Accidents can occur in various circumstances, at work, on the road, due to defective products as well as dangerous conditions on the property or land belonging to the third party.
In this guide we will focus on clarifying issues regarding rules that govern Personal Injury Claims.
Can I make personal injury claim?
If you think that third party is to blame for your injury you probably have a right to make personal injury claim and it is worth contacting a solicitor.
Do I need a solicitor to make a claim?
Yes in most circumstances. The personal injury law can be complicated and therefore you should make sure that you are well represented.
In theory you could make a claim without solicitor’s involvement but it is not recommended due to the complexity of the law.
The fact that you have been injured in an accident is stressful enough so it is worth contacting a solicitor who will make a claim on your behalf.
How long do I have to make a claim?
You should make a claim within 3 years from the date of the accident. If it is a child claim, time limit is due to expire 3 years from the eighteenth birthday of the child.
Road Traffic Accidents
One evening Mr Kowalski was driving back home from work. He stopped at the traffic lights when another vehicle hit him in a rear. The impact was not great and the driver of the other vehicle admitted liability. Both drivers exchanged insurance details. When Mr Kowalski arrived at home he felt well but the next day he started experiencing pain in the neck and back. He went to his GP, who diagnosed Mr Kowalski with whiplash type injury.
Whiplash is the most common injury sustained in road traffic accidents. It is an upper body soft tissue injury resulting most commonly in neck ache, headache, shoulder pain, upper back pain and sometimes numbness of arms and hands. This type of injury can last from few days to few months. In the most serious cases it can last for over a year.
Mr Kowalski is fictitious person but he could be any one in thousands of people who make a claim through a solicitor every year.
Anybody can make a claim for personal injury as long as the accident is not their fault. Passengers can make a claim for compensation no matter whether they were in a car belonging to the person who caused the accident or the innocent party.
Your compensation consists of two elements:
1. General damages. This is a compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity as a result of the accident. This is based on the injuries sustained in the accident, recovery time and future prognosis.
2. Special damages. This includes all financial losses suffered as a result of the accident. These could include:
– Loss of earnings
– Cost of medical treatment and medicine
– Costs of care
– Costs of travel related to the accident
In addition the driver of the car may recover insurance excess and cost of the repair of the vehicle.
What to do when the accident happens?
You need to take registration number of the car which caused the collision and exchange insurance details. If witnesses are available take details from them and take photographs of the scene of the accident.
If there is a suspicion that the driver of the other car is uninsured or if you can smell alcohol on his breath you should call the police without delay.
You ought to inform your insurer about the collision and visit your GP or go to the hospital.
You should also contact a solicitor.
Accidents at work
If you had an accident at work and it was not your fault you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Remember to report the accident to your employer in order to complete the accident report as soon as possible.
All employers are under a legal duty to be insured for liability for accidents of their employees and third parties. Your employer’s insurer is responsible for paying the compensation.
Below you can find some of the most common accidents at work.
Accidents caused by manual handling.
Your employer must provide training for all employees who are involved in heavy lifting. During the training employees are taught the correct methods of lifting heavy objects.
Heavy lifting, improper manner of lifting and handling of excessive weights are the most common causes of the injury. It could result in the injury of the spine, ligaments and tendons.
Accidents caused by unsafe work environment.
Your employer is under a duty to provide a safe environment at work. If you slip on a wet floor in the office, trip on the cable sticking out from the floor or you fall over on an unsafe staircase your employer might be responsible for the accident. Your employer’s responsibility also covers lighting, ventilation and heating in the workplace.
This responsibility exists in all work places including factories and offices.
Accidents caused by defective machinery or faulty work tools.
It includes all types of situations where your employer provided you with defective/faulty work equipment which caused you an injury. Work equipment means all equipment supplied by your employer which is used to perform your duties at work. Tools include machinery at the factory as well as forklifts and other equipment for example a bicycle provided by the employer.
Accident caused by co-worker’s negligence.
Your employer is not only responsible for the equipment at work and overall working conditions but also for workers he employs. Because of this your employer might also be responsible for negligent actions of your co-workers.
Will I loose my job if I make a claim against my employer?
If there is a disciplinary action or dismissal due to the fact that you made a claim for personal injury it is possible that you may have a claim for unfair dismissal against your employer and you could be entitled to make a claim in this regard.
It is important to note that your employer’s insurer expects your employer to follow health and safety regulations.
Your personal injury claim alerts the insurer that health and safety regulations are not fully applied in your firm.
The insurer can influence your employer to provide safer workplace for you and your colleagues.
Remember if you do not make a claim against your employer this time, the next accident at work could be much more serious.
Similarly to road traffic accident claims there are two parts of the compensation:
- Compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity.
- Compensation for financial losses related to the accident. (See above in the road traffic accidents section)
Slipping and tripping claims
Unfortunately accidents in public places happen very often – it could be slipping on the wet floor in a shop, tripping on uneven pavement etc.
As we pay taxes we expect our roads and pavements to be safe and free from defects however city councils and local authorities are not obliged to repair all small defects as it would be simply impractical.
If the road or pavement is considerably damaged due to defects or moving paving slabs which causes you injury then you might have a personal injury claim against a local council.
What to do when you are injured?
- Visit your GP or hospital.
- If possible take a photograph of the defect, it is very useful if the photographs show clearly the size of the defect, to do this you could use a ruler or some object which is easy to measure.
- It is good to know how long the defect was present before the accident happened. If there are any witnesses do take their details.
- Report the accident to the council or the premises owner.
How to make a claim?
You should contact a solicitor. The solicitor will take all important information from you. In order to make a claim you must prove that:
- The accident was not your fault (if think you are partially to blame you might still be able to make a claim but in those circumstances it is advisable to contact a solicitor and discuss the matter).
- You were injured as a result of the accident.
- Your claim is not statute bared (it has to be made within 3 years from the accident date)
Guide to medical negligence claims
Every year millions of people in the UK are undergoing medical treatments carried out by variety of medical specialists. In majority of cases treatment received is fully competent and effective. However sometimes diagnosis as well as the treatment can be performed negligently. This can lead to serious deterioration of health and in extreme cases to death or disability of the patient.
When can I make a claim?
If the received treatment was wrong and as a result you suffered you might have medical negligence claim. You must prove that the standard of care fell below the required standard which resulted in deterioration of your health. Claims against National Health Service are very complicated and they differ from each other dramatically so it is worth to contact a solicitor to discuss the matter further.
Can I make a complaint against a hospital or doctor’s surgery where I received treatment?
Yes, making a complaint is advisable. A hospital or Doctor’s Surgery must respond to your complaint. The complaint should contain a description of the treatment received together with a description of the injury suffered and a reason for complaint. Your complaint may be dealt with by way of apology or explanation if the negligence is minor in nature.
Where should I complain?
1.Basic information on how to make a complaint can be found at www.nhs.uk
2.Directly to the hospital or Doctor’s Surgery
Who can help me with my complaint?
- Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) www.pals.nhs.uk
- Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS) www.seap.org.uk/icas
Things to remember
Even if the accident at work is minor or a road collision does not appear to be serious it should not be ignored. Very often high adrenaline level after the accident means that we do not experience pain.
-Take all the details of the third party
-Take details of all available witnesses
– See your GP
– Call a solicitor for further advice
Remember to see your GP or go to the hospital, get basic details regarding the third party and ask a solicitor whether you can make a claim. In personal injury claims the initial interview is always free of charge therefore it is worth to ask for an expert advice.
Wiktor Buza Senior Solicitor at Moore Blatch Solicitors specialising in personal injury claims.