What is an O’Byrne Letter?
Simply put, The O’Byrne letter in Ireland is a letter of claim which is sent by a plaintiff’s solicitor to two or more negligent parties involved in a personal injury compensation claim. This letter (which replaces the standard “letter of claim”) is legally required to be sent within two months of the “cause of action” under Section 8 of the 2004 PIAB Act to set out the nature of the negligent action alleged to have been committed by the possible defendants and to inform the alleged wrongdoers that they will be hearing from the Injuries Board Ireland with a Formal Notice.
However, unlike the general letter of claim, the O’Byrne letter must address the issue of liability as between the defendants, who will then have to decide amongst themselves who was responsible (or indeed “more” responsible) for the incident in which the plaintiff sustained injuries or damage, and therefore who was liable, or “more” liable.
Contents of an O’Byrne Letter
Standard details such as the plaintiff’s name and address and brief details of the subject accident would be included in The O’Byrne Letter in Ireland. It would also state that the accident in question occurred because of the negligence of the recipient and/or the negligence of one, another of numerous potential defendants but that the plaintiff cannot say who is to blame.
The letter will request that the recipient admit liability within a specific length of time and that they make a proposal to compensate the plaintiff. A warning will follow, that if the recipient fails to admit liability, or neglects to propose compensation, an application will be made to the Injuries Board Ireland.
Another warning will be included, that if court action becomes necessary, the O’Byrne letter itself could be used to fix the unsuccessful defendant(s) with costs payable to the defendants who are found to have not been responsible for the accident. Indemnity will be requested from the recipient as regards expenses to be paid for the unnecessary or aborted court proceedings against any of the possible respondents who will not take part in the Injuries Board evaluation, or those who reject the amount evaluated.
The recipient will also be warned that in the absence of indemnity, the plaintiff will attempt to recover these expenses in court proceedings separate from the action concerning the personal injury claim, and that the letter will be used to fix the negligent party with the costs of such proceedings.
It should be noted that in cases involving multiple negligent parties where The O’Byrne Letter in Ireland is sent to determine who is “most” responsible or who caused the greater damage or injury to the victim of an accident, the plaintiff should not attempt to prove blame or even debate over this issue. The matter is purely for the respective defendants to discuss amongst themselves.
Each personal injury compensation claim in Ireland stands alone. If you have been involved in an accident that concerns more than one negligent party and you believe that you have a potential personal injury claim, it is highly recommended that you engage with a solicitor at the first possible opportunity.