Making a Personal Injury Claim – Should I, Can I, How do I?

Few topics divide opinion quite as much as personal injury claims do. Modern society tends to view things in absolute terms: black or white, with no grey areas.  

So, in the case of personal injury claims, on the one hand, you may believe that people who make injury compensation claims after an accident are greedy chancers, perhaps even to the extent of being fraudulent.  

If you follow this line of thinking, then your opinion of the personal injury solicitors who facilitate such claims may verge on being unprintable. ‘Ambulance chasers’ could be one of the politer phrases used. 

On the other hand, you may see it as only fitting that those who suffer injury as a result of the carelessness, or negligence, of another should receive monetary compensation for the pain and inconvenience the injury causes them.  

You are more likely to take this view if you have already had an accident that wasn’t your fault or have a friend or family member that has had one. Alternatively, you may have read about the excellent work that personal injury solicitors do in helping the catastrophically injured victims of serious accidents rebuild their shattered lives.  

No one of sound mind has any truck with people who pursue fraudulent or exaggerated claims. Yet whilst the press quickly latches onto the tiny minority who perpetrate such claims, most people who seek personal injury compensation do so with the sole intention of getting the compensation to which the law says they are entitled.  

So, here’s the scenario: you are in an accident that was not your fault, and you suffer injury. The accident could have been a car accident, a cycling accident, a motorcycle accident or a pedestrian accident (in the sense that you were knocked down whilst crossing the road).  

Alternatively, your injury may have been due to an accident at work. Yet again still, you may have tripped over a raised flagstone on the pavement, suffered food poisoning after dining out or been injured in a fairground accident.  

Whatever the circumstances, if you were injured (or suffered illness) due to the accident (or incident), what are you going to do about it?    

Should you make a personal injury claim?       

Unequivocally, yes, you should.  Here’s why: 

1. The law on personal injury compensation is that you, the victim of an accident that wasn’t your fault, are entitled to be put back into the position you were in a moment before the accident happened. If you lose out financially because of the accident, your compensation will be calculated using a mathematical formula. Loss of earnings is an example of this. 

Of course, in serious injury cases, no amount of compensation can compensate you for the pain and suffering you have endured. 

Therefore in a claim for personal injury, the only way the law can try and put you back to where you were just before the accident happened is by placing a value on the injury you received.  

The value of any injury is worked out by using precedent, i.e. previously decided court cases, and by using the guidelines found in respected books, such as the Judicial College Guidelines for the Assessment of Damages Personal Injury Cases. The JC Guidelines, as they are known, get updated every few years. 

You will only recover the compensation you deserve if you make a claim. You won’t be getting a windfall, whatever the newspapers have to say about ‘compensation cultures’ and ‘winning compensation’.  

2. Careless behaviour shouldn’t go unpunished. This might seem a harsh way to refer to an accidental act. However, unless people are called to account for their mistakes, they are likely to repeat them. Being on the end of a personal injury claim can make the person who caused the accident stop and think about their actions in the future (even though an insurance company pays most accident injury compensation).  

3. Claim because you never know what is going to happen in the future. If you suffer serious injury in a non-fault accident, you will find it easier to justify making a claim. At an early stage after the incident, you will realise that life for the immediate future, at least, is going to change dramatically.  

However, claim too if you suffer what initially seems like a relatively minor injury, such as a back injury resulting from a lifting accident at work. Some injuries have a habit of getting worse, often a lot worse, before they get better. If you make a claim using experienced personal injury solicitors, they will ensure you get sound medical advice and be examined by a relevant medical specialist at appropriate intervals.  

Can I make a claim? 

As the victim of an accident caused by another person, company or public authority, you can claim compensation for any injury you suffer as a result of the accident. Your claim will be for general damages (compensation) for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (the injury aspect of your claim) plus any special damages (financial loss, e.g. loss of earnings) incurred as a result of the accident. 

How do I claim personal injury compensation?  

1. The immediate shock of being injured in an accident can cause you to lose sight of what your priorities should be. Your main focus should be on getting treatment for your injuries. If you have been seriously injured, you or someone else at the scene must call for an ambulance to get you to a hospital straight away. 

It is still advisable to get checked over either at A&E or your GP, even if your injuries are or appear less severe. If you are not sure which course of action to take, call the NHS helpline on 111 for advice. 

2. Depending on the type of accident, you should report it to one of the following: 

  • the police, after a road traffic accident 
  • your employer in the case of an accident at work,  
  • the local authority or highways department for a trip or slip accident on the pavement or road 
  • the owner of any business on whose premises you were injured. 

3. Gather evidence together 

From the outset, try to keep notes of witness details, how the accident happened, a list of expenses. Keep receipts of every item of expenditure and take photos of the scene of the accident items damaged in the accident and anything else peculiar to your particular case and which you think might be helpful. 

4. Contact an experienced personal injury solicitor for advice. Preferably you should find one who only deals with personal cases and exclusively acts for claimants, i.e. those who wish to make a claim, as opposed to those who defend injury claims on behalf of insurance companies.  

To ensure your claim is risk-free in terms of legal fees, you should seek out the services of a No Win No Fee Personal Injury solicitor.   

About the Author 

Mooneerams are leading personal injury specialists in South Wales, helping clients all across the UK with no win no fee claims. Find out more by visiting https://www.mooneerams.com/