Frequently Asked Questions surrounding Making a Personal Injury Claim

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Your general questions answered

What does the law entitle me to claim for?
  • Pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by your physical and/or psychological injury. (Lawyers call this “General Damages”.)
  • For the financial loss incurred (“Lawyers call this Special Damages”.)

Although this is not an exclusive list, compensation can be awarded for;

  • Loss of Past Earnings and Future Earnings
  • Medical expenses incurred.
  • Care and assistance by others to you or the person injured.
  • Adaptations and equipment required to assist the person injured live as normal a life as possible.
  • Funeral expenses.
  • Bereavement Damages.
  • Pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Future loss of earnings.
  • Future case management costs.
  • Future care costs.
  • Future medical expenses.
  • Loss of future pension rights.
  • Disadvantage on the open labour market.
  • Loss of congenial employment.
  • Loss of consortium.
  • Loss of marriage prospects.
  • Car repair costs and alternative hire.
Will I have to go to Court?

Settlement

Many cases will settle without the need to go to court. If you do have to go to court Grieves Solicitors will be there to guide you every step of the way.

In many compensation cases the insurers, or other representatives of the organisation you are claiming against, will settle your claim. This often happens when a company is presented with all the evidence of your case, including reports from the time and statements from witnesses and medical professionals. At Grieves Solicitors we always present a strong case, it is possible that the third party may decide it is more cost-effective for them to settle an amount with you before any court proceedings are necessary.

Court Proceedings or Tribunal

If the party of fault does not want to settle the claim, or if their settlement offer is rejected by you and your solicitor, your case will go to court. This means that both you and the party of fault will present your evidence and arguments and the outcome will be decided by a judge. You will have the opportunity to appear as a witness on your own behalf and to call other witnesses, who may include colleagues, medical professionals and anyone else you have consulted in connection with your case. Once both sides have been heard, a verdict will be given, and an amount of compensation awarded to you if you are successful.

Will I have to pay anything towards my legal costs?

NO, BECAUSE WE WILL BE PAID BY YOUR OPPONENTS.

You will receive 100% compensation unless your claim is a Criminal Injury Compensation Claim. This is because this is a government run compensation scheme which, unfortunately, does not pay your legal costs in addition to any award. In those cases, we keep our costs to the minimum and advise you as the case progresses what you will have to pay us. However, in Criminal Injuries Compensation Cases, we do not ask you to pay anything until the end of your case.

I have been approached directly by my opponent's insurers, so do I need my own Solicitor?

As you know, we are one of the few firms in the Huddersfield area who specialise exclusively in personal injury claims. We do not deal with any other areas of law such as conveyancing or wills but have a wealth of experience and expertise in dealing with accident claims. Helen Grieves, our founder, is a member of the Law Society Personal Injury Panel and a Senior Litigator Member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. Even if you, your friends or relatives already have an accident claim with another firm of solicitors it is possible for them to transfer their files to us at no cost to them.

It is important to beware of ‘third party capture’. What happens is that insurers acting for the guilty party who has caused an accident will try and buy off your claim. How do they do this? They will approach someone who has had an accident direct and offer them a settlement straightaway which may be far below what their claim is actually worth. Why do they do this? To save themselves money. They know that if the injured party consults a Professional, that Professional will fight tooth and nail to obtain for their client the maximum compensation they deserve. This is what we would do if we were instructed to deal with your compensation claim.

The guilty party`s insurers on the other hand are only interested in saving money and will often make an offer far below what the injured person deserves, often without obtaining medical evidence. Medical evidence should always be obtained. Why is medical evidence necessary? Medical evidence will shows the extent and duration of the injury and indicate whether or not there will be any problems in the future from the accident e.g. arthritis from a fracture which may prevent someone from working at some time in the future.

Unfortunately, people who have had accidents are enticed to accept an amount of compensation which is often far below what they deserve.

Can I Claim for Stress and Bullying?

