What Are Personal Injury Claims?
A personal injury claim is the process of recovering compensation for an injury where someone else may have been at fault.
There are a wide range of different personal injury claims, such as for accidents that occur at work, on the road, and in public places. Most personal injury claims involve accidents that have arisen directly as a result of someone else’s negligence.
You may wish to seek a personal injury compensation claim from an accident because the resultant injury has caused you to suffer financially as well as physically. In most cases, the compensation will come from the insurance company of the person or entity who was responsible for the accident or injury.
The normal amount of time you can make a personal injury claim is within three years of the date of the accident, though this may vary in some circumstances.
Many solicitors also allow you to make a no-win, no-fee personal injury claim, which means that you won’t have to pay any costs unless you actually win your claim.
What Would Be Considered a Personal Injury?
There are many things that could be considered a personal injury.
Fundamentally though, a personal injury is a physical or mental illness, disease or condition that occurs due to an accident that wasn’t your fault.
This may encompass things such as sustaining an injury in a road traffic accident due to the behaviour of another driver, cyclist or pedestrian. Alternatively, you may have been injured at work as a result of your employer not taking due care and consideration for your safety and wellbeing.
Personal injuries also cover cases where you’ve been adversely affected by medical treatment you’ve received. For example, if your health has been affected due to a misdiagnosis from a medical professional, that may come under the umbrella of personal injury. Similarly, being injured or suffering negative effects from a medical procedure may also be considered a personal injury.
Mental illnesses and conditions can also be considered to be personal injuries. For instance, if you’re suffering from anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of a traumatic incident or experience where someone else was at fault, you may be eligible for a personal injury claim.
Personal injury lawyers will be able to help you determine if your type of injury will be eligible for a personal injury compensation claim.
Road Traffic Accidents
Road traffic accidents may come in many different forms. However, it doesn’t matter if you were involved in an accident as a motorist, passenger, cyclist, motorcyclist or pedestrian—you may be eligible to claim if the accident was caused by someone else.
Common types of road traffic accidents include collisions or crashes that may have been caused by driver error, speeding, loss of control, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Road traffic accidents also cover injuries to pedestrians or bystanders as a result of someone else’s reckless driving.
Accidents that occur on public and private hire transport, such as buses, coaches and taxis, can also be claimed against. Claims can be made if you were a passenger in one of these forms of transport and you were injured due to the actions of the driver or another road user.
Slips, Trips and Falls
Many personal injury claims are made by people suffering from accidental slips, trips and falls in public places.
These types of accidents might occur for a number of reasons, such as poorly maintained flooring, wet surfaces, poor lighting or a lack of adequate warning or safety signage.
They can also occur anywhere from streets, shops, restaurants, public transport, or in any location that’s managed by a local council, business or organisation. As these entities have a duty to keep the public safe, personal injury claims may be made against them if someone suffers an accidental fall in an area that they manage.
Slips, trips and falls can cause significant damage and injury to individuals. For example, bruising, broken bones, spinal damage and head trauma are all possible consequences of accidental trips or falls.
A large number of workplace accidents occur as a result of inadequate health and safety procedures, or health and safety procedures not being properly adhered to by individuals or organisations.
There are several ways people may come into harm at their place of work. For example, injuries may occur because employers may have failed to:
- Provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Carry out risk assessments
- Provide proper health and safety training
- Provide fully safe and functioning tools or equipment
- Adequately minimise health and safety risks in the workplace
Employers have a legal obligation to keep their employees safe from harm or injury, which means that many workplace accident claims are eligible for personal injury compensation.
Medical negligence, also known as clinical negligence, can cover a wide variety of scenarios where people have come into harm as a result of negligent treatment from healthcare professionals.
Some of the most common personal injury cases arising from medical negligence include:
- Misdiagnosis, delay in diagnosing, or failure to diagnose conditions that may cause harm or exacerbate existing conditions
- Injury or harm arising from accidents or errors during medical procedures
- Mis-prescription of medication that may cause harm or injury
Medical negligence may also include incidents of medical malpractice that, despite being very serious and avoidable, still do happen. These include:
- Performing the wrong operation on someone, or operating on the wrong part of the body
- Accidentally leaving a foreign object inside someone’s body after surgery
- Cosmetic surgeries that leave scars and disfigurement
- Accidental perforation of internal organs
Cases of medical negligence can often have serious consequences, which is why many people turn to personal injury claims specialists if they’ve been affected.
