Claiming Compensation for Injuries
If you have been a victim of an accident or an injury which was not primarily your fault, you should be entitled to claim compensation for injuries. Compensation for injuries is reparation for the physical and emotional trauma you experience due to somebody else´s lack of care, the effect their lack of care has made to your quality of life and any financial costs you have incurred due to that person´s negligence.
Although most people are aware that it is possible to claim compensation for injuries, not everybody who is entitled to do so actually proceeds with an injury compensation claim. There are many reasons for this including the potential cost, concerns about relationships when the negligent party is an employer or personal friend or fear of the unknown. Many people who contact us are initially apprehensive about claiming compensation for injuries, and we aim to put your mind at rest in this article.
There Has To Be An Injury
One of the first matters to note is that a personal injury claim is a claim for a real physical or psychological injury that you have suffered. That is, the claimant (you, as the person making the claim) must have sustained either a physical or psychological injury as a result of an accident or incident for which you are considering claiming compensation for injuries. Unfortunately, negligence alone does not offer grounds for compensation for injuries to be made, and neither does a near miss – unless it causes you severe psychological trauma.
There Also Has To Be Negligence
Another factor to note is that your injury must be due to negligence, since negligence is what establishes liability. Once you have ascertained that you have sustained an actual injury or loss which is the result of someone else’s negligence, you have grounds for making a compensation for injuries claim. Liability is established through negligence, however, is not always the case that one party is wholly to blame for causing an accident or incident. In cases where the extent of liability is in question the following may apply.
Contributory Negligence When Claiming Compensation for Injuries
Contributory negligence is a legal principle wherein an injured party is considered to have contributed to his or her own injury by disregarding obvious and known risks. Contributory negligence is decided by either the legal entities negotiating a compensation for injuries settlement, or through the courts. If you are found to have contributed to your injuries, a percentage amount of responsibility would be assigned to you, so that when you receive your settlement the amount of compensation for injuries you would receive would be reduced by this percentage amount.
The term contributory negligence can also be applied when more than one negligent party is responsible for your injuries. This scenario could occur in a multiple vehicle traffic accident, when you have been hit more than once because vehicles travelling behind you were travelling too fast or too close to prevent a collision with your car. In these cases, your solicitor will negotiate with the negligent party´s insurance companies to apportion blame on a percentage basis to each driver.
Your First Priority: Health and Safety
Following an accident, your first priority is to take care of your immediate health and safety issues. If you, or someone else, has been seriously injured, an ambulance should be summoned to the scene. However, if an ambulance is not called because the injury is not considered severe enough, it is crucial that you report to the casualty department of the nearest hospital.
Only in cases where you really feel the injury is minor, can you opt to forego this step, in which case making an urgent appointment with your general practitioner is the absolute least you should do. Sometimes the impact of an injury can take time to develop, so that many people unwittingly aggravate their injury by assuming it is less severe than it, in fact, is. This factor cannot be overemphasised: If you have been injured, seek immediate care for your health and safety.
It should also be noted that your attendance at hospital or to your general practitioner will be recorded in your medical records, which will later support your compensation for injuries claim.
Formalities When Making a Compensation for Injuries Claim
After you have suffered an injury, you should also report it to the right authorities – if you suffered any kind of traffic accident, this should be the police, whereas if your accident was work related, you should make sure to report your accident in your employer’s “Accident Report Book”, which should be readily available to you. Shops, restaurants and all places of public access also have “Accident Report Books” in which the circumstances surrounding an accident an injury should be recorded. You do not need to allocate blame in your report, but should retain a copy of any entry made to support your compensation for injuries claim.
Compensation for Injuries – General Damages and Special Damages
Compensation for injuries is categorised between “General Damages” and “Special Damages”. General damages account for the pain and suffering you experience – both physically and/or emotionally – due to your injuries and throughout your recovery period. During your recovery period, and possibly permanently, there will be activities that you will not be able to participate in such as driving, caring for a young family or enjoying certain leisure pursuits. A factor for this deterioration in your quality of life is also included in a compensation for injuries claim, as it is not fault that you can no longer enjoy them.
Special damages account for the quantifiable financial cost of your injuries – both now and in the future. Quantifiable expenses include the costs of seeking medical treatment, alternative transport arrangements when you are unable to drive, providing care for relatives when you cannot provide it yourself and, in cases of catastrophic injury, can also include the cost of redesigning your home to allow for wheelchair access. When claiming compensation for injuries, special damages also account for any loss of earnings and any costs associated with pursuing your injury compensation claim.
How the Statute of Limitations Affects Compensation for Injuries
In the UK, there is a law called the Statute of Limitations which sets a time limit of three years on how long you have to claim compensation for injuries. The time limit starts when you are aware that you have sustained an injury, so whereas you might instantly know that you have been injured when involved in a road traffic accident, the three years period for an injury which has developed over a number of years due to the negligence of an employer (a repetitive strain injury for example) only starts when you have been diagnosed with the injury.
Beware of Approaches by Insurance Companies
When a negligent party acknowledges his liability to their insurance company, the company may approach you directly with an offer of compensation for injuries – sometimes even before you have considered making an injury compensation claim. These offers are usually inappropriate in relation to the severity and consequences of your injury and, once you have accepted their offer, you cannot go back for more when it proves inadequate.
No two compensation for injuries claims are identical, and there is no way in which an insurance company can accurately account for the level of compensation you are entitled to without first conducting a thorough assessment of your injuries and the consequences that have had to your life. Even the well-meaning advice of friends and family can give you the wrong impression of how much compensation for injuries you are entitled to so, for a precise review of your situation and practical information about the procedures which are relevant to your particular circumstances, it is always in your best interests to contact a solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity.