If you have been in an accident or injured yourself in some way, pursuing a claim for compensation is probably the last thing on your mind.
However even minor injuries can be troublesome and getting the right treatment or access to the necessary specialists can be expensive and could mean losing time from work.
Getting the right help doesn’t just mean that you receive compensation for your injuries, it can also help you get the rehabilitation treatment that you need sooner rather than later.
But the idea of pursuing a personal injury claim can be daunting if you don’t know what to expect. Here’s a guide to some of the most common questions that people have.
What kinds of injuries would be covered?
Personal injury claims is a phrase which has become a common part of modern life but many people do not understand exactly what could potentially be included in a claim.
The obvious one that springs to mind is car accidents and this indeed is a common cause of claims, whether a hit and run incident, a pedestrian accident or even a case involving an uninsured driver. Any kind of road accident where you were not to blame could lead to a successful personal injury claim.
However, it isn’t just road traffic accidents which are covered. Trips, slips and falls due to another individual or organisation’s negligence are all legitimate reasons to claim whilst industrial diseases and injuries sustained as a result of faulty or defective products can also be considered.
There are many different reasons which could lead to a personal injury claim but there are two factors which always have to be present. Firstly, the individual or organisation must have a duty of care to the person who was hurt and they must have been in breach of that duty. Secondly, the breach which occurred must be the factor which led to the injury.
If you are in any doubt, it is always a good idea to seek professional advice from legal experts experienced in personal injury claims. They will be able to let you know whether you may have a case and won’t cost you anything.
How much compensation will I get?
The amount of compensation (also known as damages in legal-speak) will vary widely between individual cases, even if the cause of the injury is the same. This is because the award takes into account the losses which have occurred to the individual as well as the pain and suffering caused.
Compensation can be broken down into two main categories.
General Damages are based on the impact the injury has had on your life, taking into account pain, suffering and loss of quality of life. These factors do not have to be permanent, and in fact rarely are. It is imperative to be scrupulously honest with your legal experts as trying to inflate the injury could result in the whole claim collapsing.
The amount of General Damages awarded will take into account the amount handed out in recent cases of a similar type which were decided by judges, but will be adjusted to ensure they are relevant to your particular circumstances. For this reason, it’s almost impossible to provide a figure.
The other category of compensation is known as Special Damages. This is far easier to calculate as is a direct replacement of any financial losses you have incurred. This could cover a range of expenses, including loss of earnings (as a result of the injury), medical treatment, special equipment required, policy excess, medication (even the cost of prescriptions) and damaged clothing or possessions.
You can help your legal team put together a successful claim for compensation by ensuring you keep copies of all receipts and log any expenses. It is also a good idea to keep a diary to keep track of how you are feeling; this can help to justify the amount of General Damage’s payable.
How long will it take?
Unfortunately even with the best legal expertise, making a claim for personal injury is not a speedy process. Road traffic accident claims where injuries are not particularly severe or complex are often the quickest to resolve, but even these will normally take a number of months. More complicated cases can take up to 18 months or longer.
As a general rule, the more severe the injuries, the longer the case will take to reach a conclusion. Part of the reason for this is that it can be more difficult to ascertain the longer term implications of the injury and how it will affect the individual in the future.
Ultimately, the decision about whether to accept an offer from the other party is your decision but your legal team will be able to provide you with help and guidance about the best way forward.
Suffering from a personal injury as a result of an incident which wasn’t your fault can be very unpleasant. The good news is that with the help of legal experts you could claim compensation to help pay for the extra expenses so that you don’t end up out of pocket. And after all, if it wasn’t your fault, why should you be the one who has to pay?
Written by Samantha Wood who advocates using a company like Tollers for managing your personal injury claims.