Over 3 million people are injured in accidents every year. In many of these cases the accident is somebody else’s fault. In this scenario, it may be possible to make a personal injury claim for compensation.
We have all seen adverts on TV and maybe received unsolicited calls asking about any accidents we may have had but how much do you really know about the process of a personal injury claim?
What Is A Personal Injury?
Personal injury can include physical or psychological injury or illness. Causes can include road traffic accidents, work accidents, medical negligence, public place incidents and product liability claims.
More specifically, let’s take the workplace as an example. If at work you have an accident which causes physical injury to you, you may be able to claim against your employer.
The harm doesn’t necessarily need to be a visible physical injury. If you suffer from a psychological illness caused by stress at work, you may also be able to claim against your employer.
Essentially, if you have been harmed but someone else is at fault and you are the victim, you may have a right to compensation. It is also possible to claim on behalf of someone who has died as a result of personal injury.
Where Do I Start?
It is best to seek legal advice as soon as possible as there are variable time limits for claims. Ensuring you have informed the correct people and collected as much evidence or information at the scene of the incident will benefit you in the long run.
If you have been involved in a road traffic accident for example, the police should be informed as should your insurance company. If you have suffered injuries, be sure to see a doctor as the doctor may be asked to provide a report at a later date. If you are able to take photographs and collect names and addresses of witnesses then do so. If the accident has taken place at work, ensure it has been recorded in the accident book.
What Happens Next?
A personal injury claim should be fairly straightforward with the right legal representation. Solicitors in Nelson, or any other local area can advise the best course of action. To begin with, your solicitor will send a letter to the party alleged to have caused the harm including information about the injury. If an expert opinion is required to back up your allegation this will be arranged by the solicitor. The defendant is expected to reply within a set time frame and accept or deny responsibility.
If the defendant accepts responsibility then it is usual for the solicitor to seek to settle out of court. You will be asked by your solicitor how much compensation you would be willing to settle out of court for. This is called an ‘offer to settle’ or ‘part 36 offer’. The solicitor will advise on whether this is appropriate. If the defendant agrees to your terms, the matter can be settled out of court.
There are two types of damages that the defendant can be asked to pay, general and special. General damages cover pain and suffering and loss of earnings. Special damages take into account costs such as cost of travel to hospital, medical expenses and hiring or repairing a car.
If however, the matter can’t be agreed out of court, your solicitor will advise whether or not you should pursue legal action. The defendant may deny liability and in this case you could take them to court and challenge this.
Take the time to talk to qualified solicitors and find out more about making a claim.