Personal Injury Claims – 2020 Guide (UK)

Being injured is always horrid, but that doesn’t mean that claiming compensation has to be too. Personal injuries can have a terrible effect on your wellbeing, make previously simple tasks difficult, and end up losing you both money and peace of mind. Personal injuries don’t just cause physical damage, but can also result in emotional stress, and can have far-reaching ramifications in your personal life.  

When this is the case, it’s time to make a claim. 

This guide will help you to understand how to make a personal injury claim, through a detailed yet easy to understand step-by-step outline of the claims process. 

Making a personal injury claim doesn’t have to be a scary, tedious task, and this handy manual will serve as your ultimate guide to resolving a personal injury claim and getting the compensation that you are owed. 

What is personal injury? 

“Personal injury” is an umbrella term for when an individual has suffered an accident or injury. Under UK law, a personal injury is defined as when a person undergoes physical or psychological harm, or contracts an illness or disease. This is caused by negligence which wasn’t your fault, and could be a result of something like an accident at work, where your employer’s business is found to be legally responsible. 

Just as we all are expected to conduct ourselves in a certain manner, and by specific guidelines, so too are companies expected to conform to a set of standards. We all place an element of trust in our employers, and if businesses do not adhere to the correct requirements, then it can result in accidents, and personal injuries. 

Some examples of personal injuries are: 

  • Road accidents – one of the most common types of personal injury claims are in relation to road traffic accidents. This could be an accident involving two or more cars, and accident pertaining to a cyclist, or an incident where a pedestrian becomes unfortunately involved in a road accident.  Car accidents can not only cause physical injuries but are also sometimes responsible for dreadful mental damages, such as anxiety or PTSD. 
  • Slips and falls at work – sometimes caused by slippery surfaces such as ice, and sometimes caused by loose cables or insufficient lighting. 
  • Equipment failures – without the proper health and safety checks, the equipment can quickly become faulty, and hazardous. If an equipment failure leads to a personal injury, then your employer is likely liable for damages. 
  • Medical negligence – if a surgeon mishandles an operation, a GP makes a mistake, or a cosmetic procedure is botched, this would be considered medical negligence.
  • Loss of limbs or fingers, from machinery – in particularly horrific cases, a lack of safety precautions can result in the loss of fingers or even limbs. If you are a victim of this, you are more than likely entitled to severe compensation. 
  • Work-related accidents – this could be the result of people under the influence of alcohol in a bar, falling objects, badly maintained surfaces, or any other phenomena. 
  • An injury from hazardous materials – Many chemicals, commonly used in the workplace, can cause horrific damages, like poisoning, chemical burns, nervous system disorders, or severe rashes. If the proper preventative measures are not being taken by your employer, then they are liable for injuries caused by hazardous materials.

These are just a few examples that fit the criteria for personal injuries. The basis for a personal injury are wide and varied, and encompasses all manner of trauma and damages. 

Which injuries are claimable? 

There are several factors which might influence your case, and decide if you are able to make a personal injury claim, or if you are not entitled to compensation. Without medical evidence, you will be unable to make a personal injury claim, and a lack of sufficient proof will mean that your claim will likely be unsuccessful. The less evidence you have, the less likely you are to receive compensation.   

What is a personal injury claims company?

Personal injury claims companies are made up of specialists, such as lawyers and solicitors, with expertise relevant to personal injury claims. Whilst it is sometimes possible to make a claim without a specialist, this can be extremely difficult, and time-consuming. Making your claim through a company offers you the skills and experience of claims professionals, and greatly increases your chance of getting compensation.  

The pros and cons of using a personal injury claims company

Pros: 

  • Specialists are knowledgeable of the subject area and will provide their dedicated expertise. 
  • Personal injury lawyers will help you to navigate the specifics of making a claim and streamline the process for you. 
  • A specialist will help you to build a useful roster of relevant parties, such as doctors, or co-workers, who can substantiate your personal injury claim. 
  • A solicitor will know if the compensation which you are being offered by the defendant is reasonable or unreasonable. With the help of a specialist, it will be easier to discern the value of your claim, and if you are being treated fairly by the responsible party, 
  • Specialists have experience in personal injury claims cases and will be familiar with how to handle your case. 
  • There will likely be a varied roster of specialists available, and you be able to choose your preferred solicitor to help with your claim. 
  • Using a personal injury claim company highly increases both your chance of success and your chance to receive more compensation. 

Cons: 

  • Using a personal injury claims company will incur fees and costs which would not be present if you made the claim yourself. 
  • Going through multiple channels, and obtaining outside advice, can lengthen the claims process, and make your claim more drawn out than it needs to be.
  • There is no legal obligation to use a personal injury claims company, and you are fully entitled to pursue a claim without outside assistance.

