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Frequently Asked Questions

As more and more people seem to look to hold negligent parties to account, claiming compensation through the courts, there are many frequently asked questions. In some cases these questions seem so “straightforward” that some people are afraid to ask them. The truth is that when pursuing a claim for compensation it is advisable to know the process, the potential timescale and the options for both the defendant and the complainant.

We will now take a look at some of the more frequently asked questions in relation to personal injury compensation claims. You can jump to a specific question by clicking on the relevant link below.

What Defines A Personal Injury Claim?

This is one of the more common questions and one which is very easy to answer. If you have been injured as a consequence of negligence by one or more third parties (individuals or companies) then you may well have a claim for compensation. The key to any compensation claim is full of partial negligence which can then lead to an admission of liability and compensation.

Is There A Time Limit To Lodge A Personal Injury Claim?

In the vast majority of claims, there is a three-year window during which a claim for compensation must be lodged. As injuries are traditionally diagnosed immediately after the accident, the three-year window tends to begin on the date of the accident. There are cases involving children, and those unable to manage their own affairs, where the window can be extended. Also, in the event of an injury/illness diagnosed many years down the line, the three-year time limit is set to the date of diagnosis. In recent times this scenario has been highlighted by asbestos and vibration white finger compensation claims.

What Is The Deadline For Child Injuries And Claiming Compensation?

The law defines a child as an individual under-18 years of age. As a consequence, there are very different rules regarding child injuries and personal injury compensation claims. While very often a case for compensation may be taken up immediately after the incident, by a parent or appointed party, this is not always the case. There is also the opportunity to claim compensation for injuries received as a child, as a consequence of negligence, during the three-year period from the individual’s 18th birthday. The idea behind this is to allow child victims to decide whether to pursue compensation when they reach adulthood. There may be situations where they disagree with parents and appointed parties who may have decided against claiming compensation immediately after an accident.

How Much Does It Cost To Lodge A Personal Injury Claim?

The vast majority of personal injury compensation claims will be pursued under a No Win No Fee arrangement. In the event that a solicitor believes you have a good chance of success they will likely offer this kind of deal. In exchange for absorbing legal expenses accumulated pursuing your claim they will agree with the claimant what is known as a “success fee”. Traditionally this is around 25% of any compensation award which is payable to the solicitor.

There is also the option to pursue a compensation claim via the more traditional legal paid services route. In this instance the solicitor would charge for their services and have no claim of any element of compensation awarded.

Can I Apply For Legal Aid?

The growth in No Win No Fee personal injury claims began when the UK government withdrew legal aid for personal injury claims back in 2000. There may well be exceptional circumstances where legal aid could be available but as a general rule of thumb, it will not be an option. There are many reasons why legal aid was removed for this particular type of legal action – the ever-growing number of fraudulent claims featuring strongly.

Do I Pay Tax On Personal Injury Compensation?

This is one of the easier questions to clear up; there is no tax liability on compensation awards which also includes expenses associated with the injury. There is a slight quirk when it comes to interest payments. Interest paid on compensation/expenses from the date of the injury up to the date the compensation was agreed is also free of tax. However, if for some reason payment of a compensation award was delayed, and interest was added to the final figure, this additional interest would be liable to tax. It would therefore need to be added to your tax return although it is unlikely to create a significant tax liability.

Who Pays The Compensation?

In the past, we have seen situations where companies have encouraged employees not to pursue compensation claims “for the good of the company”. A number of potential claimants have also failed to follow through because they believed that the defendant would not be able to afford any compensation award. While cases will vary, in general, it is insurance companies that are forced to cover the cost of compensation claims. This could be an individual involved in a road traffic accident or an employer found liable for an accident involving an employee.

There are also various compensation schemes, some funded by the insurance industry, which will cover compensation where liable parties cannot be traced.

Who Will Pay A Claimants Legal Fees?

The idea of being left with potentially huge legal fees as a consequence of a failed personal injury compensation claim has led to a significant rise in the number of No Win No Fee arrangements. This ensures that parties with a perfectly valid compensation claim, although maybe lacking funds to secure legal representation, still have the option to pursue negligent parties. In order for a claims management company to take on such claims, there must be a strong case. In the event of a failed prosecution, the claims management company will cover the claimant’s legal fees.

Do I Need To Split Compensation With My Personal Injury Solicitor?

As we touched on above, the vast majority of personal injury claims are now carried out under the umbrella of a No Win No Fee arrangement. This ensures that only relevant cases reach the courts although there is still significant risk being undertaken by the law firm. In the event of a failed prosecution, which could occur for many different reasons, they could be left with substantial legal expenses.

As a consequence, a traditional No Win No Fee arrangement will also include an agreed split of any compensation between the law firm and the claimant. This reflects the degree of risk taken on by law firms and offers an additional reward above and beyond their legal expenses.

What Happens If I Was Partially Responsible For The Accident?

We have seen many cases where victims have been partially responsible for accidents that led to injuries and suffering. While “common sense” may prompt victims not to pursue compensation, this is not necessarily the correct route. If a victim was only partially responsible for an accident then by definition one or more other parties must also be partially responsible. In this situation it is perfectly reasonable to pursue a claim and where shared negligence is agreed any compensation payment would be reduced accordingly.

