How Do I Make a Claim for Personal Injury?

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The process of making a personal injury claim may initially appear complex and challenging, especially when one is already dealing with the physical and emotional toll of an injury.

However, knowledge and understanding of the legal process – and the advice of a legal professional – can go a long way in making the process go more smoothly. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the intricacies of making a personal injury claim in the UK.

Understanding personal injury

A personal injury is any physical or psychological harm that an individual suffers due to another party’s negligence or intentional actions. The construction industry is one of the most common industries where personal injury incidents occur, and the impact of these injuries can vary, from minor discomfort or temporary incapacity to severe, life-altering conditions or long-term ailments.

Determining eligibility for making a personal injury claim

To understand whether you are eligible to make a personal injury claim, two primary criteria need to be fulfilled. Firstly, you must be able to demonstrate that your injury occurred due to the negligence of another party. This party could be an individual, an organisation, or a public body, and you must provide substantial evidence that supports this claim. Secondly, you must prove that the injury caused you suffering and loss. This may be physical or mental pain, or financial losses.

The claim must also be brought forward within the legally stipulated time limit. In the UK, this is generally three years from the date of the accident or from the date you first became aware of your injury, referred to as ‘date of knowledge’.

However, certain special circumstances might affect this timeline. For instance, if the injured party was a minor at the time of the accident, or if they were suffering from mental health conditions, these timelines might be extended.

How to make a personal injury claim

The immediate aftermath of an injury is a crucial period. If you are in a position to do so, ensure to seek medical help promptly, report the incident to the appropriate authorities, and gather as much evidence as possible. This might include photographs of the scene, contact details of witnesses, and a record of your medical diagnosis and treatment.

The next step involves choosing a solicitor to guide you through your personal injury claim. It is advisable to select a solicitor who specialises in personal injury law and consider solicitors who offer a ‘no win, no fee’ arrangement. This implies that if your claim is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay any legal fees.

The formal claim process kicks off with an initial consultation with your solicitor, who will assess the viability of your claim and provide preliminary advice. Subsequently, an investigative phase will ensue, during which further evidence will be collated to strengthen your claim. Once equipped with sufficient evidence, a letter of claim will be dispatched to the party deemed responsible for your injury. The letter will elaborate on the specifics of your injury and the negligence that contributed to it. If your employer accepts liability, negotiations for compensation will follow.

In a minority of cases, it might be necessary to resort to court proceedings. This usually occurs if liability is contested or if a fair settlement cannot be agreed upon. In such circumstances, your solicitor will guide you through the court process.

How does personal injury compensation work?

The recompense awarded in personal injury cases, known as compensation, is calculated based on several factors. These include the gravity of your injury, the influence it has on your lifestyle, any loss of earnings, and any additional expenses you have had to bear due to your injury. The compensation is typically splitinto ‘general damages’ and ‘special damages’.

General damages relate to the pain, suffering, and loss of amenity you have experienced due to your injury. It includes compensation for both physical pain and mental distress. Special damages, on the other hand, cover any financial losses you have incurred as a result of the injury. This could include medical expenses, travel costs related to medical treatment, and loss of income if your ability to work has been impacted.

Quantifying compensation is a complex task. The compensation amount varies significantly from case to case, depending on individual circumstances, the severity of the injury, the duration of recovery, and the impact on quality of life. While one cannot predict exact figures without professional assessment, remember that the ultimate aim of compensation is to restore, as much as feasibly possible, the injured party to the position they were in before the injury.

If you have suffered a personal injury on a construction site, make sure you seek professional advice as soon as possible to have the best chance of making a successful personal injury claim. With the right support and legal representation, you can navigate the personal injury claim process and recover the compensation you deserve.