When can I make a personal injury claim?
You can make a personal injury claim whenever you have been physically or psychologically injured in an accident for which someone else was to blame or where an injury has occurred as a result of a criminal act in which you were an innocent bystander.
A claim can also be made for injuries suffered by a close relative where they are unable to claim for themselves, for example due to their age, the severity of their injuries or because they have since passed away.
What can I claim for?
The type of things you can claim for will vary depending on how your injuries were caused, who you are claiming against and whether your claim is governed by English law or the law of another country, for instance where you have been hurt in an accident abroad.
In most cases a claim can be made for:
- the physical and psychological pain and suffering your injury has caused;
- the impact it has had on your quality of life;
- out of pocket expenses, such as prescription charges and travelling costs to attend medical appointments;
- loss of current and future earnings or pension entitlement;
- the cost of any equipment you have or will have to buy to help you cope; and
- the cost of providing you with immediate and longer term care.
In the event of a fatal accident, a claim can usually be made for:
- the grief you have and will continue to suffer;
- any medical expenses incurred before death,
- funeral costs; and
- the loss of any financial support your loved one provided.
In the event of a criminal act resulting in injury, a claim can usually be made for:
- physical or psychological injuries and the death of a loved one;
- physical or psychological harm caused by sexual or physical abuse; and
any associated loss of earnings or out of pocket expenses.
How much compensation am I likely to receive?
The amount of compensation you receive will vary depending on a number of factors, including:
- the severity of your injuries;
- how quickly you are likely to recover;
- whether any damage caused will be permanent;
- the immediate and longer term impact your injuries will have on your life, including your ability to continue to pursue your hobbies and to do things that you used to do before;
- whether you are likely to need ongoing care and whether this will be occasional or around the clock;
- whether you will have to give up work on a temporary or permanent basis; and
- how what has happened to you has and will continue to affect you financially.
Compensation for minor injuries from which a full and relatively speedy recovery can be expected will typically command payments of a few thousand pounds whereas the compensation for more serious life changing or life threatening injuries can result in payments running into hundreds of thousands if not millions of pounds.
Where a claim for compensation is made against the government then the amount of compensation you receive will usually be capped. This will be the case where a claim for injuries arising out of a violent criminal act is made to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and for asbestos related mesothelioma claims made under the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payments Scheme where neither the responsible employer nor their insurer can be found.
Can you help with medical treatment and rehabilitation?
Yes. Whenever a personal injury claim is made consideration will be given to whether there is anything that can be done to help you recover more fully or more quickly. Where we believe that there are things which could help we will discuss these with the person or organisation we are proposing to sue on your behalf (or, in many cases their insurer) to see whether they would be prepared to pay for these things to give you the best chance of getting your life back on track as soon as possible.
Our request for help has to be considered seriously because under the rules which govern personal injury claims there is an obligation to assess at any early stage, in every case, whether you would be likely to benefit from any further medical treatment, rehabilitative services such as physiotherapy or counselling, mobility aids and specialist equipment or professional support while you attempt a phased return to work. These rules are set out in the Personal Injury Pre-Action Protocol and the Personal Injury Rehabilitation Code.
Generally speaking where we ask for advanced funding we get it, particularly in cases involving serious injury where the party we propose to sue is clearly at fault and acknowledges this.
We can also often secure a voluntary payment to help tide you over financially if you are beginning to struggle with a drop in wages and increased overheads. Alternatively we can seek a compulsory interim payment order from the court which will entitle you to an early payment on account of any compensation you are likely to receive.
Will you look at my case, even if I have been turned away by another lawyer?
Yes. We are always happy to provide a second opinion where you have been told by another lawyer that your case is not strong enough to proceed or where they believe the time limit for bringing a claim has expired and there are no exceptional circumstances justifying an extension.When you come to see us we will assess your case afresh and if we believe a claim is possible we will tell you.
What is the process for making a claim?
The process for making a claim will vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of injury you have suffered, whether the person or organisation we say is to blame admits responsibility and whether the amount of compensation we are trying to claim on your behalf is agreed or disputed.
Broadly speaking, when you ask us to deal with a claim we will:
- arrange a meeting with you to find out exactly what has happened, the injuries you have suffered and how they have affected you physically, emotionally and financially;
- assess the likely value of your claim based on what you have told us, together with our knowledge of the amount of compensation awarded for similar injuries in similar cases;
- write to the person or organisation we believe to be at fault to tell them that a claim is going to be made and to ask them whether they admit or deny responsibility;
- try to negotiate an out of court settlement where your claim is admitted;
- gather the evidence needed to take your case to court where your claim is denied, which will include preparing a witness statement for you and anyone else who saw what happened, obtaining medical reports from your GP and any other healthcare professionals who have treated you and commissioning experts to provide an opinion on any aspects of your case that are unclear;
- issue court proceedings where an out of court settlement cannot be reached;
- represent you at the hearing of your claim, presenting your case as strongly and compellingly as possible;
- recover any compensation award that is made in your favour; and
signpost you to professional advisors who can help you to manage your money and set up a personal injury compensation trust if necessary to preserve your entitlement to claim means tested state or local authority benefits.
