The ultimate personal injury and accident claim checklist
There’s no point pursuing a claim for accident compensation for personal injury if you’re not prepared. Here’s everything you should know and everything you need to do to maximise your chances of making a successful claim.
According to the Law Society, In many cases, it’s not their fault, and they are eligible for compensation. But shows that fewer people are making claims. One of the biggest reasons for the drop was that they didn’t think their case as strong enough to win. Here’s how to make sure you have done everything possible to bring about a successful claim, and how to get the best from your solicitor.
- Start gathering evidence
To prove that a third party is liable for your injury, you will need evidence, and lots of it. This can come in many forms, from witness statements, medical diagnosis and recording every last detail about when, where and how it happened. The more detail the better.
- Get medical attention
It may go without saying, but it needs to be exaggerated here. Documented proof of your injuries is fundamental to your success of winning a compensation claim. You need to seek medical advice and get a diagnosis and/or treatment from a medical professional, either your GP or someone at the hospital if you were admitted. Your injuries will need to be formally recorded if they are to be relied on as evidence in a personal injury case.
- Record it and report it
If you are involved in a road traffic accident, as a driver, passenger or pedestrian, you need to report it to the police straight away. Police logs are vital in court proceedings, and they can make or break a case.
If it’s an accident at work, record it in the Accident Book with as much detail as possible. This is standard health and safety procedure in most workplaces, and someone should follow it up. But don’t expect the procedure to be automatically activated, or expect someone else to do it. Do your best to make sure it is recorded, with times, dates, location and other details of your injury. If there’s no Accident Book, report it to the health and safety officer verbally or in writing. You never know, this could be a recurring health and safety issue, so do some research to see if there is any history of previous accidents in similar circumstances.
- Find your witness
If you’re lucky, you won’t be alone when you are injured. That person is invaluable to you as a witness, as long as they are happy to provide evidence on your behalf, so try to get their contact details: full name, contact number and address. If you miss this opportunity, use social media, ask friends, colleagues to find them. A witness account may well help you win you the case.
5. Picture the scene
Photographic evidence can be indisputable, as long as it has some context. Taking photographs of hazards at the scene which caused your accident, such as loose wiring or paving stones, is useful, but putting it into context is far more valuable. This could involve taking wider angle shot to include landmarks, or holding a ruler next to the hazard, or anything else which could identify the hazard and put it into context for the circumstances of your accident.
- Keep receipts
If you’ve had to pay for treatment not covered by the NHS (such as a complimentary therapies like physiotherapy or chiropractic), keep all receipts relating to the fees and travel costs. You may be able to recover this cost as part of your claim.
- Keep an injury diary
You can add to the evidence by keeping a journal of how you are feeling on a day-to-day basis after the accident. In some cases, injuries get worse over time. Tracking the development of your illness and charting mobility issues or psychological symptoms will add to the evidence to reinforce your claim. If you are making a clam for medical or clinical negligence, it’s a good idea to keep an accurate record of events leading up to the claim to ensure that you can recall everything when needed.
- Keep track of time off work
Nothing is worse than a self-employed worker not being able to work. If you are self-employed, make sure you keep a record of your loss of earnings as a result of the accident. Keep a folder of emails requesting work and how much the job is worth, to quantify how much salary you have lost. You may also need to supply tax returns to prove lost income, so make sure they’re up to date.
- Check your insurance
If you have legal expenses insurance policies or if you are a member of a trade union, this may mean you are entitled to legal representation at a lower cost. Check your other insurance policies (such as home or motor insurance) to see if they cover the legal costs of your claim.
- Get the right personal injury lawyer
This really should be at Number 1 on the list as it will make or break your case. Be wary of making an online claim, or activating a claim just because someone has contacted you out of the blue by email, text or phone. When you’ve suffered an injury, you want to talk to a local solicitor face-to-face, not a faceless organisation on the end of a phone, email or via letter correspondence. Here’s more about why you should see a personal injury lawyer face-to-face.
How does it work?
Assuming you make the smart choice and opt to see a lawyer face-to-face, this is how things should pan out. After the first interview with your solicitor, they should send you a letter including a summary of the meeting and whether they have agreed to take on your case. They should also include information about how payments should be made, the timescales, likely costs as well as the likelihood of success and how much you might be able to claim in compensation. They should also tell you when you might have to pay the solicitor’s costs and when you might have to pay the defendant’s costs.
What happens next?
