Personal Injury Claims
Introduction to Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury claims can be made to cover any injuries sustained in an accident, such as whiplash from car accidents, accidents in the workplace and industrial diseases, slips and trips in public places, food poisoning in restaurants, medical negligence and even dog bites.
Personal injury claims can be made whenever an injury has been sustained in an accident which was not entirely the victim’s fault, so long as the accident was due to negligence or a failure in the duty of care of another.
If you have suffered injuries and you believe that someone else was to blame, you could be eligible to make a personal injury claim for compensation, and legal advice should be sought at the earliest possible opportunity.
Proving Negligence in Personal Injury Claims
In order for personal injury claims to be successful, it is necessary to prove that “on the balance of probabilities” that an injury has been sustained due to the negligence of a third party. Negligence is a legal term meaning the failure in a duty of care; be that the failure in a duty of care to maintain a safe working environment, the duty of care owed by drivers to respect other road users, or to maintain a pavement, road surface or shop, and to ensure that it is free from tripping hazards. Provided that the accident and injury could have been avoided had a duty of care not been breached, personal injury claims should be successful.
It is up to the claimant and an appointed personal injury solicitor to build the case and to collect evidence against a defendant. This could be identifying and photographing a hazard which caused a trip such as a pothole in a pavement in personal injury claims against a local authority. In many cases, proving negligence is not so straightforward, so it is always wise to seek the advice of a personal injury claims solicitor to maximise the chance of success.
Not all personal injury claims are made against just one third party. Road traffic accidents often involve multiple drivers, and a separate claim will need to be made against each negligent party. Personal negligence is also factored into any claim, such as not wearing a seatbelt or failing to seek immediate medical care to have injuries treated. Even when there has been personal negligence, personal injury claims can still be made – although settlements will be reduced to take the level of personal negligence into account.
Using a Personal Injury Claims Solicitor
Making personal injury claims is rarely a quick process, and has potential to become highly complicated. Even when the defendant has accepted liability, agreeing a settlement figure for damages can be difficult. Using a personal injury solicitor will facilitate a smooth claims process, and will relieve the victim of the aggravation of handling legal matters themselves — enabling them to focus on making a recovery from their injuries. Many personal injury claims are pursued by solicitors on a ‘No Win No Fee’ basis. This is especially important when the clamant is already facing mounting medical bills as a result of an injury, and cannot afford to commit funds to pursuing compensation.
As the name suggests, ‘No Win No Fee’ means that if a solicitor is unsuccessful in obtaining compensation, that the claimant will not pay for their services. However ‘No Win No Fee’ does not necessarily mean that a claimant will not have to pay a penny in the event of an unsuccessful claim, as under UK law they may be liable for the legal costs of the defence, as well as any costs (disbursements) incurred during the claims process by the claimant’s solicitor.
To avoid being personally liable for third party legal fees it is necessary to take out a separate “After the Event” insurance policy, although some household contents and motor insurance policies make some provision for such legal costs in the event of unsuccessful personal injury claims.
Who Pays Compensation in Personal Injury Claims?
Compensation is always paid by the defendant’s insurance company, such as a motor insurance policy in the case of a road traffic accident. In cases where there is no insurance policy against which to claim – as with uninsured drivers – personal injury claims may still be possible. In this case, personal injury claims are made through the Motor Insurer’s Bureau (MIB). When personal injury claims other than for injuries caused by a road traffic collision are made against an individual, claims are usually made against their home contents insurance policy. All businesses are required by law to have public liability insurance, and it is this policy which pays out in the event of accidents on public premises – or in the case of an accident in the workplace, by your employer´s insurance company.
Court Ordered Compensation and Offers of Settlement
In the majority of personal injury claims, a personal injury solicitor will be able to negotiate a settlement for damages with the defendant’s insurance company. It is in the interests of all parties to avoid taking the case to court if it can be avoided, as this will increase the legal costs considerably. Settlements for damages may be hotly debated between a personal injury solicitor and the insurance company, but a settlement can often be reached. Only when the defence denies liability, or when negotiations over personal injury claims have stalled will the matter be taken to the UK courts. Should this happen, it will be a judge who decides the outcome of the case and any compensation payment.
How is Compensation Awarded?
Compensation is often claimed to recover financial losses, such as material damage in a car accident, the cost of repair and alternative transport costs. When a personal injury has been sustained such costs can be claimed as special damages, in addition to medical treatment costs such as prescription charges or surgeries, and loss of earnings through enforced sick leave. As long as the costs and expenses can be proven were necessary as a result of the accident, and can be supported by appropriate receipts and invoices, they can be claimed as special damages in personal injury claims.
General damages are awarded to compensate for pain, suffering and any loss of amenity following an accident. General damages claims can be complicated to calculate due to the abstract nature of pain, suffering and loss of function. The value of this aspect of personal injury claims is based on a number of different factors, and a personal injury solicitor will consult previous court precedents. A personal injury solicitor will be able to calculate general damages after a thorough investigation of the case, the circumstances surrounding the accident, the nature of the injuries sustained and how these have affected the quality of life.
Personal Injury Claims Summary
If you have been injured in an accident for which you were not entirely to blame, you could be eligible to claim compensation for your injuries.
You will need to gather evidence to prove that “on the balance of probabilities” the accident could have been avoided with a proper level or care, and that a third party has been negligent.
You should seek legal advice to determine your eligibility to claim compensation, the time scale for initiating a claim and for specific advice on the personal injury claims process and the steps you must take next.