Garda Compensation FAQ
- Who can apply?
Any serving member who has been injured. The member can be on or off duty. If the member was off duty and it was known to his assailant then the member is entitled to claim.
In the case of a fatal injury to a member his dependents can make a claim for compensation under the Act.
It is important to remember that “intent to injure” or recklessness as to the member suffering injury is an essential element of the claim. Before writing up a report concerning the events leading up to the injury the member should have regard to this important feature of the compensation claim.
Trainee guards must have completed phase IV of their training to qualify to apply.
- How do I apply?
The member can download the form from this website and return it fully completed to this office. We will then process the claim on your behalf.
- Three months have elapsed since the date of the incident, can I still apply?
The time limits are strictly enforced and will be extended only in the most exceptional of cases by the Minister for Justice. Some non-physical injuries due to post traumatic stress may take longer to manifest themselves and yet have the most serious of consequences. An application to extend time will have to be supported by written medical opinion which can be costly and no guarantee of success. However, the Minister does have some discretion and undue hardship may lead to an extension of the time limits on hardship grounds.
- Do I need a solicitor to make an application?
While the initial stages can be completed by a member eventually an authorisation to proceed to a Court Hearing will be granted and a solicitor engaged.
Our advice is to engage this office from the making of the application as the medical report gathering phase of the claim is essential to fully record and document all aspects of the claim.
- How long does it take for a decision?
The process leading to an authorisation issuing from the Department of Justice is slow due to the matters which have to be attended to before its issue. By far the slowest part of the process is the prognosis of the injury save in respect of injuries that heal quickly.
Many interim medical reports documenting the progress of the injury may have to be obtained generally at 6 monthly intervals. When the injuries have settled to the extent that a reasonable prognosis can be made by the medical team then the member is placed on a list to be seen by the Garda Chief Medical Officer.
Reports are also sought by the Department of Justice from the member’s Divisional office to ensure that the necessary element of intent to injure is supported by the written evidence contained in the Divisional file.
When the Department of Justice has collated the Divisional reports and the Chief medical Officers report an authorisation issues. It is important to note that it is the date from which all reports are received by the Department and the medical officer that applications are dealt with and not from the date of the injury.
- How do I get an appointment with the Garda Chief Medical Officer?
When the injuries have settled to the extent that a reasonably accurate medical prognosis can be made then an arrangement will be made for the member to be reviewed by the Chief Medical Officer. The Chief Medical Officer will have been supplied with all prior medical reports supplied by the member documenting the course of his injuries.
- What is the role of the Chief Medical Officer?
The role of the Chief medical Officer is to review all prior medical reports supplied by the member documenting the course of his injuries. The medical officer will note how the injuries were incurred. While querying the member on how the injuries were sustained the member should bear in mind that ”intent to injure” or recklessness as to the dangers involved are vital elements of the claim. The medical officer will review the treatment given the member’s current medical condition.
The medical officer has the member’s prior medical history since entering the force before during this medical appointment and can make notes if prior medical condition has any bearing on the current medical condition.
The prognosis given by the member’s own medical team will be reviewed. The medical officer is concerned that the member is fit and capable of performing his duties as a fit and able Garda. Furthermore, he will have regard to the dangers that Gardaí are exposed to in their daily work and how the prognosis might impact on that.
The Chief Garda Medical Officer will then forward his report to the Department of Justice. He will refrain from making any comment on whether to grant or refuse the issue of an authorisation with malice admitted.
- What is the role of the Garda Commissioner?
The role of the Garda Commissioner is delegated to the member’s Divisional office who supply the Department of Justice with a full report of the incident collating all statements made during the course of the investigation into the incident. In many incidents there will be follow up criminal charges laid against the assailant.
As the issue of intent or malice is an essential element in bringing a successful claim the report will include any matters that may indicate the member’s own responsibility in incurring the injury either by negligence or that the injuries were incurred accidentally and not related to any wilfully inflicted injury. The Divisional office will also have regard to the duties being performed by the member on the occasion and if such duties carried a “special risk”.
The report will refrain from making any recommendation regarding the issue of an authorisathion.
- What does the Department mean when it refers to ‘minor injury’?
