If you find yourself injured in an accident through no fault of your own, you may be able to claim compensation for what happened. Personal injury claims are not about receiving a windfall but are instead designed to help restore your quality of life to how it was before the accident, and the resulting injury.
In short, the process aims to help you back on your feet, and to finance any necessary adjustments that may need to be made because of your injury.
How do you go about making a claim?
Many people are hesitant about making a personal injury claim, even if they have a strong case. They are put off by what they perceive as a lengthy and complicated process. They may fear that it’s costly, and the risks are too great for them to proceed.
Although the process can be lengthy and does require a satisfactory amount of supporting evidence to be provided, it is by no means impossible. In fact, thousands of claims are successfully made every year across the UK.
If you have a good case, with proper preparation and the right advice you can receive the compensation to which you’re entitled.
What is the role of a personal injury solicitor and how can they help?
Personal injury is a serious matter. Depending on the extent and severity of the injury, it can be incredibly traumatic and even life-changing for you and your family. It can have a wide range of consequences, from pain, to loss of income, to care costs and psychological trauma. If you have a family, they too will be impacted by your injury.
There’s also issues to consider if you make a claim. There are deadlines to meet, and potential procedural pitfalls that could scupper your claim, even if you have a strong case. With so much at stake, it might be considered foolhardy to try and make a personal injury claim without the help of a personal injury solicitor.
So, what exactly do they do, and how can they help you secure compensation for your injury? Let’s explore further…
Do you have a case?
You may feel that you have a case for a personal injury claim, but an experienced legal professional in the field of personal injury will be in a far better position to make a fair evaluation of its strength.
Your personal injury solicitor will look at your case in detail. They will look at the evidence you’ve gathered and examine its relative strengths. They will ask questions and go into what happened in more depth. From this information they will then be able to assess whether or not they think you have a viable case. They understand the process, they know what to look for and have experience of what has and hasn’t proven successful.
Most credible personal injury solicitors will have pursued more successful personal injury claims, than they’ve have had claims rejected, and will operate on a no-win, no-fee basis. This means that they’ll only collect payment as a percentage of the total compensation amount awarded if your case is successful. If it isn’t then, they won’t be paid. They have no self-interest in pursuing a case they don’t think is strong enough to succeed. So, if a no-win, no-fee personal injury solicitor agrees to take your claim on it’s already cleared a significant hurdle.
If your claim is rejected as not being strong enough, you will, in all likelihood, have saved yourself a considerable amount of stress, time and anguish.
Many people worry about their chances of success so may be hesitant about making a claim. A personal injury solicitor will give you confidential and credible advice that allows you to make a proper decision.
Key questions they will look at
A personal injury solicitor will want to be satisfied that you can prove the following:
- Your injuries were caused as a result of a particular accident.
- The accident was caused due to someone else’s negligence or mistakes.
These two points may sound relatively simple but proving this in court is another matter. If the claim has reached that stage, the defendant will probably deny all charges and plead innocent. For your case to be successful you must be able to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the defendant is to blame for your accident and injuries.
What kind of evidence will a personal injury solicitor be looking for?
To help support your claim, and to help a personal injury solicitor make a judgement about its likely success, you should try to provide as much of the following as possible:
- Details recorded at the scene – if you’re involved in an accident, any details recorded at the scene or shortly after can be very helpful. The first priority should always be ensuring you receive any medical help required, but if you or someone else is able to write down details of what happened then this can be helpful. If you’re incapacitated, and no one nearby records what happened, you should record what you can remember as soon as possible afterwards
- Witness details – first-hand accounts from witnesses to your accident are an extremely powerful piece of supporting evidence. Many people presume that witnesses will automatically come forward if a case reaches court. This isn’t always the case so it’s imperative that you take their details so you can follow up.
- Photographic evidence – photos of your injuries and of the scene of your accident can be incredibly useful. If you’re involved in a road traffic accident, this might include the position of vehicles on the road.
Helping with the documentation process and evidence gathering
A key part to strengthening your personal injury claim is properly documenting your injuries and building up a case to support your claim. Before they agree to represent you, a personal injury solicitor will examine what you already have and advise if they think you need to produce more.
A solicitor will then help you gather further evidence. This might include statements from emergency services and medical records. They may ask that you have a medical examination to assess the extent of the injury and the ongoing challenges it presents, or a psychological assessment.
Other evidence the personal injury solicitor will want to gather will be details of your finances to help calculate the level of compensation to be claimed for. Pay-slips, bank details, receipts from any travel to receive medical treatment may all be required. Your solicitor will look at the medical evidence and your own statements and then assess:
- the pain and suffering you have experienced because of your injury
- the prognosis for your injury
- whether the injury has caused a loss of earnings
- the expenses you have incurred because of your injury
They will then come up with a figure that they believe adequately compensates for what you have been through, and the amount you will need to return your life to the standard it was before your injury.
Approaching the negligent parties
When your solicitor has the evidence they require and have worked out the value of your claim, court papers will be lodged detailing your case and the amount of compensation being pursued. The defending parties will then be made aware of an impending court case. This will give them the opportunity to make an out-of-court settlement.
Only a small number of personal injury cases ever reach court, with the vast majority resulting in an out-of-court settlement. You may initially be offered an inadequate amount, but at this point the defendant will have admitted culpability creating a basis for further negotiations if they wish to avoid court.
Negotiating the out-of-court settlement
Sometimes cases can drag on, with defendants refusing to reach agreement. This can cause real personal hardship and distress, but your personal injury solicitor can at this stage secure a partial payment ahead of a full agreement being reached. If the defendant has admitted liability, then it is generally in their own interest to bring the matter to a close. If a company is involved the negative publicity of a court case is to be avoided.
Liaising with insurers
Your personal injury solicitor will also liaise on your behalf with your own and your defendant’s insurance company if appropriate.
Your ally at a difficult time
Experienced personal injury solicitors will have dealt with hundreds of cases, securing compensation and helping to guide people through a difficult process. At a challenging time, they are a valuable ally providing advice, perspective and much-needed legal muscle as you seek redress for a traumatic experience.
The experienced personal injury solicitors at Mark Reynolds Solicitors can help you secure the compensation you deserve. If you think you might be entitled to personal injury compensation call us on 0800 022 957 to speak to one of our professional team.