Stress

Yes you can sue for psychiatric injury caused by stress at work but the following must be proved and each case will be decided on its own facts:

a) Whether the harm to you was reasonably foreseeable. It is an employers responsibility to consider the individual and base their actions on the knowledge they have of that individual.

b) There must have been an injury to health which is attributable to the stress at work.

c) Foreseeability depends on what the employer knew or ought to have known about the injured employee.

d) Employers are entitled to assume employees can cope with normal day to day pressures of work but where there is a known vulnerability, the employer cannot ignore it.

e) For a (reasonable) employers’ duty to act to be triggered, there must be clear signs of impending ill health.

f) The employer is only required to take steps reasonable in all the circumstances.

Harassment (œto cross a boundary from regrettable to unacceptable)

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 is there to protect victims of harassment whatever form the harassment takes, where it occurs and whatever its motivation.

A person must not pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another and which he knows, or ought to know, amounts to harassment.

In order to succeed you would have to be the victim of harassment and prove:

a) The bullying/harassment occurred on at least two occasions – known as a œcourse of conduct including speech.

b) The person whose course of conduct is in question ought to know it amounts to harassment of another if a œreasonable person would think that course of conduct amounted to harassment of the other.

An employer can be liable for the act of an employee(s) if the course of conduct takes place during the course of employment and they may be liable if the harassment is in the form of a criminal act. (Known as vicarious liability).

A course of conduct would have to be proven against one individual for a claim for that individual to succeed.

What if I am partly to blame?

Yes. However it may be that you did something that may have caused or contributed to your injury.
If your opponent can show that you were partly to blame for your own accident, it will reduce the amount of compensation they have to pay to you. The legal term for this is contributory negligence. In other words, your own carelessness contributed to the accident.

For example, if you werent wearing a seat belt when your opponent hit your car, although he may have collided with your car because he was driving carelessly and he is to blame for the crash, if you were not wearing your seatbelt, then the amount of compensation you will receive is likely to be reduced by as much as 25%. The reason for this is that your injuries are likely to have been more serious if you were not wearing a seatbelt.

Another example is if you were using a woodcutting machine at work and the machine jams and you did not switch it off before trying to fix it. If you are then injured, you are likely to be partly to blame if it starts up while you are trying to fix it and injure yourself.

If you are found to be partly to blame for your accident, then the amount of compensation you will receive can be reduced by 75%, 50% or even 25% depending upon how much to blame you are.

How long will my claim take?

This is often a question which I am asked when I take instructions from a new client. There is no exact answer.

The length of time it takes to deal with your claim for compensation depends upon a number of factors, how quickly the client responds to requests for information, the conduct of the Defendant, what type of injury the client has suffered from and their likely recovery period and so on.

By way of an example, if someone drove into the back of your car whilst you were stationary at a red traffic light, it is unlikely the Defendants would argue liability. If liability is admitted, we would then arrange to have you medically examined and the medical report would help us to value your claim.

At the same time, we would ask you to provide details of any financial losses you have suffered and upon receipt, we would then put together a Schedule of Loss detailing those losses.

Claims for compensation following a road traffic accident where the compensation awarded is not likely to exceed £10,000 are submitted to the Defendant insurers via an external website called the RTA Portal. Under the Portal scheme, there is a set time limit for the Defendant to admit liability and for negotiations to have taken place and this enables the parties to bring a claim for compensation following this type of accident, to a timely conclusion.

Once the medical report and Schedule of Loss had been approved by you, they would be disclosed to the Defendant with our valuation of the claim via the Portal and the Defendant would then have a set period within which to respond, either accepting that valuation or making a counter offer (35 working days from the day after the medical report and Schedule of Loss has been submitted).

If liability were denied for some reason, then the claim would fall outside the RTA Portal scheme and the time limits set out in the Portal would no longer apply. However, the Pre-Action Protocol for Personal Injury Claims would come into play and they set an alternative timetable.

If you have been involved in an accident, please contact us on 0800 0747 644 and we will be happy to discuss things with you.

How much money will I receive in compensation?

How much money will I receive in compensation is something that I am often asked by clients.

My answer is that your compensation is divided into two parts called by Judges general and special damages.

Whats the difference between the two then is another question?

General damages compensate you for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity you have suffered as a result of your accident related injuries and special damages compensate you for your accident related financial losses

Which financial losses can I claim form?

