Personal Injury-entitled to compensation?
Had an accident or injury in the last 3 years?
If you have had an accident resulting in an injury then you may wish to consider claiming compensation for the injury expenses and other losses.
There are numerous types of injury damage or loss for which compensation might by obtained. These include damaged or lost property, loss of earnings, expenses for travelling for treatment, the cost of treatment, reduced ability to obtain work in the future, and costs associated with any disability which will arise in the future as a result of the accident.
Do you have a valid claim?
Generally, it is necessary to establish that someone else, or an organisation, has been at fault before you can claim compensation from them, or more often, their insurers. Fault can be established by showing that someone has broken a duty of care towards you (negligence) or breach of a regulation created under an Act of Parliament (breach of statutory duty).
Types of injury and related effects
Generally your injury will be a physical injury – for example broken bones, bruising and strains. Sometimes your injury will be psychiatric or psychological, such as clinical depression or post traumatic stress disorder. Often, the most important aspect of the injury is the prognosis or outlook. Your injury may result in complications later in life. For example, a fracture might lead to osteo-arthritis. It may not be known whether or not complications will arise but there may be a chance of this. These matters have to be taken into account
If your injury results from defective goods, the manufacturer or supplier of the goods may be automatically liable to pay compensation, so that it is not necessary to establish further fault.
How to proceed
To pursue a claim, you and your solicitor will need to put together evidence to support that claim. It is important that you record exactly what happened in the accident whilst it is fresh in your mind.
You should keep a note of:
- Names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses
- What was said by any parties at the time of the accident
- Any symptoms you have suffered following the accident
- Treatment you have received, together with details of the treating doctors
- Things you were unable to do as a result of your injury
- Care/assistance given by members of your family or for which you have had to pay.
You should keep details of all expenditure you have had to make as a result of the accident and retain receipts where these are available. You should keep a note of any losses you have suffered, for example loss of earnings, and be able to prove these by producing salary slips etc.
It will always be necessary to obtain medical evidence to support a claim and often other experts’ reports will also be needed.
Issues that may affect your claim
Sometimes you may have contributed to the accident yourself (this is referred to as contributory negligence) and the insurers who pay the claim will argue that the amount of money which you receive should be reduced accordingly, or even that you should receive no compensation at all.
Issues can also arise regarding the link between the accident and the consequences which you say have arisen, for example the duration of injuries where there is an existing medical problem (causation). These issues can have a considerable effect on the amount of compensation you are entitled to.
Finding someone to represent you
Do you need a Solicitor? For anything other than the most minor of claims (value of £1000 or less) the answer is yes. Insurers run a business and naturally wish to settle claims in the lowest sum possible, or even to avoid any payment where possible. The sums mentioned in publicity may sound substantial, but claimants may often be entitled to a larger sum. A Solicitor can ensure that a fair settlement is obtained for you.
Can I use a claim handler who is not a Solicitor? You can but there are several things you should consider
- Claims handlers do not have the professional obligations and disciplinary procedures which regulate Solicitors.
- They are probably not insured against getting your case wrong: Solicitors have to be.
- They will probably have no experience of handling Court cases and will not be in a position to threaten or to bring Court proceedings if a proper settlement cannot be achieved by negotiation.
- Claims handlers will often take up to a third of any compensation received and have no ability to get the cost of pursuing the claim back from the insurers. In contrast, a Solicitor, on successfully completing a case, should be able to recover all, or the greater part, of the costs of bringing your claim so that you get all, or the greater part, of your compensation intact.
How do I find a Solicitor who specialises in bringing personal injury claims?
Ask for a Solicitor who is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers who can demonstrate that they have the necessary expertise and experience to deal with your case.
Nigel Pepper, a Consultant with Hand Morgan & Owen, is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. If you feel that you have a potential claim, ask for a free first interview, which will be provided to you without any obligation. Hand Morgan & Owen have negotiated hundreds of personal injury claims and have recovered in the region of £2m for clients over the last 3 years.
For further information contact our Nigel Pepper at Hand Morgan & Owen on Stafford 01785 211411.
Published on web site – January 2007
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances. (50587)