How to Claim for Compensation
Whatever kind of case you have, there are some facts and procedures related to all personal injury claims that you need to know.
It is important to establish third-party blame in order for your claim to have a chance of success. This could be an employer, the other driver in a road traffic collision or the owner of the property where you had your accident.
If you have had an accident that wasn’t your fault, gather as much evidence as possible.
As soon as possible, write down everything you remember about the accident including what happened and how you felt. If you suspect an injury, see a doctor right away and document everything they say. Keep track of all follow-up doctor visits and keep a log of the prescriptions you took, doses, doctor’s advice, physical therapy sessions, etc.
The goal is to provide a very clear picture of how your condition affected your life, which in turn, can affect the amount of damages you can claim. Take photographs of your injuries at the time of the accident. If you are in a car accident photograph your vehicle, the other vehicles involved and the general scene. If scarring develops as the injury heals, document this also.
Witness statements are also helpful, particularly in road traffic accidents. If you can write down the names and addresses of parties who witnessed your accident then this will also help the success of your case.
Contacting a solicitor
Your next step is to contact a personal injury lawyer to take on your case.
If you suspect you have a personal injury claim, you should get legal advice before giving written or oral statements to insurance companies, other drivers, etc. These statements become part of the documentation when the case goes to trial, and an insurance adjuster will hope that you say something damaging to your cause so they can reduce the value of the claim.
Jefferies Solicitors will provide you with an expert legal professional, qualified and experienced in the relevant field of personal injury.
Liability for a personal injury can be determined if the other party was somehow careless or negligent. Depending on the situation, a property owner, employer, product manufacturer or seller may be negligent. If you as the injured person were also careless in some way, however, or were somewhere you were not supposed to be, this can reduce the amount of compensation you are entitled to (known as comparative negligence).
Examining your injuries
You will normally be required to attend a medical examination so a doctor can determine the injury you have received as a result of the accident. They will also give an opinion on how long you are likely to be affected as a result of your injuries.
Medical records are also needed in most cases to verify your condition. They will be used by your lawyers to assess the level of compensation you are entitled to.
If you have been injured at work, records in the accident book will help validate your injury.
Calculating the potential settlement
The amounts of damages in a personal injury claim are based on two broad areas: compensatory damages and punitive damages. You can research the national guidelines for your specific condition to generate an estimate of what you hope to get out of a settlement. You should not disclose the settlement you are hoping for in negotiations with the insurance company, but having a broad number in mind going in will help you to know if the offer being made to you is reasonable and fair.
Compensatory damages attempt to rectify the situation in the case of a personal injury and attempt to recompense the plaintiff for the injury they have experienced.
As the plaintiff, you need to ask for money to cover damages such as medical costs, loss of income, and property damage. Costs for medical treatment should include any amount already spent, along with estimates for the costs of on-going care, if needed. Loss of income can include any money lost by not being able to work, and your future income – if this income is impacted by the injury. Collecting for potential income lost in the future is known as damages to cover loss of earning capacity.
Less concrete and harder to estimate damages can include pain and suffering or emotional distress. Pain and suffering damages can include the immediate aftermath of the accident as well as any potential ongoing pain caused by the injury. Emotional distress is usually only awarded in very serious cases to cover the psychological impact of the accident, such as fear and anxiety.
Punitive damages are designed not to aid the plaintiff, but to punish the defendant for negligence or bad conduct. These damages often have a hefty price tag and are designed to act as a deterrent so that no one else gets injured in the same way. In many cases, there is a cap on the amount of punitive damages.
Reaching a settlement
A settlement figure will either be agreed upon via negotiations between your lawyer and the opposing party or a judge will decide the appropriate level of compensation for your injury.
An insurance adjuster will typically begin negotiating by offering a low figure in an attempt to make a settlement. You should refuse to accept any cheque from the insurance company that says “final payment” until you have reached a satisfactory agreement and received the details in writing. The insurance company may be hoping that you are desperate for some money and will accept a much smaller amount than your case is worth just to get things over with. If you feel the offer is reasonable but a little lower than you had hoped, it may just be a matter of a little negotiation and compromise to reach a conclusion that both sides are happy with.
If liability is accepted by the other party then your case can be relatively straightforward; if not, you may need to go to court to prove both that your accident was caused by the other party and that it has caused the injuries you are claiming for.
Some accident victims are reluctant to pursue personal injury compensation as they believe they will have to attend court. This is not always the case and most claims are settled before court hearings become necessary.
Looking At Making An Accident Claim Soon?
At Jefferies, our team of solicitors are experienced in taking on various different personal injury cases. If you would like more information about what is involved in making an accident claim then get in touch. Either contact us online or call us on 0800 342 3206.
If you have been injured in an accident, it is important to research and know your rights. The guidelines above are just the basics; you should contact a legal representative to explore your options.
Where next? Read our Guide To Making A Claim