You should receive progress reports and extra advice about what to do if you are not happy about the way things are going. There should be one main contact (to get the best results, it should be the same person you saw, not someone else). After writing to you, your solicitor will send a claim letter to the third party (a company, person or people) which you believe is responsible for the accident. This third party becomes the ‘defendant’. The defendant has to reply within a fixed time period and tell you whether they accept or deny liability for your injuries.
Take it to court or ‘offer to settle’
If the defendant accepts liability, your solicitor will try to settle out of court and tell you what they think is the value of your claim. If you’re happy to accept the offer, your solicitor will make an ‘offer to settle’ for that amount. And if the defendant agrees the matter can be settled out of court. If they disagree, your solicitor may advice starting legal proceedings to challenge them, asking the court to award you compensation.
Legal aid is no longer available for personal injury cases in England and Wales. If your solicitor acts for you under a no-win-no-fee agreement you will be liable to pay the solicitor’s ‘success fee’ as this is not recoverable from the defendant.
What if you lose?
Your solicitor will explain all the available options to make sure that you can cover your costs if this happens, and whether you may have to pay any of the other side’s costs or your own solicitor’s fees.
To say personal injury claims are complicated is an understatement. For more clarity and advice contact our director of litigation, Katherine Flashman Kitson, on 01566 772375 or email@example.com.
Has your personal information been shared without your permission?
Planning your escape to the country, what you need to consider – part 2
Government consultation on new national model for shared ownership
Choosing a partnership structure
Planning for what happens when you die by Deborah Adams
Changes to legislation could offer protection for tenants in the private rental sector
Move to the country - Part One
The risks of DIY probate
Will your septic tank still be legal in January?
The death knell for ‘kiss and tell’?
Making a will when you retire
Selling your property at auction
Not looking so good - your guide to compensation for botched non-surgical cosmetic procedures
New threshold of seriousness in defamation proceedings
Legal considerations when building a granny annex
Choosing the right person for your power of attorney
Formal Interviews - Do you need legal representation?
Privacy rights and aerial images
Trustees’ duty to give information to beneficiaries
Five problems with a leasehold property
Taking your first commercial lease
Is your organisation protected from employee social media legal risk?
Have you been targeted by negative social media posts?
Farmers be alert when being inspected
Help for House Sellers?
Don’t let your digital assets end up in a digital grave
Valuing an estate for probate
Development proposals and your local authority search
What can you do if your child is injured in a serious accident
NetRights welcomes new protection for social media users
SHOULD I GET A LAWYER FOR A SPEEDING OFFENCE?
Supreme Court recognises that social media is a “casual medium” in libel battle
Choosing the best conveyancer who is right for you
Making a will after a second or subsequent marriage
Option or promotion agreement – which is best for landowners?
Anonymous pub and restaurant online reviews leave a bad taste
Have you had an accident involving a horse?
Help to Buy – beware of some cracks in the structure
Understanding Lasting Powers of Attorney
Changes to Energy Performance Certificate for Landlords
Had a cycling accident? Your route to obtaining compensation
New year, new home: tips to sell your home in the New Year
Tax Planning for your inheritance
Hearing loss: when your employer may be liable
Buying a home for your retirement, five things you need to consider
Farmers plan to diversify after Brexit
Ministers press ahead with probate fee shake-up - reports BBC News
Botched dental treatment? You may be entitled to compensation
Why a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney is a good idea
Will the new charge on building developments in Cornwall affect you?
Energy Performance Certificates – Do They Matter?
HMRC Challenging Stamp Duty Land Tax Payments
Ben Mitchell qualifies as a solicitor
The potential implications of Brexit on employment law
Appointing a guardian for your children
Houses in multiple occupation – new rules from October 2018
New Agriculture Bill published
Will Brexit affect my pension?
Dreaming of a holiday home? Sort out the legals before putting your feet up
Lasting Power of Attorney by Deborah Adams
Settled status after Brexit by Alexis Hager
How to choose an executor to administer your estate when you die
How overage agreements can boost profits from your land
Top tips for first-time buyers
How Could Brexit Affect My Farm?
Wills & Succession in Spain by Deborah Adams
Brexit – an international and local view by Alexis Hager, Litigation
Capital gains tax - important facts for non-residents of the UK
Buying a home: the importance of making sure the seller is entitled to sell
Changing a will after someone has died: it is possible and it could save you money
Your responsibilities when you have people working in your home
Sad passing of Battle of Britain pilot who served with Parnall family member
Considerations when buying a heritage property
Disciplinary proceedings at work: guide for employers
Employers should have a disciplinary process in place, but just following this may not be enough to avoid falling foul of the law and exposing yourself to the risk of an employment tribunal claim.