The Act specifically provides that minor injuries are not within its scope. As the phrase is not defined differing interpretations have been taken over the years. Given the current state of finances it is fair to say that a much stiffer test is now being applied. During the initial tightening up phase a number of Judicial Reviews were taken to the High Court challenging the refusal of the Department of justice to issue an authorisation.
As a result of these challenges, some of which were successful, a greater understanding as to how the High Court would interpret the meaning of the word “minor” has emerged. These cases are referred to as the McGee and Merrigan cases. Currently the Department advises the Minister to issue an authorisation on the basis did the injuries heal up completely within a three month period following the sustaining of the injury. This is particularly enhanced if there is little or no chance of any adverse reaction to the injury sustained into the future.
The Minister in reaching his decision is mindful of the medical reports submitted by the member and the report of the Chief Medical Officer.
- What is ‘special risk’?
The phrase “special risk” is interesting in the context of the role that the Garda performs in society in general where it can be fairly said that each patrol performed or call answered places the member in danger. The term must then be distinguished from the regular exposure to danger potentially involved in most interactions with members of the public when called to assist.
Special risk then occurs when a serious breach of the public order is known to occur with a higher than normal likelihood of members receiving injury.
- What is a certificate of authorisation?
A Certificate of Authorisation is issued by the Minister following the receipt by the Department of Justice of the Divisional file and the Chief Medical Officer’s report. It enables the member to take the claim to the High Court safe in the knowledge that malice is admitted and that the injuries are non-minor in nature.
No legal argument is likely to occur at the hearing of the case and the Judge makes an award based on the medical evidence produced and the impact that the injuries have had on the member since sustaining the injury. The impact of the injuries may also include an account of their impact on the member’s family life and how the family have also been the victims due to the injuries received.
- What do I do when I receive a certificate of authorisation?
Following the issue of a Certificate of Authorisation the member should contact this office to process the claim if such consultation has not previously taken place.
This office has two months in which to launch proceedings in the High Court and file the relevant Affidavit sworn by the member. The Affidavit details how the injuries occurred, how intentional was the infliction of the injuries, the medical opinion on the injuries detailing them in accordance with the medical reports and how the injuries have affected both him and his family.
- Can I appeal the Minister’s decision if my application is refused?
As mentioned previous a number of Judicial Review proceedings were launched following the apparent change in policy on the part of the Minister in refusing cases which were of a “minor” nature.
However, if the Minister proposes refuring to issue an authorisation he will give
- What is the McGee Judgement?
In 1996 Mr. Justice Carney in a written judgment deemed a nose bleed which cleared up after 2 weeks as a “minor” injury as defined by the Garda Compensation Act 1941. Recently the Department of Justice has taken a much tighter definition of the word “minor” which this office has challenged successfully on a number of occasions. See above for the 3 month definition now generally practiced by the Department in making a decision whether or not to furnish an Authorisation Certificate. Mr. Justice Carney’s written judgment was reviewed by Mr. Justice Geoghegan in 1998 in the Merrigan Judgment.
- What is the Merrigan Judgement?
This office represented the then retired member when Judicial Review proceedings were taken against the Department of Justice decision to refuse to issue an Authorisation certificate to Gada Laurrence Merrigan for compensation for injuries received by the member while performing his duties. Mr. Justice Geoghegan in 1998 reviewed the written opinion of Mr. Justice Carney in the McGee case. Mr. Justice Geoghegan reviewed the earlier decision of Mr. Justice Carney and ruled that the Minister for Justice had to take alternate medical opinion into account and “consider the medical reports from both sides and is not entitled to form an opinion that the injuries were of a minor character if the opposite view would be reasonably open on the medical evidence furnished by the Applicant”. In Gda Merrigan’s case the Minister made his decision to refuse to issue an Authorisation certificate some 5 years after the incident. The Minister “ruled that the injuries were of a minor character and that they were not sustained in the course of the performance of a duty involving special risk and accordingly refused the application”.
Mr. Justice Geoghegan concluded“…I would still have to grant the Order of Certiorari because the Minister, in making an important decision affecting the Applicant, had to act in a quasi-judicial manner and clearly, in my view, breached the rules of natural justice by relying only on the Garda Surgeon's Report and not examining the medical evidence submitted on behalf of the Applicant.”