Making a Claim

Following an injury, you need to reach out to a personal injury solicitor, if you want to claim compensation. There are precise rules about the timeframe in which this action can be taken, so you must contact a solicitor as soon as is possible. In the UK, there is a three year limit, after the accident, where you are able to make a claim. 

This might sound like a daunting undertaking, but finding a personal injury solicitor is often surprisingly quick and easy. Most personal injury claims companies will offer claims specialists, who will provide free consultations. These specialists will examine your case, and swiftly offer their assessment of your claim. 

Your solicitor will then give you their judgement of the case, and decide whether or not they think that you have a valid claim. 

It is important to choose a specialist who does not rush or pressure you, and explains things clearly. Your personal injury solicitor will be crucial to the success of your case, so make sure to find an expert that you can trust and work with. 

The solicitor you choose will need information from you, such as; 

  • The date of your accident.
  • What happened, and what caused the accident. 
  • Medical diagnosis from your doctor, and any treatment that you have been given.
  • Any insurance policies which you have,

Building a case

Once you have settled on the right specialist for you, your personal injury solicitor will then start to gather evidence that is related to your injury, and begin building a case. Gathering evidence will likely include tasks such as taking photographs of the of the site of the accident, asking relevant parties questions about the accident, and collecting information about how the accident has affected your day-to-day life.

Workplaces will usually have an accident book which will contain details of your accident, and where it took place. 

Your solicitor will more than likely obtain a medical report of your accident, which will be used to support your claim. The medical report will detail your injuries, specify how your injury has affected your life, and well-being, and outline how long the recovery process will take. 

Your specialist will be able to claim for factors such as: 

  • General damages – This refers to the injury itself, and pertains to the suffering caused as a direct result of your accident.
  • Compensation of care and assistance – This regards to time spent by loved ones, like spouses or siblings, caring for you, following your injury. For example, if a loved one has to take time off of work to look after you, then that would come under-compensation of care and assistance and is relevant to your claim. 
  • Loss of earnings – Simply put, loss of earnings refers to money that you have lost, whilst away from work, as a result of your injury. 
  • Medical fees – This can include any equipment, or treatment, that you might need, as a result of your injury.
  • Future loss of earnings – If your injury forces you to retire, or you are no longer able to fulfil a certain role, as a result of your injury, than that is referred to as a loss of future earnings, and the defendant can be considered responsible for this. 
  • Loss of enjoyable employment – Your injury may mean that you are forced to switch roles in a company, and find yourself no longer working in a position which you enjoy. This is called “loss of enjoyable employment”. 
  • Loss of use vehicle – Perhaps due to a broken limb, or loss of sight, which makes you unable to drive, or maybe because your vehicle is now unusable.
  • Damage to clothing – Damage to clothing refers to incidents where your clothes may have been cut of by the emergency services, or become bloodstained. Particularly if you were wearing especially valuable clothes at the time (such as something designer), damage to clothing can be a relevant factor in your personal injury claim. 

Calculating compensation.

Once your solicitor has an understanding of how much pain and suffering the accident has caused you (taking into consideration factors like how your general quality of life, sleep pattern, and ability to perform day-to-day tasks have been damaged by the accident) your solicitor will then calculate how much they think you are entitled to claim. 

Your solicitor will then write a letter to the person or persons responsible for your claim, which will explain the details of your accident, and how the defendant is responsible for your injury. This might be due to negligence on your employer’s behalf, unsafe working conditions, or something similar. 

Settling in or out of court

If the defendant disputes your claim, then the matter will be settled in court. The process of settling in court is one which you would discuss with your personal injury solicitor, so that you were familiar with the ins and outs of the dispute, and what would be required of you. Settling a matter in court can also result in court-appointed compensation. 

In most cases, however, personal injury claims are settled out of court. If the defendant accepts responsibility (or liability) for your injury, then your personal injury solicitor will discuss the claim with the defendants solicitor, and agree upon the appropriate level of compensation which you are owed. 

If you do not agree upon the level of compensation that you are offered, then it is possible to negotiate for a higher amount. 

Once suitable compensation has been agreed upon, you should receive your compensation up to 28 days after the date of the settlement. If your claim is settled out of court, you will usually receive compensation before then.  

To Conclude

This guide has summarised the personal injury claims process, and provided information on each step of the way. Whilst making a claim can seem scary, and overwhelming, the ultimate guide to personal injuries claims offers a convenient outline of how to make a personal injury claim. The guide details what constitutes a valid personal injury claim, lists examples of accidents and incidents which typically cause personal injuries, and highlights the differences between settling a personal injury claim in and out of court.