Accidents and injuries are a fact of life – be it a car crash, tripping over a paving slab, inadequate medical treatment or accidents at work. The effects of an accident can leave the injured person not only in a great deal of pain and distress but also suffering financially. Having to take time off work, pay for taxis to attend hospital appointments or receiving help from a carer are all examples of financial loss which can result from an accident.
If somebody experiences an accident which isn’t their fault then a personal injury claim could potentially be made. Personal injury claims are based on the law of negligence and, in compensating injured parties, its aim is to put the injured party back into the position that they would have been in financially had the accident not occurred. In order to assess whether you have a chance of succeeding it is necessary to collect together as much evidence as possible regarding the circumstances of the accident. This could include photographs, written witness statements, letters or even an expert opinion such as that of a doctor. Additionally, you would need proof of loss of income or expenses arising out of the accident as well as details of your insurance if you have a policy.
For someone to have the basis for commencing a personal injury claim, there are certain fundamental requirements. These are as follows:
- Did the person who caused the accident owe you a duty of care? For example other road users owe each other a duty of care, as do employers to their employees or the owner/manager of a building to visitors or the council to those using a public walkway
- Did the person who caused the accident breach their duty of care to you by being negligent? In other words did they fall below the standard of a reasonable person in that position?
- Causation – did the breach of a duty of care directly result in the loss? In some circumstances, it may well be that your loss is considered too remote and may have been caused by other factors
- The absence of any strong defences from the Defendant
- Contributory negligence – if you were being careless when the accident occurred then it could also be partly your fault. A finding of contributory negligence may not totally absolve the defendant but it may reduce your chances of succeeding or reduce the level of damages awarded.
- Limitation – you only have a period of 3 years to bring your personal injury claim. This could either be 3 years from the date of the accident or, if the injury only became evident at a later date, then the date that the injury was discovered.
Once you have established these basic fundamental requirements then you may have a claim. One of the key elements in proving your claim is the use of evidence and often the opinion of an expert will assist in supporting your claim both from the perspective of who is to blame and also supporting the value of damages you are seeking.
Communication with the Defendant
There are certain procedures to follow before bringing a claim, one of which is to write to the defendant setting out your case and giving them a chance to respond. If they admit liability then there is no need to go to court and the matter can quickly be settled.
If the defendant does not respond within a certain time-frame or denies liability then the best course of action may be to commence a claim. Bringing a claim is a complicated matter and a lot of law firms have solicitors who specialise in personal injury work. As far as fees are concerned, we at Fiona Bruce Solicitors are able to look at the possibility of offering a no-win no-fee policy.
Often, claims are settled before they reach the court stage. Your solicitor may advise you to make or accept an offer to settle out of court and you should always consider carefully the consequences of accepting or rejecting an offer as the courts tend to look more favourably on parties who genuinely attempt to settle.
In summary, bringing a claim for personal injury is a very technical and often lengthy process and often requires the expertise of experts to support evidence as well as legal experts to draft the paperwork and ensure that the claim is brought in compliance with the relevant procedure rules. If you have had an accident that wasn’t your fault then we at Fiona Bruce Solicitors have a litigation department who have experience in representing claimants in bringing personal injury claims.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute specific advice. You should not rely on the information in this article. Fiona Bruce Solicitors recommends that you seek our specific advice if you wish to rely on the any part of this article. Whilst Fiona Bruce Solicitors makes every effort to ensure that the article is accurate, Fiona Bruce Solicitors excludes all liability for claim, loss, demands or damages of any kind whatsoever (whether such claims, loss, demands or damages were foreseeable, known or otherwise) arising out of or in connection with the use of this article or any other information contained on this website. Any information provided only applies to England and Wales.