Personal Injury Claim
What are Personal Injury Claims or Civil Claims?
Although we usually think of courts as places where criminal trials take place, the civil courts also deal with an enormous range of cases: disagreements between neighbours, people who have been involved in a personal injury, injured in an accident at work or on the road, faulty goods; the kind of things that go wrong in everyday life and sometimes cannot be sorted out without outside help. The ultimate way of resolving such matters in the civil courts is to have a trial, when the evidence and arguments are heard by a judge, who then decides all matters in dispute and gives judgement for one side or the other.
Reasons why you might want to pursue a Personal Injury Claim
Getting started on your Injury Claim
What to take to the first meeting
Your solicitor will want to have as much detail about the background of your case as possible. In order to help him or her advise you properly and make further enquiries on your behalf, you can:
- Prepare a chronology or sequence of events, setting everything out in the order in which it happened along with the date on which it occurred.
- Make a list of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of anybody who may be able and willing to act as a witness for you.
- Collect together any documents including letters and photographs (if in a car accident), that relate to your claim.
- If you think you might be eligible for legal aid, make a note of your income and if you are living with someone, that of your partner.
- If you think your claim may be covered by legal expenses insurance under a motor or household policy, have a copy of the policy to hand.
- Make a list of all the questions you want to ask.
- If the person at fault has a solicitor, make a note of their name and where they are based.
It will already be obvious that the paperwork, even for a simple personal injury claim can be expensive. It is a good idea to keep it together in a file so that everything you need is to hand.
Meeting your Personal Injury Lawyer
The person dealing with your personal injury claim will not necessarily be a solicitor. It is not unusual for a civil litigation to be conducted by a legal executive, an experienced paralegal or an accident management company. If you are worried that they are not senior enough, you should raise this at an early stage. The easiest way of doing this is to find out who is in charge of civil litigation at the firm and write to them explaining the nature of your personal injury claim and setting out your concerns. Even if your legal adviser is not a qualified solicitor, he or she will be working under the supervision of somebody who is and in the vast majority of cases, you can be confident that the person advising you knows what he or she is doing. So as long as you feel happy with your service and advice you are receiving, the fact that your Ďsolicitorí is not, in fact a solicitor should not be a problem.
After the first meeting you should receive a letter setting out in detail the information about costs, who will handle your case and what will happen next, which should have been discussed during your meeting. If you have any doubts, then it might be sensible to look for someone else at this stage as a change of solicitor later on can be very disruptive.
What happens next?
Your solicitor will now need to collect as much information as possible about your personal injury claim, not only from you but also from documents relating to the claim and any witnesses who are able to support your account of what happened.
It may also be necessary to get an experts report for example if your personal injury claim is for clinical negligence you will need a senior doctor from the same field of medicine as the one who treated you to say whether the treatment you received was negligent. This will all take some time, so unless your case is straight forward or very urgent, it may feel as if nothing much is happening for a while however it is necessary to do this right at the beginning: partly so that your solicitor can make a realistic assessment of whether you have a good case and partly because when your solicitor does approach the other side he or she will need to put as much information as possible in the letter to the other side setting out your case. Once the investigations are complete and providing they support your case your solicitor will be ready to put together all the information in support of your case in a formal letter of claim or response.
If liability is admitted
If you are the claimant and the letter of response has come back with an admission that the defendant is liable, you ought to breathe a sigh of relief and get on with the business of sorting out how much the defendant is going to pay you.
Personal injury Claim settlement
Your accident personal injury lawyer who is dealing with the claim and you will need to give careful thought to how far you are willing to go to reach an agreement with the person at fault for your personal injury. To do this you may find it helpful to take a long, hard look at how risky it would be to go to trial. Start by making a list of all the strengths and weak points of your case. First look at the evidence.
- Is there any documentary evidence that supports your account of what happened and how you sustained a personal injury?
- Are there any independent witnesses (including experts) who support your personal injury claim.
- If you are relying on friends or family to give evidence on your behalf, how well are they likely to cope with the pressure of giving evidence at a formal public hearing and, possibly, having to deal with hostile questioning?
- How clearly do you remember what happened?
Next, you need to think about the value of the personal injury claim:
- Do you have receipts or other proof of any expenses or losses you are claiming for?
- What advice has your personal injury lawyer or solicitor given you about what you can realistically expect to get or have to pay on a best-case and worst-case scenario?
Evidence to back your Compensation Claim
The following are examples of the kind of documents that are likely to feature in a personal injury claim:
- Estimates, quotations or written agreements.
- Medical records.
- Police reports.
- Accident investigation or Health and Safety Executive reports.
- Documents confirming expenses or financial loss, such as repair estimates, wage slips, bills, receipts, bookings etc.
Last but not least:
- Witness statements of facts
Although it does happen, there are very few personal injury claims in which everyone is agreed about the facts. This means that in most cases the judge at trial will have to decide which version of events he or she thinks is more likely.
The decision will be based on:
- Looking at the above documents
- Reading the written witness statements
- Listening to the witnesses at trial give their evidence and be cross-examined
It goes without saying that the more the various types of your evidence support one another, the more likely the judge is to find in your favour.
As a general rule the witness statements should include the facts necessary to support all the points in your statement of case. If they donít, you may find your opponent inviting the trial judge to discount parts of your personal injury claim because there is no formal evidence to back it up.
Expert evidence - often a case can only be resolved with the help of an expert, such as a doctor or an engineer, who is able to give an opinion on what the probable cause of a problem or medical condition is. In a personal injury claim you must attach a doctorís report, which your personal injury lawyer will do, to the particulars of the claim and even in a road traffic or factory accident it may be necessary for an engineer to report on how the accident happened and who, if anyone, was at fault.
Now who can these experts be?
- Doctor or consultant specialising in each type of personal injury suffered
- For severe injuries:
- Care experts.
- Occupational therapists.
- Employment consultants.
- For medical negligence:
- Consultant who practises in the same field as the doctor who treated you.
- Consultant who can give an opinion on whether your condition was caused by the treatment/negligence.
Your personal injury lawyer is a great asset to you. They will most likely know who or which experts to contact if certain statements or cross-examining is required. Please consult your personal injury lawyer, and do remember to keep your own records and medical reports.
Document checklist for a Personal Injury Claim
- Sketch plan and photographs.
- Witness statements.
- Any expert report Ė including a medical report.
- Invoices and estimates for repairs and documents relating to any other losses claimed, such as loss of earnings.
No Win No Fee
This is the term used to describe the Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) between a law firm and their client. In any claim, commercial or personal injury, this is an agreement between the client and their solicitor, which will enable the solicitor to take on a case on the understanding that if they lose the case, the client will not have to pay their solicitorís costs, but will still be responsible for the defendantís costs if the case is lost.
Compare Compensation Claims does not take a penny from you. You keep 100%, if not more, of your compensation. Compare Compensation Claims will not deduct any money from your personal injury claim, you keep what rightfully is yours and thats 100% compensation.
Compare Compensation Claims for your Personal Injury Claim
Take the hassle and stress out of making a personal injury claim. Use our services to compare personal injury lawyers throughout the UK and select a solicitor of your own choice based on what services and deals they provide you with. Make an informed choice and be at ease of mind that you and not anyone else, made an independent and informed choice as to who acts on your behalf. Compare Compensation Claims does not use pushy salesmen, we just provide you with options/choices and work for your best interest.