorial claims – whereby basically someone’s mate would give the other a black eye and both would then secretly share the proceeds of the subsequent claim award.
There are a number of anomalies in the current legislation whereby for example you may not claim under this scheme if you share the same household as the assailant. Nor indeed can you claim if the incident occurs in the context of a road traffic situation e.g. if you were deliberately rammed by another vehicle.
Death or catastrophic injuries
The State compensation scheme can however be used as ‘a last resort’ where the assault in question results in an instantaneous fatality or total incapacitation. In this scenario, relatives of the victim can be awarded out-of-pocket expenses and some compensation for mental distress from the State.
Less serious common assault
Whilst the law differs for Gardaí, essentially anyone else who claims compensation from the State under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is only entitled to the expenses incurred as result of the assault (this can include retrospective loss of earnings and medical expenses).
This means that damages for pain and suffering or disfigurement which usually can comprise up to eighty per cent or more of the total award for other injury claims types are not payable by the State. Nevertheless, in certain circumstances, this could be an appreciable amount, so you should talk to a reputable personal injury solicitor about your case.
Taking a civil action
It is open to you to take a civil action against the perpetrator of a violent assault upon your person. If the latter has already been convicted of the offence and papers can be served upon him in an known abode, it may be easier to pursue – albeit but from a financial perspective the exercise may be fruitless if the person in question is impecunious or at least has no sanctionable financial assets.
In other words you won’t get blood out of a stone! However if it is known that your assailant has a good income or identifiable assets other than a family home, a civil action might be a viable proposition.
These claims are usually taken against the corporate entity (i.e. the pub/nightclub, festival organizer or the security firm which employs the alleged assailant in question). Most of these business will have insurance to cover such as eventuality.
The civil action is normally taken on the basis that the security employee(s) in question did not have adequate training and/or that the training they received was not adhered to thus rendering their employer negligent.
Like any civil case, proof must be established that on the basis of probability that unwarranted and unreasonable force was used by a security employee that was tantamount to assault.
If you believe you have been assaulted in such a manner, you should do the following;
Report the incident to the Gardai immediately.
Seek admission for medical attention immediately at a hospital.
Where possible seek the names and details of any witnesses.
Report the incident to the operators of the venue or establishment, only after having informed the Gardaí and them having investigated and secured evidence such as CCTV footage if applicable.
Contact a solicitor regarding your potential claim, before discussing it with any other party.