Any financial losses that you have suffered as a direct result of the accident which are not too remote or unforeseeable. An example of the type of items you can claim for would be loss of earnings, the cost of prescription charges, over the counter medicines, such as pain killers or bandages, fares to the Hospital, Doctor or to see your Solicitor, telephone bills, damage to clothing, or other belongings and any other reasonable expenses.

Its a good idea to keep wage slips and receipts for these as far as possible. Some of these items may seem trivial but can mount up as your case progresses and show just how much you have been inconvenienced as a direct result of your accident.

How are my general damages worked out?

You need a medical report by an independent medical expert which confirms that your injuries are accident related and gives a prognosis i.e. indicates when you will recover. Once this is available an experienced personal injury lawyer can work out the compensation you are entitled to by looking at past cases similar to yours and/or looking at the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines.

We have devised our own compensation calculator which may give you some idea of the sort of compensation you can expect.

Road Traffic Accident Q&A

What should I do following a road traffic accident?

In the event of an accident, try to make a note of:

Names, addresses and telephone numbers of all persons who were involved in or witnessed the accident

The make, model and registration number of all vehicles involved, including the extent of damage and whether the vehicles were still drivable The time, date and location of the accident

What happened, including witness and other drivers’ versions of events If any person involved was physically injured or is complaining of pain and discomfort

Additionally, if you can draw a diagram of the accident scene showing the road layout, position of vehicles, other relevant features and witness locations, this will help proceedings, as will taking photographs of the vehicle positions and the damage done.

What if I am injured in a road traffic accident and the other driver cannot be traced?

If the responsible driver flees the scene and you have not been able to take down any of his/her details, you can still pursue a claim for compensation through the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB). However, it will be dealt with slightly differently to a normal claim, as it would be dealt with under the Untraced Drivers’ Agreement.

Upon receipt of a claim, the MIB will investigate the claim to determine liability. Once this has been resolved, the next step would be to value your claim. Under the Untraced Drivers’ Agreement, the MIB make the arrangements for a medical examination.

You should provide us with a list of expenses also, as these could be recoverable from the MIB. However, it should be noted that if the MIB does not make any award for property damage (i.e. vehicle damage), then there is an excess of £300.

If your claim is successful, you would be compensated by the MIB through the Untraced Drivers Agreement. On top of your compensation, only a contribution will be made towards your legal costs because there is no responsible driver to recover those costs from. In these circumstances, any costs over and above those paid for by the MIB would have to be deducted from your compensation. However, Grieves would ensure these costs are kept to an absolute minimum.

What if I am injured in a road traffic accident and the other driver is not insured?

When the driver responsible for a road accident is not insured, the claim could be submitted to a government funded body known as the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB). The MIB would deal with the compensation claim under the Uninsured Drivers’ Agreement.

A claim form would have to be completed and lodged with the MIB and, upon receipt, they would investigate the claim for compensation and, once the issue of liability was resolved, Grieves would then look into valuing your claim in the same way as œWhat does the law entitle me to claim for?.

Your legal costs would be paid by the MIB on top of your compensation, and those costs would be recoverable from the responsible driver directly. It should be noted that an excess of £300 is payable, so when you are claiming for property damage – i.e. vehicle damage – the MIB would not be responsible for the first £300.

Can I Claim for Whiplash Caused by a Low Impact Collision?

Can I claim if I suffer personal injury in a road traffic accident such as whiplash but my car is not damaged?

When injuries like whiplash occur because of crash between cars at high speed, once the person who caused the accident has admitted it was their fault the next issue is how much money you should receive for your accident related injuries.

However if the person who caused the crash was not going very fast and in addition there is little or no damage to your car the issue quickly turns to how your injuries cannot have been cause by such as low speed impact crash (typically if the person who hit you was driving at under 5 mph). In such cases, the person who caused the crash will often admit that they were responsible for the crash but will argue that the accident occurred at such a low speed that the symptoms you are suffering from are either non-existent, exaggerated or not the result of the accident.

Their argument here is often based on the claim that the accident happened at too low a speed to produce the injuries claimed.

