Personal Injury Claims: 3 Things You Need to Know

by admin on October 26, 2010

How is personal injury defined?

Simply put, the legal term ‘personal injury’ refers to harm caused to the body, mind or emotions (as opposed to property etc), so it includes physical or psychological damage, disease or illness. The injury must be caused by negligence of another party in order to justify a legal claim. Harm caused by accident – an incident which could not be reasonably foreseen or avoided, one for which nobody can or should be held accountable – cannot be considered under a personal injury claim. This is an important distinction to make, as it is easy to be convinced that personal injury claims can be made as a result of any injury. This attitude is certainly not helped by any myths of bizarre Health and Safety rulings. The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers also provides useful information to counteract false impressions of the personal injury system.

What is involved in a personal injury claim?

The kinds of injuries a personal injury claim might include are: those caused by car accidents, accidents at work (particular related to slipping or tripping, manual handling, stress or even diseases related to industry), injuries sustained on holiday or in the home, injuries caused by product defects, assault, and harm caused by medical negligence. If you’ve been injured, and the responsibility lies fully, or even partly, with a third party, then you could take action and seek compensation. As well as deciding you want to make a complaint or claim against the person or company responsible for your injury, there may be other factors involved in your need for compensation, such as any financial problems you might be facing (those incurred as result of incapacity or inability to work), or a need for counselling as a result of your injuries. Sustaining an injury as the result of an accident that wasn’t your fault can be traumatic and stressful, and may have a lasting effect which can cause you to be unfit for work or require extensive psychical or psychological therapy. Under these circumstances, compensation can be essential to your restoring your quality of life.

In relation to making a personal injury claim there are 3 keys things you should know, whatever the nature of your injury.

1.      Take immediate action. Where appropriate, report the incident to the Police (for example, if you have an injury that was sustained in a road accident), and to your insurance company. Report your injury to a doctor, even if it seems minor – it could become more serious and in the event of a claim being made you will need a doctor’s report. Moreover, it is vital that at the time the injury is sustained – be it the result of a traffic accident or a slip on a loose paving stone – that you record any details of the incident. This may include: noting down the time and date, recording any pertinent facts, taking photos, getting contact details of anyone who witnessed the incident, and also taking details of police or medical reports if applicable. These kinds of detail will be vital for any claim you make, and it is always better to record them when they are fresh in your mind. This way you will be able to relay the detail more accurately when you talk to a solicitor, and will help them build your case successfully. For further advice on what details you need contact the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

2.      Act sooner, rather than later. It is always advisable to take action following your claim sooner, as then the details of what is involved will be fresh in your mind. However, as personal injury claims are subject to the Limitation Act of 1980, there is also a time limit applicable to bringing any claim for compensation to court. For most cases, there is a three year limitation period (for any adult aged over 18; for children the three year limit commences on their 18th birthday) starting from the date of the incident. This limitation period means that if no proceedings have begun once three years after the accident has passed, any claim is ‘statute barred’ and compensation will no longer be achievable. There are certain exceptions to this limitation period, and it can be extended in certain circumstances (mostly relating to cases where symptoms take longer to appear, or if a claimant dies within three years of the incident) or even shortened (if the incident occurred on board a ship or aeroplane, for example).

3.      Get a solicitor involved. Whilst it is possible to make a claim through a Claims Assessor, or even to represent yourself in court over a personal injury compensation claim, it is much more advantageous to seek the advice and services of a solicitor with experience in personal injury law. For example, a Claims Assessor cannot claim compensation through the courts, and as a result won’t be able to secure as much compensation on your behalf. Furthermore, although Claims Assessors often operate on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, their charge is typically a percentage of whatever you are awarded. Taking legal action with the help of an experienced personal injury solicitor can secure a larger amount of compensation and although solicitor’s fees might seem daunting, many also operate under ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements, and as such their fees and expenses would typically be paid by the other side. An experienced personal injury solicitor has expertise in negotiating, in-depth knowledge of personal injury law and access to relevant information, so choosing to be represented by a solicitor greatly increases your chances of success, and the scope of compensation you could receive. A knowledgeable and skilled personal injury solicitor will be able to negotiate with insurance companies (who would profit from offering low compensation) and build your case whether it goes to trial or not. In the event of a trial, having the services of a personal injury lawyer is essential.

If you’ve suffered any personal injury – an injury at work or home, or have been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault – the best course of action is to find an experienced personal injury solicitor, who can hear the details of your case and offer you detailed advice on how to proceed. In choosing this option, you will protect yourself from being under-compensated, discredited or losing out through any legal mistakes on your part. For any personal injury claims in London, Bristol or the South West, Bristol-based Family Law film Battrick Clark are experienced personal injury solicitors, and offer ‘no win, no fee’ packages. Contact Battrick Clark directly for further information and advice.


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