If a third party has injured you as a consequence of negligence, then you have every right to pursue a personal injury compensation claim. We know from the size of the UK personal injury claims market that many people do pursue a claim. We also know numerous reasons why people are dissuaded/decide not to pursue perfectly valid personal injury claims. However, do these reasons stand up to scrutiny?
Cost of pursuing a personal injury claim
It will surprise many people that even after substantial media campaigns, not everybody knows about the no-win, no-fee option. However, this is commonplace in the personal injury claims market and effectively removes the cost of pursuing a claim. In exchange, the claimant will agree to pay a success fee from their compensation to their personal injury claims solicitor. The standard rate is up to 25%, although this can depend on the type of claim and level of compensation.
You will also find that those companies offering a no-win, no-fee arrangement will only do so with claims where they believe there is a good chance of success. In effect, they are “hedging their bets” and only pursuing claims they think will be successful. So, we can strike off the cost of pursuing a claim as a reason for, well, not pursuing a claim.
Don’t have the time
As touched on above, most personal injury claims in the UK are pursued on a no-win, no-fee basis. There is the opportunity to manage your own case, but this can be challenging at best unless you have sound legal knowledge. History also shows that the insurance companies tend to play hard-ball at the start before agreeing on out-of-court settlements where their case is weak. Unless you know the way insurance companies work and the legal system, you are pretty much on a hiding to nothing.
Therefore, it makes perfect sense to appoint a personal injury claims solicitor to pursue your claim. You will need to provide as much evidence as possible, details of the incident, and likely undertake a medical examination. Still, the bulk of the work will be done by your solicitor. Consequently, it is difficult to argue that you have a lack of time to pursue your case. In the case of a no-win, no-fee situation, what have you got to lose?
It was a genuine accident
It is important to remember that to receive compensation for injuries received, the defendant only needs to be found partially responsible. There may be situations where the incident looks like a genuine accident, but it may not be the case on further investigation. A perfect example would be an accident in the workplace claim related to substandard management/training. Your colleague may have been working to your employer’s procedures, but what if these procedures are wrong?
The issue of suing your employer for compensation opens a whole new can of worms which we will cover later in this article. If you believe you may have a valid claim, what harm is there in asking the advice of a personal injury claims solicitor? They will be honest and forthright in their analysis. From their position, there is no point taking on a no-win, no-fee case if the odds are stacked against a successful prosecution.
I was partially responsible
There is a general misconception that it is either an outright win or outright loss when it comes to personal injury compensation claims. In reality, there may be occasions where more than one party was responsible. Indeed, the claimant may also have been partially responsible for the accident. However, that does not mean that the other parties should escape scot-free!
The industry is littered with claims where responsibility was split between numerous parties, including the claimant. So how does this work? Well, let’s assume that if the defendant were entirely responsible, the claimant would be in line for a £10,000 compensation payment. However, whether via an out-of-court settlement or legal ruling, what if it was agreed that the claimant was 50% responsible? In this scenario, the claimant would receive £5,000 in compensation from the defendant; it is not a case of winner takes all.
The accident involved a work colleague
The idea of pursuing compensation due to injuries received because of the negligence of a work colleague does not sit right with many people. Who would want to sue their friends, colleagues and in some cases, family?
In the real world, an employer has a responsibility to ensure the health and well-being of all employees. Consequently, when there are accidents in the workplace as a consequence of negligence, they will ultimately be responsible. This may seem unfair to many people. However, if we delve a little deeper, there may be issues with training, procedures, or simply placing inexperienced employees in inappropriate positions.
It is all good and well “protecting your friends and colleagues”, but that will not pay the bills if you are off work. This is where it is probably sensible to take advice from a personal injury claims solicitor as soon as possible. They will have no bias, no axe to grind, and will give you the brutal truth about your accident and who may be ultimately responsible.
My employer could go out of business
When an employee is injured in the workplace, this can lead to negative press coverage and result in a significant compensation award. We know that many employers try to “persuade” their employees not to pursue compensation claims. They may suggest that a lawsuit could push the company over the edge, placing the employment of their friends and colleagues at risk. What would you call this; emotional blackmail, the truth, or a way to close down a potentially expensive situation?
The truth is that all businesses are legally obliged to have the relevant insurance cover in place. So, pursuing a compensation claim will not directly impact company cash flow and should not put your colleague’s jobs at risk. Of course, there may be a knock-on effect to company premiums, but insurance cover would ultimately pay out any compensation.
My ex-employer has gone out of business
This is a fascinating subject. Many people fail to pursue legitimate compensation claims because their employer has gone out of business. Consequently, you might automatically assume there is no case to answer on the surface because there is no defendant. Wrong!
If you can gather sufficient information to prove that injuries received in the workplace were a consequence of negligence by your previous employer, you can still pursue a claim. Of course, this assumes that the company had insurance cover in place at the time of your injury. You may need to do some detective work, scour the Internet or talk to a personal injury solicitor; this is not the end of the story. Whether the company has been taken over, gone bust, or closed down, valid cover at the time of your accident should still payout.
The perfect example would be mesothelioma and asbestos claims where companies from years ago have gone out of business. However, we know that many insurance companies were forced to pay out hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation many years down the line.
I could lose my job
In a perfect world, all of the legal protections afforded to employees should allow them to remain in employment. In reality, once you pursue your employer for compensation, this can often sour a previously good relationship. Legally, whether you pursue a successful or unsuccessful compensation claim, your workers rights after an accident at work state you should not lose your job as a consequence.
If for some reason you are treated differently after staking a claim, or perhaps you were “hounded out”, you may have a case for unfair dismissal. Under no circumstances is an employer allowed to discriminate against you as a consequence of your claim. If they do so, they could be on the end of a significant employment tribunal compensation payment as well!
Nobody is pretending that pursuing your employer for compensation is straightforward. In reality, unless those injured as a consequence of negligence pursue these claims, what will change? When companies are hit in the pocket, they tend to sit up and listen, review their procedures, and make changes. So, your claim today could save the lives of many people in the future. Don’t forget that!
Too much time has passed
Traditionally, adults injured due to negligence have three years to lodge a claim from either the date of the accident or when their injuries were diagnosed. Note the second condition, “or when their injuries were diagnosed”. There is no timescale on this, no deadline; it may be a year, five years, ten years, or twenty years down the line. However, if you can prove that an accident many years ago led to your newly diagnosed injuries, there’s no reason why you cannot make a successful compensation claim. It may not be as straightforward as a “normal claim”, but it is worth pursuing.
There are numerous examples of successful claims many years down the line, including asbestos and vibration white finger claims, to name just a couple. Over the last hundred years, we have seen tremendous strides in healthcare, often making it easier to directly associate injuries today with accidents/activities many years ago.
Change only happens when third parties are held to account
In the past, we have heard many accusations that people were “greedy” pursuing compensation for injuries received at work. This is a complete misunderstanding of how the system works. It is only by holding employers to account that procedures will change, machinery will be better maintained, and staff training improved. Make no mistake; many of these potentially expensive changes may not have occurred without the dark clouds of legal action hanging over the heads of employers. Unless employees complain, how are the authorities supposed to know there is a problem?
So, if you have been injured due to negligence by one or more other parties, you should seriously consider your legal right to pursue compensation. We can only imagine the number of people with perfectly valid compensation claims that have decided not to pursue negligent parties.