Overview of Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages refer to money awarded to someone after successfully taking out a personal injury claim. They are awarded to the claimant to compensate for things such as injury, financial loss, or damages incurred by the other party at fault.
Compensatory damages differ from punitive damages, which are damages that are awarded solely to punish someone and to deter others from committing similar wrongdoings.
Compensatory damages generally fall into one of two categories: actual compensatory damages, and general compensatory damages.
What are Actual Compensatory Damages?
Actual compensatory damages are damages that are awarded to cover the cost of anything with a tangible monetary value, such as expenses, damage to items and property, and loss of earnings.
For instance, any of the following may have a fixed monetary value assigned to them and therefore could be covered by actual compensatory damages:
- Medical bills
- Physical therapy bills
- Hospice or nursing home care costs
- Damage to belongings or property
- Wage loss or employment income loss (both past and future)
- Increased living expenses
What are General Compensatory Damages?
General compensatory damages, meanwhile, are damages that cover things that do not have a fixed monetary value. These damages are intended to compensate for the pain and suffering inflicted on the claimant as a result of the personal injury claim, rather than tangible expenses or financial costs.
For example, any of the following may be covered by general compensatory damages:
- Mental distress
- Long-term physical pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of opportunity
The value of general compensatory damages can be difficult to determine, as you can’t easily assign a monetary value to someone’s experience of pain and suffering. However, there are a couple of ways in which courts may determine general compensatory damages.
One way is the ‘multiplier method’, which multiplies the sum total of someone’s actual damages by an assigned number that represents the seriousness of the injury.
Meanwhile, the ‘per diem’ method attaches a monetary value to each day that the claimant suffers, and adds the total value of those days together.
Courts may use a combination of both of these methods to calculate the value of general compensatory damages in a personal injury claim.
1. The Solicitor Determines Who’s Responsible
The first step in any personal injury claim is determining who’s at fault for the injury.
This is an important step for two reasons. Firstly, the personal injury solicitor needs to know exactly who they’re claiming against in the personal injury claim, as the person, people or organisation at fault may not always be obvious or clear from the outset.
Secondly, they also ensure that you have a valid personal injury claim that can be brought against someone. For example, it’s important to determine that the accident really was someone else’s fault, as there would be no grounds for a personal injury claim if that wasn’t the case.
In many cases, it’s not the actual person or organisation that ends up having to pay damages, but their insurers. In cases where it’s not clear or obvious as to who was at fault, such as in an anonymous hit-and-run road traffic accident, the solicitors will also be able to figure out who they can claim against in order to successfully award you the compensatory damages you deserve.
2. You and the Solicitor Gather Evidence
This is an important step that helps to establish the what, how, and why of the accident, and helps to confirm that there absolutely is a valid personal injury claim to be taken out against someone.
Solicitors will often request that you give details about the following:
- When and where the accident occurred
- What you were doing before the accident, and how it happened
- Who else witnessed the accident
- What happened immediately after the accident
- Who you think is responsible
Solicitors will often ask you to provide the names and contact details of people who also witnessed the accident and take statements from them in order to corroborate your sequence of events and support your claim.
They will also ask for additional pieces of evidence such as photographs, videos, CCTV footage, dashcam footage and police reports to help build a stronger case for your injury claim. They may also collect formal reports such as accident reports from health and safety executives, if possible.
3. The Solicitor Assesses Your Injuries, Illnesses and Recovery Process
The next step involves the personal injury lawyer gathering evidence and making a clear case around what your injuries are and how they’ve affected or impacted your life.
As part of this, you will normally need to give them permission to access your hospital or GP records for specific details about your injuries. The solicitor may also:
- Ask for any photographic evidence of injuries such as bruises, scars or disfigurements
- Arrange an independent medical assessment for your injuries
- Consult specialists to determine how long you might take to recover
- Determine what the long-term impacts might be for your injuries
During your medical assessment, a medical professional will personally examine your injuries and ask you questions about any pain you’re experiencing, how it’s affected your day-to-day life, and if it’s affected your mental health at all. This information will be used to better support your case when the claim is brought forward against whoever’s at fault.
As part of this step, the solicitor will also review your recovery process and consider the long-term implications of your injury before moving on in the claims process. If necessary, they may arrange a second medical assessment some time after the first to ensure that their evidence is as accurate and up-to-date as possible.
4. The Solicitor Determines the Amount of Personal Injury Compensation Awarded
After collecting all the necessary evidence to build the basis of the personal injury claim, the solicitor will then work out how much compensation and damages from the personal injury you deserve to be paid.
