Ten things you need to know about personal injury claims

If you are injured in an accident, whether at work, or not, then might be entitled to compensation. That, in itself is fair enough, but I do wonder if all the TV advertisements for, no win no fee, personal injury lawyers, are cultivating a claims culture in Great Britain. Nonetheless, if you have been injured as a result of someone else negligence or carelessness and, as a result of that injury, you have lost money, then it is a perfectly fair assumption that you should be compensated for your loss.  That said, so long as you are not claiming for sprained ankle caused by a slightly less than perfectly laid paving slab on the high street, here are ten things about personal injury and compensation that you might need to know.

1. No win, no fee, doesn’t mean no fee at all!
Legal firms that offer a no win, no fee, accident compensation claim service, are not in it for charitable purposes.  They will only take on the cases they expect to win, and when they do win, they will charge you a percentage of the compensation that you win. You should also be aware that, should you decide to withdraw from the process before, the claim is settled, they will probably charge you for the time they spent on the case to that date.

2. You can usually have a free fist consultation with any lawyer
The advantages of a, no win, no fee agreement are twofold. Firstly, there is no payment required from you, until the claim has been settled, though there may be an initial fee and, secondly, as the name suggests, if you don’t win your case, you won’t have to pay for the personal injury lawyer’s time.  You should be aware, though; that you can usually get a free initial consultation with a regular legal firm and, one would assume that their fees would be lower in total than a no win, no fee firm.

3. Personal injury claims must be made within three years of the accident
If you do wish to make a compensation claim, then the court proceedings must be started within three years of the date of the accident. Unless, that is, you were under the age of 18 when the accident occurred, in which case, you have until the day before your 21st birthday to start legal proceedings.

4. Use a specialist personal injury lawyer
Most legal firms specialise, and it is important to use a layer that has expertise in personal injury claims. This is obvious; when you use one of the well-known personal injury legal firms, but if you use a general practice, then you should make sure that the lawyer dealing with your case has experience of injury compensation claims. You should also ask for examples of cases they have won!

5. Personal injury means more than just whiplash and car accidents
Although car accidents do account for a substantial number of personal injury claims, you can also make claims for injuries caused by defective consumer products, accidents at work, dog bites and unsafe premises. Basically, if it was someone else’s fault then you might have a claim.

6. You can also claim for the physiological effect that an accident had on you
Personal injury claims are not just about the broken bones, you can also claim for other illnesses and for the physiological damage that an accident may have caused. Don’t forget to mention that side of things to your lawyer too, because many people do forget, or are too embarrassed to talk about it.

7. Personal injury compensation can cover many things
Compensation for personal injury can include many different aspects including; loss earnings, damage to property, pain and suffering and medical costs. In the case of wrongful death, compensation can cover; loss of financial support, funeral costs, medical costs and loss of companionship.

8. You can claim compensation for an injured child
If your child or baby has been injured, then you are also entitled to make a personal injury claim on their behalf straight away. When a partner or a guardian of a child makes a compensation claim in this way, they are known as the ‘litigation friend’.

9. Why do you need a personal injury lawyer?
If you have been injured in an accident, then you will need a personal injury lawyer to, basically, fight with the insurance company. The insurance company will fight tooth and nail, to pay out the smallest amount in personal injury compensation that they can possibly get away with.

10. How much will a personal injury lawyer cost?
In all honesty, I have not done extensive research on personal injury lawyer’s fees, so shop around before you agree to go with any particular one. From what I have read, you can expect to pay around one third of the total amount of compensation that is eventually agreed, plus the lawyers out of pocket expenses.

On a personal note; please don’t make spurious claims against your fellow motorist for personal injury. I once had a very minor shunt on a motorway. There was no damage at all to my car, so I didn't even bother getting my own insurance company come and have a look at the vehicle.  Six months later, I discovered that the individual that had I bumped into had claimed for several months’ worth of time off work with whiplash and my insurance premiums shot up. Frankly, the impact of the bump wouldn't have given an aged gnat whiplash, but it still cost me dearly. 

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