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.
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.
Will I Have To Appear In Court And Answer Questions?
When you approach a personal injury solicitor they will review your case. In the event that they believe you have a good chance of success they will likely agree to take on your claim. This is the first filter for cases less likely to be successful therefore reducing the chances of the claimant being forced to appear in court. In cases where liability is disputed, the claimant may be asked to give evidence. However, it is worth remembering that the claimant is not the party on trial!
The vast majority of personal injury compensation claims are settled out of court to save costs for the defendant and ensure that the claimant receives compensation/expenses in a swift manner.
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, 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 upon the financial well-being of the employer.
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.
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.
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 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 for psychological damage as a consequence of the accident.
My Partner Was Killed In An Accident; Can I Claim Compensation On Behalf Of Them?
If an individual was killed as a consequence of negligence by a third party this does not necessarily end any compensation claims. The partner, guardian or legal representative of the deceased will likely be able to pursue compensation for death as a consequence of negligence. The idea that in the event of death, compensation claims and expenses die with the victim is a common misunderstanding of the system. Any compensation/expenses awarded would be done so in the exact same manner as if the victim was still alive and pursuing the claim themselves.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 question can be found through the link below.