Will I have to go to court?
Possibly, it depends on whether the person or organisation we say is to blame for your injuries admits they were at fault and agrees to pay an acceptable amount of compensation. If they do then an out of court settlement will be a real possibility. However, in other cases a court hearing will be needed to determine your claim and decide whether or not a compensation award ought to be made.
Where attendance at court is required this should not be a cause for concern as we will be there to support you. We will explain the process, ensure your case is fully prepared and that it is presented in the best possible light to maximise your chances of walking away with a positive result.
How much will it cost me to make a claim?
In most cases there will be no upfront costs to pay to make a personal injury claim. This is because in the majority of cases we can deal with your claim under a conditional fee arrangement, more commonly known as a ‘no win, no fee’ deal. Full details of how this type of funding arrangement works can be found in our costs information guide, but in essence under such an arrangement we will agree not to charge you for our services if we are not successful in recovering compensation on your behalf and you will agree that if we are successful we can take a small slice of your compensation by way of reward.
Insurance will be arranged to cover any other costs which may arise and which should mean that, unless the claim you have made is fraudulent or bad in some other way, you will not be exposed to any financial risk even if your claim for compensation ultimately fails.
How quickly will my claim be dealt with?
The time it takes to deal with your claim will depend on a number of factors, including whether the person or organisation we are holding responsible for your injuries admits they were at fault and agrees with our assessment of the compensation you are entitled to. The severity of your injuries will also be relevant, particularly where it is not immediately clear what the long term prognosis is and therefore how much ongoing care and financial support you are likely to need.
By way of example, a straightforward claim for compensation for an injury arising out of a road traffic accident, accident at work or accident at a property may take between two to 12 months to resolve where fault is admitted and the amount of compensation sought is relatively low. However, an injury arising out of a slip, trip or fall or dog bite or animal attack which results in serious injury giving rise to a substantial compensation claim may take one to three years to resolve or even longer where the case is particularly complex.
You should not be put off making a claim because of the time it may take to deal with. Once the wheels have been put in motion it is often possible for us to secure a payment on account of any compensation you are likely to receive to ensure that you can cope financially while your claim is being assessed. Immediate financial help can also usually be obtained to pay for things like private medical treatment, physiotherapy, counselling services and mobility aids which can greatly improve your chances of making a good recovery.
Is there a time limit for making a claim?
Yes. All personal injury claims are subject to time limits and if you fail to claim within the limit that applies to your case then there is a high probability that a claim will not be possible.
The usual time limit for the vast majority of cases is three years from the date on which your injury occurred or the date on which you became aware of the injury where it took some time to become obvious. However, there are some notable exceptions where a different time limit will apply, including:
- where you were under the age of 18 at the time of the injury, in which case you will have until you turn 21 to make a claim;
- where you are making a claim on behalf of a child, in which case you will have until the child turns 18;
- where you are a relative bringing a claim on behalf of a loved one who has died, in which case you will have three years from the date of their death or your knowledge that they died because of the injury you wish to claim for;
- where you have been suffering from a physical or psychological injury that has made it impossible for you to claim within the usual three year period, in which case you will have three years from the date upon which you recover sufficiently to enable a claim to be made;
- where you are making a claim for criminal injuries compensation, in which case you will have a maximum of two years from the date of injury to take action;
- where you are making a claim for injuries sustained on an aeroplane or boat, in which case you will have between two and three years in which to claim depending on the nature of your journey and how it was booked; and
- where you are making a claim under Human Rights laws, in which case you will have only 12 months in which to submit a claim.
These time limits are strictly enforced so you should take legal advice as soon as possible.
Can you help me set up a personal injury trust?
Yes, if you are on means tested state or local authority benefits and we believe that a personal injury compensation trust would be appropriate, which will generally be the case if you have received a compensation payment of more than £6,000. This is because under the rules governing means tested benefits you and anyone living in your household can only have access to up to £6,000 in capital or savings without your entitlement to those benefits being reduced and must in no circumstances have access to more than £16,000 or your benefits will be stopped.
A personal injury compensation trust is a device that can be used to help prevent your benefit payments being affected by the compensation you have received. It works by transferring your compensation into a trust which is operated by people independent of you who will manage it on your behalf and drip feed you funds as and when needed.
We will tell you where we think a personal injury compensation trust may be appropriate and help you to make arrangements for one to be established. This must be done within 52 weeks of you receiving your final compensation payment or an interim payment as appropriate.