If you have been involved in an accident that was not your fault and are considering claiming compensation, you most likely have some questions about personal injury claims.
In this guide, we’ll answer some of the most common concerns in this area of litigation from the kinds of accidents you can claim for, the time limit on making a claim, if you need legal representation and much more.
In short, this guide you will provide a complete overview of the personal injury claims process and how you can strengthen your case for a valid claim.
What Is A Personal Injury Claim?
A personal injury claim is a legal dispute where someone suffers physical, mental or emotional harm due to acts of negligence, recklessness or misconduct of others.
The lawsuit is typically launched against an at-fault party accused of being legally responsible for the injury and damage caused. Those liable parties can be a person, business, corporation or even a government agency.
If held liable, the accused party is legally bound to compensate the victim for expenses incurred due to the accident.
Which Kinds Of Accidents Can I Claim Compensation For?
You may sustain a personal injury in a wide variety of situations. However, below are some of the most common examples of accidents that result in a claim for financial reimbursement.
1) Road Accidents:
Traffic collisions can involve cars, vans, cyclists, and even motorcycle riders. Whether you are the driver, a pedestrian or passenger, it is possible to claim for compensation if the accident was not your fault.
2) Slips, Trips, And Falls:
Don’t be so quick to blame yourself if you fall and injure yourself in a public place. The local council should prevent tripping hazards by keeping pavements well maintained, while business owners are obliged to ensure their premises are safe.
3) Accidents At Work:
Many cases of personal injury stem from accidents at work. Your employer is responsible for providing a safe working environment. That may include making sure staff have proper training, well-maintained equipment/premises and the necessary protective gear.
If you are injured whilst carrying out your work duties, you could be eligible for worker’s compensation. You can also make a claim if you were subsequently dismissed from work after an accident that was not your fault.
4) Medical Malpractice Cases:
You can take legal action against medical or healthcare professionals who deviate from standard treatment practices and, as a result, caused you harm. Medical malpractices can take many forms, but most cases are either due to omissions or medical negligence.
A few examples can include (but are not limited to) and inadequate or misdiagnosis, failure to obtain informed consent, healthcare worker fatigue, as well as surgical, childbirth, and medication errors.
5) Animal Attacks:
From domestic dog bites to attacks at zoos, pet shops, sanctuaries and show farms, personal injuries caused by animal attacks are not uncommon. Victims of such accidents can include people who work with the animals, or even spectators and innocent bystanders. Regardless of the situation, you are entitled to make an animal attack claim if you incur an injury because of someone else’s negligence.
6) Defective Product Accidents:
Manufacturers owe consumers a duty of care in making sure their products are safe to use. You can file a defective products claim against a manufacturer, retailer, or another party in the supply chain for offering substandard goods that lead to an unavoidable injury.
Do I Have A Personal Injury Case?
Personal injury claims try to establish fault across four main elements.
- Firstly, the liable party must owe you a legal duty of care.
- Secondly, there has to be a breach of this obligation.
- Thirdly, you need to prove that the actions or inactions of the accused caused you to have an accident and/or injury.
- Finally, demonstrate that you suffered personal and financial loss due to the harm inflicted.
The easiest way to find out whether you have a valid claim is to contact a claims advisor or personal injury solicitor. A legal expert in this field will be able to assess your case and advise whether it is worth pursuing.
Can I Claim Personal Injury If It Was My Fault?
Well, this is a common concern amongst people who think that they may have contributed to an accident that led to an injury. Whether you are eligible for compensation depends on your degree of fault. It is highly unlikely you would have a case if you were entirely to blame.
However, there are some cases where more than one party is potentially liable for an accident. For example, you may be partly to blame for a road collision. In such a case, liability is split between both drivers and you can only claim compensation for the percentage found not to be your fault.
Loss adjusters may investigate the circumstances surrounding how an accident happened to apportion blame. If the insurance companies do not agree who is at fault and to what extent, the matter may need to go to court for a judge to determine.
Are There Timelines For Filing Personal Injury Claims?
Different jurisdictions have varying statutes of limitation (or laws) that establish how much time injured parties have to file a claim for compensation. This is known as ‘the limitation period’.
In the United Kingdom, claimants should commence legal proceedings within 3-years from the date of an accident or when they first discovered the injury. Not adhering to the set timeline will result in losing the right to claim.
