How to Make a Successful Injury Claim
I’m scared to claim from my employer
Some people who have been injured at work think that by claiming they’re going to put both their job and the future of their company at risk. This is untrue. Firstly, it is illegal for an employer to either put pressure on an employee to leave, or to make them redundant, in the wake of them making a claim.
I’m worried I might bankrupt my company
Claimants do not ‘sue’ their employer. They place a claim for compensation with their employer’s insurance company. All companies, by law, must hold indemnity insurance to protect staff from being left out of pocket if their negligence results in an injury. This also applies in the case of a member of the public who has been injured through the negligence of a business or public authority. (for example, if they have slipped on a wet floor or tripped on a loose paving stone).
I think claiming takes a lot of effort
It doesn’t. After you have given your details to whoever you choose to handle your claim for you, they take care of the legal technicalities and keep you updated on the important points. But it is designed to be a relatively easy process: after all, red tape and endless form-filling shouldn’t get in the way of a victim being compensated for accident injuries.
I will need money to claim
You don’t need to pay anything to get your claim started. This regulation is known by its official title, the Conditional Fee Agreement, or more simply as ‘no win no fee.’
This regulation is in force to stop members of the public who are genuine victims of accidents having their claims stopped in their tracks by excessive fees. The name says it all: if you do not win your case, you don’t pay your solicitor their fee. Some companies take it further with ‘100% no win no fee’ which means that not only do claimants not have to pay legal fees, but avoid having to meet any costs whatsoever.
I don’t believe in claiming compensation if I’ve been hurt
The word ‘compensation’ in itself should say enough: any award that the victim of an injury receives is designed to right the wrongs that they have suffered; to attempt to return the victim to their original state of health. Some of the injuries sustained are very serious indeed and only a financial payout can even begin to redress the balance in the individual’s life. Payments are to cover income lost as the result of forced time off work and to remunerate any outlay towards medical costs, etc.
Things you might didn’t know you could claim for
Injury on holiday
If you booked your holiday through a company, they are liable for any injury or illness you sustain while you are abroad, or even on the plane.
Accommodation in disrepair
anywhere you live that you do not own is the responsibility of your landlord, whether that is the local county, an individual or a private lettings company. If you are injured because of your accommodation being in unsafe condition, you could claim compensation for those injuries from your landlord.
Injury on public transport
The driver of any bus, taxi or train has a duty to protect their passengers. If you are injured because of the driver’s negligence, you can claim from the transport operator if the injury is not your fault. For example, if you were standing on the top deck of a double-decker bus, which is not permitted, when you were injured, you may not be able to claim. Make sure that you’re the one in the right!
If you are injured by a defective product, you can pursue a claim against the manufacturers, who still have responsibility for their product after they have sold it, unless the fault is the result of a change or tampering by an unauthorised person. The product could be something as small as a kettle or as big as a car. As long as an inherent fault has caused your injury, then you could make a claim.
Generally, if an applicant wishes to make a compensation claim, they know who they are claiming from: The supermarket where they slipped, the county whose defective pavement caused them to trip. What about the unfortunate motorists or pedestrians who suffer an injury if they are struck by an uninsured driver? The same applies in these cases.
And by that we mean injuries consequentially sustained during the course of a criminal act, or directly sustained as the result of an assault.
This could mean that you’ve been bitten by a dog or thrown from a horse. The main thrust of a successful claim is essentially the same as any other: somebody else must be at fault: for example, you must not have provoked the dog that bit you and the dog’s owner must have been negligent in allowing its behaviour.
Injuries that happened when you were a child
Claimants have two years from the date of the accident in which to begin claim proceedings, but if the accident happened when they were a child, the ‘two year’ rule only applies from when they reach their 18th birthday. Or, to put it another way, they have until their 21st birthday. So somebody that was injured as a one-year old baby has another twenty years to make a claim.
Injuries can be commonplace in sports but if you are injured by an action that is outside the result of normal play, then you may have a case. For example: if you’re playing hockey and a competitor suddenly comes up at half-time and strikes you in the leg, that is outside normal play. The difficulties can arise when deciding who to actually pursue the claim from, but there are ways and means. You could claim from the organisers of the match for letting a dangerous competitor take part.
Repetitive strain injury
RSI is a common workplace injury. It takes a long time to develop on occasion. It is caused, as the name suggests, by muscles and ligaments being put under constant stress on a frequent basis, such as by operating a computer keyboard. Just because an injury is not sudden and agonising does not mean it can not be the subject of a successful claim.
Five Steps to Success
Visit the doctor
This is essential on two counts. You must first of all ensure that your injuries are not life threatening. Even if you have only had what you think is a minor bump, other more serious injuries can lurk beneath the surface. There are numerous horror stories out there of people who, having bumped their heads and thinking they were fine, suddenly losing consciousness and becoming seriously ill a couple of days later. On a more practical level, you will not be able to claim if you have not had a medical check-up to confirm your injuries.
Gather as much evidence as possible
Take photos of your injuries, your car, the pothole that caused you to trip, the ladder that fell on you, and so on. The more evidence you gather, the stronger your claim will be and the more chance you’ll have of claiming maximum compensation. Speak to witnesses and make detailed notes of their statements and your own observations. Keep a record of your visits to the doctor. You will be able to reclaim any money you have paid out of your own pocket for medical treatment
Find somebody to handle your claim
Certain companies offer what is known as a ‘one stop shop’ solution to claiming compensation. That is, you give them your details and they deal with everything related to your claim on your behalf. They will locate a solicitor for you based on the details of your case. They keep you informed of what is happening throughout the whole process as well.
Fault in personal injury claims and the two year rule
The simple principle of a successful personal injury claim is that you, the victim, are being compensated for something that is not your fault. In very basic terms, if the accident that caused your injuries was mainly the result of your own actions, then you are unlikely to be able to make a claim.
What is contributory negligence?
In some cases, you may be partially at fault but the culpability may mostly lie with another party.
Say you are knocked off your motorcycle by a careless car driver and suffer a head injury, but the injury was exacerbated by the fact that you were wearing an old crash helmet that didn’t fit properly and didn’t meet the latest safety standards. You are partially responsible for your injuries, but you are not the main party at fault for the accident, overall. This is called ‘contributory negligence’ and often has the effect of reducing the amount of compensation that can be awarded to a claimant.