It’s one of those things you hope never to have to do, make a personal injury claim. But if you’re here because you have to make a claim and you don’t know where to start then we’ll try and walk you through the most common situations and point you in the right direction.
The term ‘personal injury’ covers a wide field. It is used to refer to situations where physical damage is caused, for instance, a broken bone caused by falling over a paving slab or by a work-related incident or accident. It is quite often used in cases where negligence against the plaintiff can be shown. Road traffic accident injury claims make up a large number of personal injury cases, where the driver alleged to be at fault is pursued through the courts for compensation by other people caught up in the accident. This could be for loss of income caused by a period of sick leave, an episode of whiplash, or possibly psychological trauma from the aftermath of the accident. Personal injury claims can also be made for mental distress caused by childhood abuse or harassment at work. Often solicitors specialising in injury claim law will have contacts to help their clients overcome the feelings that making a claim can cause. Often, these types of claims can be settled out of court, which may be slightly easier for the claimant
Personal injury claims are a huge market and it pays to spend time researching if you intend to launch legal proceedings. There are any number of ‘no-win-no-fee’ firms around as well as experienced companies with years of experience. Some specialise in particular areas of injury claim law, others are more generalist. It’s certainly lucrative – you can tell that by the number of scam emails and texts on the topic. You know the type: ‘you are owed (random four figure sum) from the accident you had last Thursday.’ Those kinds of messages are not to be trusted, but if you have recently suffered an injury and feel the need to claim, you could stand to benefit by approaching an expert lawyer.
The high profile injury claims are the ones which make the headlines, but many others go unreported, just celebrated by the affected families as a small victory and a chance to make the life of the claimant a little easier. The sums awarded in injury compensation can often be used to adapt a home where a personal injury has resulted in disablement, or to move away from the scene of a crime or abuse. Unfortunately, the term ‘personal injury’ also includes death as a result of the injury suffered, and sometimes, the accident injury claim is made by surviving family members and takes the form of a monetary award to them.
Also covered in the term ‘personal injury claim’ are incidents resulting from slips, trips and falls at work. These are one of the biggest causes of time off sick and where long term injury is caused, the sufferer may have a legitimate claim for compensation from the company. Repetitive strain injury, or RSI, also falls into the area of workplace injury, so a secretary or factory line worker whose workload causes them to develop this injury through repetitive action with no mitigation would be in line to consider a claim. That’s why many companies are so keen these days to ensure that every worker has completed a risk assessment of their office area and desk space when they start work or move offices, so that any issues can be addressed before they result in injury and legal proceedings.
Injury claim law can be complex, and there are time limits relating to claims which have to be borne in mind. In the UK, generally a claim must be made within three years of the date of the incident. If the effects of the injury are delayed, for instance when it involves a respiratory disease linked to workplace exposure, then a claim should be lodged within three years of that date. There has to be clear evidence that the disease was caused by workplace exposure, however.
In cases where death results from the personal injury, the three year claim period usually runs from the date of death. If a claimant is part of the way through a personal injury claim when they pass on, the claim period is null and void and the deceased person’s family have three further years to place their injury claim.
If the claimant is a child, the time period for lodging a personal injury compensation claim is three years from the date of their 18th birthday. For mental health patients, that three year time period begins from the date of their discharge from the care of the mental health services.
This advice only applies to personal injury claims for incidents in the UK. If your accident or incident occurred elsewhere in the world you should seek legal advice as soon as possible after the incident to clarify your right to personal injury compensation.
For those people whose lives have been seriously affected by an injury, winning personal injury compensation can make a difference to their future. The amount awarded may allow them to retrain, to buy adaptive equipment, to move away from an area which triggers memories and to know that their families are provided for after their death. Making a personal injury claim can be a long drawn out process, but it can also be worth it for your peace of mind.