One of the first things we’re asked when people get in touch is, “Can I make a personal injury claim?”. Generally, the answer is yes if you’ve been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s mistake (negligence). However, each claim is unique and it’s not always obvious who was to blame and when the injured party should be compensated. In this article, we’ll look at personal injury claims in more detail and explain what you’ll need to prove before you’ll be paid damages for your suffering.
To guide you through the claims process, our advisors provide an initial consultation on a no-obligation basis. That means they’ll listen to how you’ve been injured, answer any questions you might have and provide free legal advice about what you should do next. Our personal injury solicitors offer a No Win, No Fee service for any personal injury claim they believe has a fair chance of being won. Therefore, if your claim is accepted, your solicitor won’t ask you to pay any legal fees upfront.
To find out if you can make a personal injury claim, either call our specialists on 0800 652 1345 or keep reading to learn more about your options.
How do I know if I have a personal injury claim?
In theory, you’re free to make a personal injury claim in any circumstances if that’s what you want to do but our solicitors wouldn’t always be able to help. As they provide a No Win, No Fee service, they will only take on claims that meet certain eligibility criteria:
- Did the defendant owe you (the claimant) a legal duty of care?
- Was the defendant negligent and did their actions or lack of action cause an accident?
- Did you sustain a personal injury as a result?
Essentially, to make a successful personal injury claim you must be able to prove all of the above is true. For example, if you had an accident (caused by someone else), but you weren’t injured, you wouldn’t have a claim. Similarly, if you broke an arm in a fall but the defendant couldn’t have foreseen the accident or done anything to prevent it, you wouldn’t have a claim.
The answer to the question of “How do I know if I have a personal injury claim?” is if someone who owed you a duty of care was negligent and caused an accident in which you were injured, then yes you’ll almost certainly have a claim.
Let’s now take a look at the above questions in more detail:
Was I owed a “duty of care”?
This is a phrase that’s banded around quite a lot although many people do not fully understand its meaning. In fact, a duty of care is a responsibility placed upon individuals or organisations by different pieces of legislation.
Generally, when you’re at work, in a public place or on someone else’s property legally, you’ll be owed a duty of care. For example:
- Employers have a duty of care towards staff welfare because of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
- Road users have a duty to try to avoid accidents because of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
- Operators of shops, gyms, train stations and other public places have a duty of care towards the safety of customers and visitors because of the Occupiers Liability Act 1984.
- Councils, local authorities and other agencies have a duty of care to inspect and maintain public paths and roads because of the Highways Act 1980.
- Care home operators have a duty of care towards their client’s safety because of the Health and Social Care Act 2008.
These are just some general examples of when you might be owed a duty of care and could be eligible to start a personal injury claim. You don’t need to get too involved in researching these laws as our advisors and personal injury solicitors will be able to check this for you during your free consultation.
Negligence leading to personal injury claims
Next, you’ll need to prove that the defendant in your claim was negligent. In general terms, this is where they did something (or didn’t do something) that caused your accident to occur. We can’t list every type of negligence that could allow a personal injury claim to proceed but some examples include:
- If your employer failed to train you on how to use a dangerous piece of machinery and you were injured as a result.
- Where your child was injured at school after falling from a damaged climbing frame.
- Where you were knocked off a bike by a driver who was using their satnav or mobile phone whilst driving.
- If you suffered an allergic reaction after staff in a restaurant gave you inaccurate information about allergens in your meal.
- Where you slipped on a wet floor and were injured in a supermarket because staff had failed to clean up water from a defrosting freezer.
Don’t worry if we haven’t added an example similar to your own here. You could still be entitled to personal injury compensation so please consider calling our advisros to check.
Injuries leading to personal injury claims
Essentially, any injury could be claimed for during a personal injury claim. Some of the most common include:
- Back injuries including slipped discs.
- Head injuries and brain damage.
- Scalds and burns.
- Broken bones.
- Muscle, ligaments and tendon tears or sprains.
- Psychological injuries.
- Cuts, bruises and lacerations.
- Organ damage.
To make a successful personal injury claim, you must be able to prove that your injuries were sustained during the accident caused by the defendant. That might seem obvious but a defendant’s insurer could claim that you already had the injury prior to the accident or that your symptoms are not as bad as you are claiming. As such, we’ll look at what proof could help with this process shortly.
How much compensation for a personal injury claim?
