Personal injury claims and personal injury compensation are some of the most common forms of cases we encounter. If you have been the victim of a personal injury, it can be hard to know where to start, or even at what stage of the process you are currently in. The depth of personal injury law and regulation is vast, and it is important to know the best way to approach these situations.
We have compiled a comprehensive guide to personal injury claims to help you along the way of claiming personal injury compensation.
First Stages: What to do
First and foremost, it is important to seek medical attention soon after the accident. Throughout the process, you will be required to provide numerous aspects of evidence, and information about the injury so make sure you take note of every detail that you can. It may be essential in proving you were not at fault for the accident. You should also track and make duplicates of medical forms and expenses while you go through recovery, this is all useful in securing successful compensation, and compensation lawyers will agree.
What Constitutes as a Personal Injury?
Personal injuries can constitute under many different afflictions. The types of compensation and personal injury claims you can make are dependent on each of these categories. Below are some quick examples of personal injuries that can be claimed under compensation.
Work related injuries stem from negligence during working hours that is out of your control. It can vary from workplace to workplace, but generally, these cases are classified under physical bodily injuries, psychological injuries (such as severe stress), diseases caused by your workplace or even pre-existing conditions that have escalated in severity because of your workplace.
Public Liability Injuries
If you have been injured anywhere that is considered a public space, you could be eligible for personal injury compensation. These injuries could occur for instance as a result of a slip-and-fall case in supermarkets, to injuries that have taken place on public transport.
Motor Vehicle Injuries
Motor vehicle injuries are extremely common, and the categories of what can make you eligible for compensation are quite vast. Afflictions such as head and spinal injuries, severe burns, whiplash, severe stress or anxiety, and even more serious injuries like loss of limbs and loss of mobility are key examples of justifiable injuries for personal injury compensation.
Types of Compensation and Claims
If your personal injury claim is successful, you can be eligible for a wide range of compensation as you take the time to recover. For example, one of the most common claims for compensation is ‘loss of past and future earnings’. Time off work can completely overturn your daily life, so it’s important to make sure you are covered against having a bad situation turn for the worse.
Other forms of personal injury compensation include:
- Past and future medical treatment and expenses;
- Cost of care and domestic assistance; and
- Home modification expenses.
Can you claim personal injury if you are at fault?
Being in an accident can be a traumatic and stressful experience for those involved. Whether it was a motor vehicle accident, a workplace accident or even a slip and fall at a shopping centre, these accidents often leave parties in physical, emotional and financial distress. However, there are different types of personal injury claims which can be made to help provide compensation for your injuries – even if you were partly at fault. Read on to find out more about personal injury claims and how being partly at fault will affect such a claim.
Contributory negligence occurs when one’s own negligence has contributed to the causation of their injury, due to a failure to take reasonable care. For example, contributory negligence will have occurred if you were driving a car over the speed limit and you then hit a pedestrian illegally crossing the road. While the pedestrian is at fault for jaywalking, you as the driver are also at fault for failing to drive below the speed limit and thus not stopping in time to avoid a collision.
Some further examples of contributory negligence include:
- A customer who has slipped at the shopping centre, because they ignored the “slippery when wet” sign
- A worker who has lifted a large box at work by himself, when work training has taught him not to, and then sustains a back injury
- A passenger who has failed to wear a seatbelt, and then sustained serious injuries in a crash
- A patient who has provided a false medical history to their doctor, who then gives an incorrect diagnosis
Elements of Contributory Negligence
There are some elements which need to be proven before contributory negligence can be established against you. Contributory negligence requires that you owe duty of care, and that you breached that duty of care by your negligent conduct falling below the standard of a reasonable person, and as a result damage has been suffered.
Contributory Negligence Apportionment
If the accident was partly your fault, the responsibility for the injury will be apportioned as a percentage between the parties at fault and compensation will be reduced accordingly. Any compensation you receive will be less than the amount you would receive if you were not at fault at all, and is generally reduced by the percentage of which you contributed to the accident.
Personal injury compensation can be claimed for:
- Medical, rehabilitation and hospital expenses
- Home modification and attendant care expenses
- Loss of earnings or earning capacity
- Pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life (if the injured party has suffered a whole person impairment over the 10% threshold)
Mandatory Contributory Negligence Apportionment
In some cases, there will be legislation imposing mandatory percentages of apportionment for certain types of contributory negligence. For example, section 50(4) of the Civil Liability Act 2002 prescribes that where a person’s own intoxication has contributed to their injuries, there must be at least a mandatory minimum of 25% liability attributed to that person.
Make a Personal Injury Claim
Personal injuries refer to a physical or psychological injury, sustained as the result of the wrongful actions of another. As personal injury law is very broad, there are many different classes of injuries and compensation schemes – including motor vehicle claims, workers compensation claims and public liability claims.
Even if you are partly at fault for the accident, you are still entitled to make a personal injury claim. However, where you have brought a personal injury claim against someone, they are entitled to claim a defence of contributory negligence against you if your actions have in fact contributed to the accident occurring.
Choosing Personal Injury Lawyers
An important part of the claiming process is choosing the correct compensation lawyers to ensure you find success, and there are a lot of different factors you need to take into consideration when choosing the perfect personal injury lawyer for your situation.
Make sure your lawyer has the necessary qualifications or training to handle your case. There is no shame in asking your lawyer about their previous experiences with cases and claims, as well as their personal area of expertise with personal injury claims.
It’s also vital to always be honest with your lawyer. Laying out all of the information and evidence surrounding your accident is essential in helping them devise the perfect pathway to success. Therefore, finding a personal injury lawyer you feel confident and comfortable in is very important.
Timeframes to Apply
Certain time limits do apply for compensation claims, and personal injury claims are no different, whether you are at fault or not. It is important to contact your compensation lawyer and submit your claim within a general period of 3 years since your accident. If you go over this time, your claim may be void.
However, some cases vary and can have longer or shorter application windows. Consult with your compensation lawyer and get an estimate of how your timeframe might differ. However, it is recommended that you make your claim as soon as possible – it will be easier to make a successful claim.