However, for minors (those under the age of 18 at the time of the incident) the time limitation is a bit different. A parent or guardian can claim for personal injury on behalf of the child, but the limitation period is 3-years from when the child reaches their 18th birthday, which effectively means a claim can be made at any time before he or she turns 21. There are some specific exceptions to this, but it is the general position.
Also, a court has the discretion to extend or even waive the three-year limit if it deems there have been special circumstances. For instance, exceptions may be allowed if the injured party suffered psychological trauma due to a brain injury that impaired their ability to personally make a claim within the usual time limit.
What Can I Do To Aid My Case?
Before commencing formal proceedings for personal injury, there are a few things you can do to strengthen your case. To begin with, make sure to gather as much information as possible about the accident and write it all down. The kinds of details that will help to support your claim include:
Identity of parties involved in the accident, along with their contact details and vehicle registration number if it was a road accident.
- Contacts names and numbers of any witnesses.
- Where the accident happened and, if possible, photos of the scene and your injuries.
- Names and dates of the health facilities where you were treated.
- Medical records such as diagnostic reports, hospital bills, and so on.
- Receipts of extra costs you may have incurred as a result of the accident. For example, travel and accommodation expenses incurred during doctor or specialist hospital appointments.
Whilst it may be difficult to gather some of this information, depending on your injury or when it occurred, try to collect as much as possible before you start your claim. You can also ask for assistance from a loved one or friend, if you are unable to personally document the accident. It will help your solicitor with the evidence needed to negotiate for a settlement. An experienced claims advisor or personal injury lawyer should be able to guide you on how best to gather any additional material to support your case.
Do I Have To Go To Court?
Not all personal injury cases end up in court. When cases of negligence are irrefutable, the liable party are often quick to settle through negotiations and avoid a costly legal battle. Even then, it is still prudent to have legal representation to ensure you do not settle for a compensation amount that is less than what your injury claim is truly worth.
How Long Would It Take To Settle My Claim?
It is difficult to estimate how long personal injury claims can take to resolve, because every case is different. The time it will take to settle depends on the complexity of your claim, severity of the injury, how the accident occurred and the time needed to compile supporting evidence.
For example, the compensation claim may take longer when dealing with a severe life-changing injury. The reason for this is that your solicitor may need to assess your recovery to understand the full impact of your injury and ensure all costs are covered.
The duration is also affected by whether the party alleged to be at fault accepts liability or decide to challenge your lawsuit in court. In cases where the fault is clear, the injury claim will most likely be settled reasonably quickly.
How Much Can I Expect As Compensation?
The compensation amount due to you will depend on the type of injury, its severity and the impact on your quality of life. Once negotiations start, you will start to have an idea of how much your claim is worth, should it be successful. A claims advisor can help you through this process.
What Types Of Monetary Losses Can I Try To Recover?
The degree of damage the injury caused will determine how much a claimant is awarded for pain and suffering, or what is legally known as ‘general damages’. This could include physical pain and/or emotional and mental anguish. Severe harm is not only debilitating, but can also be costly to treat and may require lengthy recovery periods. Therefore, as you would expect, the more serious the injury is the higher the overall compensation amount due to the victim.
There can also be many additional financial costs incurred after sustaining a personal injury. Monetary losses fall under the category of ‘special damages’. You can seek reimbursement for expenses such as:
- Lost wages due to time spent off work and future loss of earnings, if relevant.
- Medical expenses for surgery, drugs, physical therapy or any other treatment prescribed by a healthcare professional.
- The cost of hiring a personal caregiver to aid in your recovery, where appropriate.
- Out of pocket expenses you have had to incur as a result of the accident, such as modifications to your car or home and money spent on travelling when attending medical appointments.
- If an accident results in the death of a primary financial provider, then the affected family (dependents) can claim for loss of financial support.
What Is The Cost Of Getting Legal Representation For Personal Injury Claims?
With many personal injury solicitors agreeing to take on cases on a ‘no win-no fee’ basis, you don’t usually have to pay for any upfront costs when filing a claim.
In this kind of arrangement, you will enter into a ‘conditional fee agreement’ with your lawyer. If your case is unsuccessful, you pay nothing. On the flip side, your solicitor will be paid a pre-agreed amount or percentage of your compensation award if the claim is successful.
Is There A Maximum Success Fee In Conditional Fee Agreements?
According to the Conditional Fee Agreements Order 2013, solicitors in the UK can only charge a maximum success fee for personal injury cases. Article 5 of the CFA Order imposes a cap of 25% on the compensation amount awarded. Each case is individual however, so we suggest you discuss this in more detail with your legal representative.