Our personal injury lawyers will look at your claim in full before it’s filed with the defendant to make sure all aspects of your suffering are considered. That means they could claim compensation to cover:
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Mental trauma (anxiety, depression, distress, post-traumatic stress disorder etc).
- Lost income and future loss of earnings.
- Medical costs such as private physiotherapy or prescription fees.
- Loss of enjoyment for your normal hobbies or social activities.
- The cost of a carer if needed (including family or friends).
- Travel expenses.
- Replacement costs for property damaged during the accident.
- Mobility aids not provided by the NHS.
- Home adaptations if your quality of life will improve as a result i.e. easier wheelchair access.
Providing proof for a personal injury claim
When you file a personal injury claim, it will usually be forwarded to an insurance company. Without any proof to show why the defendant was to blame or the extent of your injuries, they are likely to refuse to compensate you. Some of the types of proof that could be used to support your claim include:
- Medical records from the hospital or your GP to prove your diagnosis.
- Accident report forms to help prove when and where you were injured.
- Witness statements from anyone else who saw what happened.
- Photographs from the accident scene and of your visible injuries.
- Dashcam or CCTV footage if the accident was caught on camera.
- Financial records to help claim back any costs associated with your injuries.
Medical assessments for a compensation claim
The personal injury claims process requires you to provide a report from an independent medical assessment. This can usually be arranged locally with a specialist who’ll examine your injuries and check your medical records. They’ll also try to find out from you how your injuries have affected you.
The report from your meeting will list all of your injuries and set out your prognosis. Your solicitor and the defendant’s representatives will use this to calculate your settlement amount if your personal injury claim is won.
Personal injury claims time limits
In law, there is a 3-year time limit for all personal injury claims in the UK. This will either start from:
- The date of your accident (if you were immediately aware of your injuries); or
- Your date of knowledge (i.e. the date your injuries were diagnosed).
The claims process can take as little as 6 months if liability for the accident and your injuries are accepted straight away. Where extra investigation is needed or more negotiation is required, the claims process can take longer than a year.
If you’re struggling financially while your claim is progressing, your solicitor may be able to request interim payments to help you. These could cover lost income, medical costs or care costs and could be possible so long as the defendant has already accepted responsibility for your injuries.
While 3 years is a long time, there’s a fair bit of work to do during a personal injury claim so we’d always suggest that you begin sooner rather than later.
Can I make a personal injury claim for someone else?
There are times when claimants can’t represent themselves legally. They include:
- If the claimant is a child (under 18 years old); or
- Where the claimant doesn’t have the mental capacity to claim for themselves.
In these cases, a representative (friend, parent, guardian etc) can make a personal injury claim on behalf of the claimant by becoming their litigation friend.
Claims can be made at any point before the child’s 18th birthday or before the claimant regains their mental capacity (in accordance with the Mental Capacity Act 2005) meaning the normal time limits will not apply.
Our solicitors can help you to become a litigation friend so please get in touch today if this is something you’d like to do.
Do personal injury claims go to court?
As our solicitors review claims before they are taken on, very few end up in court. Usually, both parties will try to settle the claim amicably to try and avoid the stress and costs associated with court hearings.
However, our solicitors will sometimes use the courts if they believe you should be compensated but the defendant won’t agree to a fair settlement.
No Win, No Fee claims
We believe it’s important to take on legal representation when claiming compensation. However, it’s fair to say that nobody wants to pay legal fees upfront if there’s a chance they’ll lose their personal injury claim. For that reason, our solicitors work on a No Win, No Fee basis for all claims they agree to work on.
As a result, you only have to pay for your solicitor’s work if you receive a compensation payout. If your claim is accepted on this basis, your solicitor will:
- Find out exactly how you’ve been affected by your injuries.
- Arrange for medical reports and collect supporting proof.
- Send the claim to the defendant and deal with their insurers on your behalf.
- Negotiate for you and try to deal with any arguments or objections raised.
- Attempt to settle the claim in your favour and to secure as much compensation as possible.
All of this work will be carried out without any advance payment. The only time you’ll pay your solicitor is if they win your claim. If that happens, a percentage of your settlement will be retained as a success fee.
Start a personal injury claim today
We hope this article has answered the question, “Can I make a personal injury claim?”. To see if you’re eligible to claim, call our team on 0800 652 1345 today.
They’ll review your options with you for free and could partner you with one of our No Win, No Fee personal injury solicitors right away.
Alternatively, you can ask any further questions you have about personal injury claims by connecting to our free live chat service.