Whether taking action as a consequence of a road traffic accident, injuries received in the workplace, or any other form of negligence, more people are now pursuing personal injury claims. The intricacies of UK law are challenging at the best of times. However, there are numerous other ways in which individuals have seen perfectly valid compensation claims fall by the wayside.
It is important to be aware of the challenges when pursuing compensation. What you can and cannot do, the advice you should seek and the actions you should take. It is not always straightforward!
Some of the more common reasons why a perfectly valid personal injury claim may fail include:-
Embellishing the truth
When you approach a personal injury claims company, it is important to present your case with supporting evidence. There have been numerous occasions where perfectly valid claims have been rebuked as a consequence of claimants “embellishing the truth”. We are not suggesting that some claimants will lie, but there have been instances where a very strong basic claim has very suddenly grown arms and legs. If you have been injured as a consequence of negligence then say so, don’t embellish the story, and certainly don’t lie.
In recent times we have seen a significant rise in the number of insurance companies prosecuting those pursuing fraudulent claims. These prosecutions are a means of issuing a subtle warning to others thinking along the same lines. Indeed, while at worst some may expect a small fine, a number of those successfully prosecuted have served time in prison. The problem with a lie/embellishing the truth is that very often the real truth will come out. Once you’re standing as a credible witness has been successfully challenged, this can mean even strong claims being thrown out of court.
Talking to the wrong people
If you have a relatively strong claim for compensation, as a consequence of negligence, it can be tempting to talk to friends, family, and work acquaintances. There are two things to consider in this scenario:-
- Take advice from the professionals
When talking to friends, family, and acquaintances, many can very quickly become experts in personal injury claims. They will give you “advice” which may encourage you to pursue a relatively weak claim or fail to pursue a strong claim. The Internet is also a hive of information regarding personal injury claims, although again this can be misleading. If you are considering pursuing personal injury compensation then you should gather evidence, speak to the experts and take their advice.
- Rumours and misunderstandings
It is very easy to get into a situation where different people have a different understanding of your injuries and your claim for negligence. This can very quickly lead to rumours and misunderstandings, some of which may emerge in the courtroom. As we touched on above, if a defendant is able to call into question your account of the accident, and resulting injuries, this can make even a relatively strong claim more difficult to pursue.
If you are looking to pursue compensation, speak to the experts, avoid tittle-tattle with friends and family, at least until the case is over.
Avoid social media at all costs
Many people seeking compensation for negligence and resulting injuries often experience the power of social media to their detriment. While there have been rumours and counter rumours over the years, it is true, insurers will often peruse your social media activity once you have lodged a claim. This has led to numerous counterclaims in the courtroom such as:-
- Recorded activities not in line with alleged injuries
- Suggestions that the truth may have been embellished
- Slanderous comments regarding the defendant can lead to counterclaims
While many social media comments regarding your ongoing claim for compensation may be perfectly innocent, they can sometimes be taken out of context. At the other end of the spectrum, there have been numerous cases of individuals claiming compensation for non-existent serious injuries. For example, some people claiming compensation for serious leg injuries have in the past been photographed waterskiing and undertaking other very physical activities. Not a good look!
So, it is advisable not to discuss an ongoing claim either with friends, family, and acquaintances, or via social media. There will be plenty of time to give your side of the story when you have successfully held the negligent parties to account!
Failing to lodge your claim in time
When considering a claim for compensation, there are three different timescales to consider depending on the situation. They include:
- The traditional window of opportunity
The vast majority of personal injury compensation claims are lodged within three years of the accident. This is because injuries are often obvious, and diagnosed, in the immediate aftermath of an accident.
- Three years from diagnosis
While predominantly medical compensation claims, the three-year window of opportunity starting from the date of diagnosis can take in other accidents and injuries. The idea is simple. If you developed a medical condition as a consequence of negligence by a medical practitioner, this may not be diagnosed immediately. Therefore, where the diagnosis is not made on the date of the incident, the claims window will begin from the date of diagnosis.
- Minors turning 18 years of age
Where negligence has led to an injury for individuals under 18 years of age, they are not legally allowed to pursue their own compensation claim. In the vast majority of cases, parents, guardians and legal representatives will take on any compensation claim. However, there is the option for the injured party to postpone any compensation claim until they turn 18. At this point, the three-year window of opportunity will open.
These three alternative windows of opportunity to lodge a claim for compensation cover the vast majority of scenarios. Therefore, if you fail to lodge a claim within the relevant time period it can be difficult (though not impossible) to apply for a legal extension. If in doubt, take advice from the professionals.
Failing to follow medical advice
If you want your car fixed, take the advice of a mechanic, if you want your injuries treated, it stands to reason you should take advice from the medical profession. Many people may therefore be surprised to learn that numerous individuals, pursuing personal injury compensation, have failed to take medical advice. You can take it for granted that insurance companies will be monitoring treatment and the severity of injuries reported by claimants. If they become aware of missed appointments or failure to take medicine/treatment available, they could argue:-
- The claimant was not as badly injured as they made out
Defendants and their legal teams will look at various ways to besmirch your character and challenge your evidence. If they were to find out you missed appointments, failed to take medicine, or attend physio sessions, they would certainly use this to your detriment. The theory is simple; if you weren’t heeding medical advice then perhaps you weren’t as injured as you suggested?
- Exacerbating your injuries/condition
In the event that you failed to take your medicine, or attend appointments for additional treatment, suggestions of exacerbating your injuries seem perfectly valid. Some of these oversights may have been perfectly legitimate, innocent even, but they certainly don’t help your case. It is important not only for your own health that you take the advice of medical professionals but also as a means of supporting your case.
Premature acceptance of compensation
The premature acceptance of compensation from a successful personal injury claim tends to occur most when individuals represent themselves. Records show that personal injury claims companies have a better record in negotiating and extracting the maximum amount of compensation. We have also seen situations where victims have not made their doctor fully aware of their injuries. This is one of the more common scenarios, failing to report additional discomfort after the initial diagnosis.
More relevant to medical cases, we often see compensation claims lasting many months or even years. While this is often a consequence of the complications associated with medical claims, it can be a delaying tactic to ensure that all associated injuries are diagnosed and recorded. We know that some injuries can take weeks, months, or even years to emerge after the event. Once you have accepted compensation for your injuries it is very difficult, if not impossible, to reopen the case, should additional complications emerge.
When looking at the above issues, which could in theory scupper perfectly valid compensation claims, one line of thought emerges, take advice from the experts. Whether monitoring your social media, talking to friends and colleagues, or seeking clarification of medical issues, the defendant’s legal team will not be sitting idle. It is therefore important that you refrain from embellishing the truth, seek and take medical advice, and ensure that your claim is made on time. If the defendant is able to cast doubt on your recollection of the incident, this could weaken even the strongest of cases.
As soon as you give even the merest consideration to taking legal action, that is the time to refrain from discussing this with anyone but your personal injury claims solicitor. They will consider your evidence, details of the incident, and advise you of the merits of your case. Thankfully, the majority of UK personal injury claims companies have been there and done it, and are able to give very useful advice to their clients.