The key to any personal injury compensation claim is proving negligence on behalf of one or more third parties. Once negligence has been proven then a degree of liability will be declared and a compensation claim negotiated.
There will be situations where it may seem “obvious” to the general public that a third party was negligent but once the full picture is taken into consideration, this is not always the case. One common example is the treatment of icy paths and roads for which local authorities have a legal responsibility. In the event of an injury from slipping on ice, if the local authority is able to prove that the area in question was treated recently or there was insufficient time to tackle the problem, then negligence would be difficult to prove. In some instances a degree of negligence and partial liability may be ruled by the courts, but it is fair to assume that any potential negligent third party would need to have time to react to a worsening weather situation. This is one of many examples where the situation may look different upon closer inspection.
Times, Dates And Places
When looking to pursue a valid personal injury claim it is imperative that all of the information put forward to the courts and the defendant are as accurate as possible. Times, dates and places are the most obvious elements of a personal injury claim because these will form the basis of the legal action.
Traditionally a claimant has a three-year window of opportunity from the incident during which they can stake a claim or from when the injury is linked to negligence. For example some injuries or illnesses such as asbestosis can take years to develop. In cases such as this, there would be a three year time limit to claim compensation from when asbestosis was diagnosed. So, we can only begin to imagine how blurred dates, times and locations might become when writing a report 3 years or longer after the event. It is therefore imperative that you immediately log details of any injury as soon after the event as possible. Obviously, the first course of action should be to ensure medical attention is received where applicable which is something that can also strengthen any claim.
When the subject of personal injury claims comes up the vast majority of people automatically assume this is about physical injuries when this is not necessarily the case. Mental stress and trauma caused by an incident which was brought on by the negligence of a third party can form the basis of a personal injury claim for psychological injury. There will obviously need to be some kind of medical assessment to back up these claims but just because your “injury” is not physical does not necessarily mean your claim is not valid.
In the vast majority of instances there will be a degree of physical injury ranging from cuts and bruises, to broken limbs and in some instances death. The severity of the injury will obviously impact any compensation claim and it is vital that medical attention is received as soon as possible to prevent further complications. Seeking medical assistance also offers a means of obtaining a relatively quick assessment of your injuries and the circumstances in which they occurred. The fact that medical professionals are unconnected third parties means that your situation will be assessed in a business-like manner with no bias. The details will also be noted on your medical records which should form a strong part of your eventual compensation claim report.
Your doctor, or a medical professional connection introduced by a personal injury law firm, will also be able to assist with confirming medical costs incurred and medical costs in the future.
Witness Statements And Photographic Evidence
In reality the last thing on your mind after suffering any degree of personal injury is to look around and see if there were any witnesses to the incident or begin taking photographs for evidence. There will be some personal injury claims which offer an opportunity to gather witness details and photographic evidence or indeed maybe an accompanying third-party can assist in this. In instances of slips and trips due to ill maintained footpaths and highways, there may well be a slim window of opportunity before the ice or snow melts or the issue is addressed by the local authorities. Where possible, gather witness details and witness statements together with photographic evidence – a picture speaks a thousand words!
Recording The Impact On Your Life
Any successful personal injury compensation claim will revolve around not only the actual injury but also the impact on an individual’s life. This is an element which is often ignored by claimants but it is something which your personal injury solicitor will address as soon as possible. An inability to work, restricted employment income, mobility issues, mental stress and the general impact upon your family life should be recorded in order to obtain a “fair” compensation settlement. Some of the issues you may have experienced after an accident may seem relatively minor in the early days but could have a significant knock-on effect in years to come. Again, this is an area in which your personal injury solicitor will be able to guide you.
Out-Of-Court Settlements And Court Cases
When lodging a claim for personal injury compensation, all evidence will be presented to the courts as well as the defendant. In the vast majority of cases where negligence is fairly obvious, defendants will look to settle out of court to reduce their legal costs and avoid negative publicity. If this is the route that the defendant chooses then it will be down to the claimant’s and defendant’s representatives to negotiate a settlement amount. This would obviously need to be signed off by the claimant and the defendant with relevant advice given.
There is always the chance that a defendant will challenge claims of negligence, or perhaps argue shared negligence, with a claim then likely to go before the courts. Giving evidence in a personal injury claim court case may seem challenging and stressful but in cases of valid personal injury claims it is just a case of telling the truth and answering questions. This is where the introduction of witness statements and witness testimony can have a big impact upon any claim.
Is It Worth Pursuing A Personal Injury Claim?
We can only guess how many potentially valid personal injury claims are not pursued because the injured party believes they were relatively minor. The simple fact is that not only is it your right to pursue compensation after incurring an injury due to negligence by a third party, but there may also be long-term repercussions. If a third party, whether this is an individual, local authority or a business, feels the financial pinch of having to pay compensation due to negligence they will look to change their ways and systems in the future. As a consequence, by pursuing your own personal injury claim you may also be protecting numerous individuals in years to come who may have experienced similar injuries which should have been avoided.
There will obviously be borderline claims where negligence may be difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt. In these instances the advice of a personal injury solicitor is vital and with a No Win No Fee arrangement it may be difficult to find parties willing to take on such cases.