Partial Responsibility Due To Lack Of Training

Carrying on from the above question regarding partial responsibility, we have seen many situations where individuals have been injured at work. While on the surface it may appear that they were at least partially responsible this may not always be the case. If an individual was placed in a situation for which they lacked the relevant experience or training, even if they were partially responsible for an accident, it may be possible to pursue full negligence from an employer for example.

The reasoning behind this is simple; it is the duty of an employer to ensure that employees have the relevant experience/training for any roles which they undertake.

Who Do I Claim Against Where Multiple Parties Were Negligent?

We can only estimate the number of claims which have gone unreported simply because the claimant was unable to apportion blame to various parties involved. It is vital to remember that where multiple parties have been negligent, resulting in injury/illness, it is not the defendant’s place to apportion blame. There will be occasions where the parties involved will agree on a level of liability and the cost of any compensation settlement. However, in the vast majority of cases, we tend to see shared negligence claims heard in front of the courts.

The defendant may be called to give evidence but it is highly likely that all parties have already accepted some level of liability. As a consequence, the role of the court is simply to apportion blame and share of any compensation award and expenses due to the claimant.

Can I Claim Compensation For Somebody Else?

There is also a common misconception that in the event of death, as a consequence of negligence by a third party, any potential compensation claim passes with the victim. This is simply not the case. There may also be situations where the victim is unable to pursue a prosecution due to the injuries received or resulting medical condition. In this situation, it is perfectly legitimate for an appointed party to pursue a claim on their behalf. So, whether the victim has passed away, or is physically unable to pursue a claim for various reasons, third parties can pursue compensation on their behalf.

Is It Possible To Claim For Psychological Damage?

There is an assumption amongst the general public that compensation payments for personal injuries are exclusively associated with physical injuries. This is not the case. Many years ago the courts recognised psychological damage as a consequence of negligence. Therefore, psychological and physical injuries are treated in the same manner and are just as likely to attract compensation. Psychological injuries would obviously be diagnosed by an expert in that particular field. However, personal injury solicitors have access to an array of specialists so diagnosis will not be a problem.

There may also be occasions where third parties (connected or unconnected) to the victim may also be able to claim psychological damage as a consequence of the accident.

Can I Claim For Non-Medical Expenses Associated With My Injuries?

Many people automatically assume that you’re only able to claim expenses for direct medical costs. You can claim for any expense incurred as a consequence of injuries/illness brought about by third-party negligence. This may include expenses from travel costs to structural changes to your home and more. Expense claims will be considered on a claim by claim basis but if it is a direct consequence of the injury/illness in question then it is likely to be treated with favour.

Will I Get The Sack If I Claim Against An Employer?

There is no doubt that job security is one of the main reasons why a whole host of potential claims are not pursued against employers. There are a number of factors to consider when claiming against your employer.

Firstly, the payment of compensation is one of the strongest ways in which to encourage change in the workplace. This leads to increased safety for colleagues and future employees. Secondly, claimants are protected by law (whistleblowing regulations apply here) with an employer prohibited from any kind of discrimination, bullying or harassment. Thirdly, while some employers may use “emotional blackmail” it is worth remembering that the vast majority of personal injury compensation awards are funded through insurance. They do not have a direct impact on the financial well-being of the employer.

I Have Been Contacted Directly By The Defendant, Should I Accept Their Offer Of Compensation?

The art of negotiating a compensation settlement is no different to any other type of negotiation. The likelihood is that a first offer will have scope for improvement and if you are contacted directly by the defendant it is imperative you take independent advice. This is where personal injury solicitors come into their own, using their experience and contacts to calculate a fair offer.

Some defendants may also look to capitalise on significant expenses and short-term cash flow difficulties for the claimant, by offering a relatively low compensation award. A personal injury solicitor will likely be able to secure an interim payment in the event of excessive expenses which would be deducted from the final payment. Obviously, there is an assumption that liability has been proven and accepted by the defendant in such scenarios. Some people will see personal injury solicitors as an unnecessary expense when they should really be seen as an investment in securing the best possible outcome.

Will I Be Interrogated In Court?

The reality is that nobody enjoys an appearance in a courtroom, especially those who may be interrogated and their version of events called into question. Historically, many people have decided not to pursue perfectly legitimate compensation claims because of a fear of having to appear in court. The reality is that the vast majority of personal injury claims are settled outside of the courtroom prior to any hearing.

However, even if the parties are not able to come to an arrangement before a hearing, the courts will be presented with witness statements. While unlikely, there may well be situations where the claimant will be questioned in court. Even in this uncommon scenario they will be prepped and supported by their claims management representatives.

Ask A Personal Injury Solicitor

If you have any questions or queries regarding the personal injury claim system, how it works and any potential level of compensation, ask a personal injury solicitor. Most will have experience across an array of different fields and be able to advise you accordingly. Even if they were unable to answer your question immediately, they will likely have various contacts they can utilise to clarify the situation.

Remember, as the claimant you are not on trial. If you are able to prove negligence and liability then compensation will follow.

More detailed answers to frequently asked questions in relation to personal injury claims can be found here.

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