Making a Successful Compensation Claim, Step by Step Guide
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Step by Step Guide to Making a Compensation Claim
Injuries that are caused by the fault of another may give rise to a personal injury claim.
The most common types of personal injury claims are:
- Road traffic accidents
- Work place injuries
- Injuries in a public place
- Clinical negligence
- Product Liability
- Holiday accidents
- Accidents involving animals
- Injuries resulting from criminal offences
Personal injury claims are subject to time limitations. Under normal circumstances Court Proceedings must be issued within three years of the date of the accident. In the case of someone who has not reached 18 years of age the period begins to run when that person reaches 18. In Criminal Injuries Compensation claims there is a 2-year limitation period. There are limited exceptions to this rule which we will discuss with you if the limitation period is in question. It is important to seek advice as soon as possible rather than waiting. This gives us more time to gather evidence and build the best possible case for you.
Every case is different but the following is a general guidance to the steps taken in most personal injury claims.
- Vetting your claim
When you contact the Personal Injury team at Latimer Lee, we will take details about the accident. These will be reviewed by a senior solicitor and we will advise you whether initially we believe you have a good claim and whether we would be able to represent you. If so, we will set up your file, send you documentation to sign and arrange funding.
|*No win no fee*|
Public funding is not available for personal injury claims. It is important for you to check initially whether you have trade union or legal expense insurance. If none of these sources of funding are available to you, we will consider whether we are able to deal with the matter on a no win no fee basis.
If you have entered a Conditional Fee Agreement (no win no fee) with us and your claim fails, you will not be liable to pay our costs save in limited circumstances if you provide us with fraudulent information and/or you fail to cooperate with us. If your claim succeeds, we will be able to recover our disbursements and some of our costs from the opponent except for an After the Event insurance premium*. We will also be entitled to charge a success fee capped at 25% from your damages.
*An After the Event insurance policy (which covers disbursements incurred in the claim, i.e costs of medical records, and potential costs’ liability to the Defendant if your claim is unsuccessful) may not be necessary in your claim. We will advise you if we recommend one in your particular case.
- Gathering evidence
We will start gathering evidence and information about the accident. We may ask you to provide photographs and witness details, among others.
|*There are things you can from the outset to assist your case. Writing down an account of what happened is very useful. This account is likely to be more accurate than your account 6 months later. If possible, take photos immediately after the accident. This may be of a pothole on the road or a piece of equipment at work. Photographs of any immediate injuries will also assist your claim. Try to make notes of the location of the accident and any potential witnesses*|
- Notification of your claim
Once we have sufficient information we will notify the party you believe are responsible for causing your accident and inform them that a claim is being made against them. They are known as the Defendant.
- Obtaining Medical Records
These are very important. Medical records may not be required for some road traffic accident claims but as a general rule, we will need to request them. They serve as evidence that you have been injured and the nature of those injuries. We recommend that you consult a medical professional (GP, hospital, walk-in-centre, etc) even in cases where you believe you will make a speedy recovery. It is not fatal to a claim not to visit a medical professional but you will have a much stronger case if the injuries and/or treatment are recorded.
- Defendant’s Response
Personal Injury claims are governed by the ‘pre-action protocol.’ This encourages exchange of information and is designed to help the parties to a dispute to resolve their case fairly quickly and without the need to go to Court. The pre-action protocol sets time limits which both parties should adhere to. After notification, we will await a response from the Defendant who should indicate whether liability is accepted or denied. If liability is accepted, the process tends to be more straight forward and the next step is for us to negotiate settlement on your behalf, if your medical evidence is finalised and if it is appropriate to do so. If liability is denied the Defendant must give reasons and provide documentation to support this decision. We would then conduct further investigations and dispute these reasons to try and secure an admission of liability.
- Obtaining Medical Evidence
When you bring a claim, you have to demonstrate that the person you are suing was responsible for the accident and was responsible for your injuries and financial losses. The injuries and the extent of these is something that medical experts are appointed to comment on. We will arrange a medical examination with a suitable expert who will comment on your injuries and when you are expected to make a recovery, if you have not already done so. The more complex your injuries are, the more complex the medical evidence will be. For instance, you may need to be referred to other specialists and/or undertake further investigations.
The aim of compensation is to return you as close as possible to the position you would have been in ‘but for’ the accident. There are 2 types of compensation that can be claimed for: General damages and Special damages.
|General Damages means payments for the personal injury that you have suffered as a result of the accident. It also includes pain, suffering and “loss of amenity”, i.e. the ways in which your life became less agreeable (e.g. domestic problems, less social life) after the accident.|
Special Damages is the term which means the financial losses you have suffered as a direct result of the accident. This includes such items as travelling expenses, medical expenses, prescriptions, physiotherapy, damage to property and personal affects and net loss of earnings. In addition, you may be able to claim future losses and/or expenses and interest.
General damages are based upon medical evidence. The amount of compensation encompasses how the injuries have affected you in the past and how they will affect you in the future, if applicable. Special damages are designed to put you back in the financial position you were in as if the accident had never occurred. Any receipts and invoices should be kept wherever possible to prove these losses.
As soon as we have all the documentary evidence in support of your claim this will be submitted to the Defendant and we will attempt to negotiate a settlement with them.
If the Defendant is prepared to make an offer, we will tell you about this and we will advise you about whether in our view the offer is sufficient. If the Defendant is not prepared to admit liability or if the offer is too low, we will then advise you about what to do next.
You may decide to take the matter to Court and with your authority we can issue court proceedings. This will mean that the question about who was responsible for the accident and the value of your claim will be decided by the Court.