There are a few things that will be taken into consideration when working out the sum total, including:
- The nature of your injuries and how much you’ve suffered
- Medical costs and expenses
- Any loss of income from not being able to work
- Costs of damages to items, property and belongings
The total value of damages may also take into consideration losses you might face in the future as a result of the accident, as well as losses already faced.
During this stage, you may also be asked to provide evidence of losses in the form of photographs of any damaged items, receipts or pay slips.
5. A Settlement is Reached
After determining how much you deserve to be compensated, the personal injury solicitor will start to negotiate a settlement with the people or organisations being claimed against.
This may involve a process of both sides making multiple offers in order to reach a mutually agreeable sum of money.
If an offer can’t be agreed between the two sides, or if the defendant denies liability for the accident, the claim will be taken to court. This can be a lengthy process that involves a judge considering all the evidence for the case, listening to witness accounts and carefully reaching a decision about how much damages the defendant would have to pay, if they’re found to be liable.
There may still be the possibility of reaching an out-of-court settlement once the claim goes to court.
6. The Personal Injury Compensation is Paid
Once an offer is accepted or the court has made a decision in your favour, you will be paid your personal injury compensation.
This may be in the form of a single lump sum that is paid out into your account. In some other cases, however, the court may order that compensation be paid in monthly or yearly instalments instead, such as when long-term health costs need to be covered.
In cases where your injuries are so severe that you have been left with limited mental capacity to handle your own finances, compensation may be paid into a special account at court. The money here will be intended to be used by specially appointed people who will use the money for your care and other costs.
If you had a no-win, no-fee guarantee with your solicitor, this is also the point where they will receive their fee for representing you and handling your case.
How Can IAS Help?
You may have recently suffered a personal injury, accident or illness that wasn’t your fault. If so, then you may well want to pursue a personal injury claim and claim compensation for the distress, discomfort or damage that it’s caused.
For more information about making a personal injury claim, how much you might be entitled to, and the options available to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today. Call us on 0333 305 9375, or get in touch with us online.
Last modified on July 17th, 2023 at 7:20 am
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Many specialist personal injury solicitors operate on a no-win, no-fee basis.
Also sometimes known as a conditional fee agreement, no-win, no-fee personal injury claims guarantee that you can make a claim without fear of financial risk and without having to pay any fees upfront to personal injury solicitors.
Under a no-win, no-fee system, you will only ever pay a fee if you win your personal injury claim. If you lose your claim, you won’t have to pay anything—not even to the people you tried to claim against.
If you do win your case, the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company will pay most of the legal fees incurred during the claims process.
However, it’s important to note that personal injury solicitors will usually only enter into a no-win, no-fee guarantee with you if they believe that you have a strong or reasonable chance of winning your personal injury claim.
You can choose to start your personal injury claim as soon after your accident as you like. You will normally have to make your claim within three years of the date of your accident.
However, there are exceptions to this. For example, incidents involving medical negligence may start from the ‘day of discovery’, or the date when you first became aware of the medical negligence. This is because instances of medical negligence may not be immediately apparent from the date when the negligence occurred.
Similarly, if an accident left you severely incapacitated for an extended period of time, such as if you were in a coma, you would have three years from the date of your recovery in which to make the claim.
The general advice from personal injury lawyers is to claim compensation as soon as possible in all instances. This is not only so that you can recall and describe details of the accident more easily, but also to allow for as much time as possible for the claims process in case there are any unexpected delays along the way.
Personal injury claims may involve large sums of money and take significant amounts of time to resolve. It’s therefore essential that you choose a personal injury solicitor who you have the confidence can get you the assistance and compensation you deserve.
It’s important that the solicitor you choose is fully qualified and experienced in the field of personal injury claims. For example, they would need to be authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, as well as being Law Society Accredited. You should also check that they have a proven track record and have reasonable fees and costs that you would be happy to pay.
In addition, your solicitors should be sensitive, empathetic and professional at all times, especially if your accident or injuries were traumatic or caused significant mental distress. It’s important that you feel comfortable with your case being represented by them and that you feel listened to throughout the whole process.
If you were injured as a result of a violent crime, you won’t be eligible to make a personal injury claim with a personal injury law firm. Personal injury claims can only be made when injuries occur as a result of an accident where someone else was to blame.
Instead, you must make a claim from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and follow the procedures and eligibility criteria as set out by them.