How do I make a personal injury claim?
After you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, starting a personal injury claim may be the last thing on your mind. However, claiming compensation can help fund rehabilitation to help ease the pain suffered, cover financial losses and support with any future treatment that may relate to the accident.
In this blog, our expert personal injury solicitors explain how the claims process works and what to expect.
What is classed as a personal injury?
Personal injury relates to an accident or negligent event that has caused injury to an individual, either physically or psychologically.
This covers a range of circumstances, from road traffic collisions to slips, trips and falls, accidents at work and industrial diseases. Pursuing a claim involves a Claimant, the person injured (or someone acting on their behalf), and a Defendant, the person or organisation who is potentially responsible.
How do I make a personal injury claim?
Once you have decided to start a personal injury claim, the first step will be to arrange a meeting with a personal injury lawyer to discuss your potential claim and your options going forward.
Notifying the Defendant of the claim
Once you have met with one of our solicitors, we will write to the Defendant to state why we consider them to be at fault. The Defendant is required to respond, and this can take as little as 15 working days and as long as four months. Our team will always take action to ensure this process is moved along as swiftly as possible.
If liability (fault) is denied, the Defendant’s response will be assessed and further documentation may be obtained, such as witness statements and medical records. This will determine whether your solicitor can continue with the claim.
If liability is admitted, the next step is to value the claim.
Valuing the claim
The value of the claim is divided into two elements: the injury element of the claim, and the financial loss element of the claim.
To assess the injury element of the claim, we obtain copies of your medical records and commission an injury report carried out by an independent medical expert. This will involve an examination and it may be that you need to see more than one expert depending on the injuries you have suffered.
In respect of the financial loss element of the claim, you will need evidence of any financial losses and any other relevant materials, such as photos and invoices, will also be beneficial to your case.
Once the value of the claim has been finalised, settlement negotiations will begin, followed by the settlement. If an agreement isn’t reached, your case may proceed to court, but this is often unlikely. Our personal injury lawyers always aim to settle out of court but if it does not, we have the experience and expertise to support you through the court process and ensure you have the most positive and fair outcome.
Do I need a solicitor?
Although there is no legal requirement to instruct a solicitor to handle your claim, having a specialist personal injury lawyer on your side can provide a better chance of successfully claiming compensation. An experienced solicitor will be familiar with the claims process and will work to successfully conclude your claim at an early stage without compromising your interests. They will also have the expertise to help you achieve a fair outcome.
Another benefit of claiming for personal injury using a solicitor is that they will be able to help you to get access to specialist rehabilitation and treatment during or after the claim.
How long do I have to start a personal injury claim?
In most circumstances, you will have three years from the date of the incident to make a compensation claim. This might be extended in some cases, for example:
- Where the injured person lacks mental capacity: the three-year limit will begin once they regain capacity. If the Claimant does not regain capacity, a claim can be brought at any time by their loved one.
- Claims involving children: if the person injured is under 18 at the time of the accident, the three-year time limit begins on their 18th birthday, meaning they have until their 21st birthday to start a claim.
- Claims where the injured person has died: the three-year time limit begins from the date of death, or the date the death was linked to the accident. Whoever manages the deceased’s estate can bring a claim on their behalf.
If you are making a claim once you have regained capacity or on behalf of someone else, you must seek advice from a personal injury solicitor as soon as possible whilst the memory of what happened is still fresh.
How is compensation calculated?
Each incident that leads to a personal injury claim has its own unique circumstances and a range of evidence will be taken into account to determine financial compensation. This includes:
- Evidence of injuries, the pain suffered as a result and the longevity of the injuries
- Cost of any medical treatment, therapy or rehabilitation
- Loss of income from time off work or a change of job
- Adaptive equipment, such as mobility aids or prosthetics
- Adaptions to the home or the cost of moving to an accessible home
- Items damaged in the accident, such as a car, bike or clothing
Compensation covers two forms of damages:
- General Damages: this relates to any physical or mental injury suffered as a result of the accident; and
- Special Damages: compensation to support you in getting back into the financial position you would be in if the accident had never occurred.
How can I fund my personal injury claim?
You may be wondering how expensive a personal injury claim might be and whether it is worth the cost. Our personal injury solicitors will talk you through the various funding options available from the outset, and you can rest assured that we will find a solution that works for you.
There are four main options for funding your claim:
Conditional Fee Agreements (CFAs)
Depending on the nature and complexity of your personal injury claim, we usually offer a Conditional Fee Agreement, also known as ‘no win, no fee’. This means that if your claim is unsuccessful, you won’t be liable to pay for our time. We can also help you access insurance that protects you against paying expenses and/or the Defendant’s costs.
If you win your case, the Defendant will pay the majority of your legal costs and expenses, with any unrecoverable costs deducted from your final compensation amount.
Legal expenses insurance
This is a common benefit or optional add-on to home or vehicle insurance policies, and it usually provides cover, to a certain limit, for legal fees and expenses, regardless of the outcome of your case.
Legal expenses insurers often have a preferred panel of solicitors they refer to and we will need to discuss your claim with them before we can represent you.
Trade union funding
If you’re a trade union member or entitled to trade union benefits, they may be able to cover some or all of your legal costs for a personal injury claim.
Trade unions also tend to have a preferred panel of solicitors, so we will need to share details of your claim with them before agreeing to represent you.
If, on first evaluation, your case is not deemed strong enough for a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement, we can continue investigating your case on a private funding basis. If this process is positive, we may be able to take on the case on a CFA basis at a later date.
Our personal injury solicitors will always provide fee estimates in advance so there are no surprises.
How we can help
If you have been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, our expert solicitors can help you make a personal injury claim. We offer a no-obligation consultation with a member of our expert personal injury team which enables us to talk about your options and how best to fund your claim.