There are two schools of thought on low-speed accidents

  1. Some forensic experts are of the view that accidents involving very light damage to the car could not have produced a sufficient impact to cause injury.
  2. The other school of thought is that low-speed accidents can indeed cause injuries such as whiplash.

The reason is that while the vehicle in which you are travelling, which is a rigid structure, may suffer little damage, the sudden deceleration means that a considerable momentum is built up in the bodies of the passengers, which are not coupled to the car.

The energy generated in the crash therefore passes to the bodies of the passengers, with little decrease in force. Accordingly, the passengers also decelerate rapidly, but as they are neither rigid structures nor have built-in crumple zones. The result is often whiplash which is a common injury in such cases. This can cause further problems as the symptoms of whiplash sometimes only appear some considerable time after the accident. This means that you may not even be aware that the accident has caused you injury until later which is why it is essential to always take down the details of any driver who causes an accident even if you think you are not injured

If you do not have the defendants details or they have left the scene without giving you their details a claim can be made through the MIB untraced drivers agreement.

As a result the defendants often fight such cases rigorously which can increase the time it takes to settle such cases.

The driver who caused my accident was not insured, can I still make a claim?

You may be surprised to learn that not all compensation claims arising out of road traffic accidents are made directly against an insurance company. The reason for this could be because the person responsible for your accident does not have insurance or because the person has left the scene without leaving their details and neither you nor the police or any other person involved have been able to trace that vehicle.

When you are involved in an accident it is very important that at the very least you make a note of the responsible vehicle’s registration number. If possible, you should also take down the driver’s full name, address and insurance details.

The reason it is important to take down the registration number of the responsible driver’s vehicle is that if that driver leaves the scene of the accident without giving their personal information, Grieves Solicitors have access to a database of the insurance details for all vehicles registered in the United Kingdom since 2000.

In addition, Grieves Solicitors can make further enquiries as to ownership of the offending vehicle with the DVLA and providing insurance is in place, a letter can be sent to that insurance company notifying them of the claim.

Providing the insurance is valid, that insurance company would be responsible for payment of your compensation arising out of the accident.

Can I claim for compensation if I was a passenger?

At first glance this seems a question that does not really need an answer. However, there are a number of things to consider when advising a passenger in any kind of motor vehicle or on a motor bike.

The general rule is that if you are a passenger in a motor vehicle or on a motor cycle and are injured as a result of the negligent driving of another person then you can make a claim against that drivers insurance. If the accident was caused by the negligent driving of the vehicle in which you were a passenger then you can make a claim against that drivers insurance.

If the accident was caused by the negligence of both the driver of the vehicle in which you were a passenger and another vehicle, you can claim against both drivers insurers, and is then up to them to decide who will deal with your claim.

Problems can crop up if you are a passenger in a vehicle which you know to be stolen, or you know that the driver does not have a license, was uninsured or you knew or should have known that the driver had been drinking and was likely to be over the limit.

If you are injured as the result of negligence of an uninsured motorist then you can make a claim for damages for your injuries to the Motor Insurers Bureau, which is a Government funded body to compensate victims of such accidents.

Similarly, if you are a passenger in a car, which is involved in an accident with a œhit and run driver who cannot be traced, and the accident was the fault of that vehicle then you can claim to the Motor Insurers Bureau under their Untraced Motorists Scheme.

The answer therefore is that any passenger who is injured in a motor accident caused by the negligence of a driver can make a claim for damages for their injuries suffered in the accident, although the circumstances have to be looked at to determine against whom the claim should be made and whether the passenger has done anything to deprive themselves of their right to damages.

The best advice is to seek advice on your right of claim as soon as possible after any accident.

Do I have to use my Insurance Company's Solicitor?

The short answer is no, you have freedom of choice when selecting which solicitor you instruct to represent you when making a claim.

If you have a road traffic accident in your vehicle is damaged and you submit a claim to your motor insurer which indicates that you were injured and also suffered uninsured losses, such as lost wages, damage to clothing, you will be more than likely be contacted by your insurer offering to appoint a solicitor to act on your behalf or by a solicitor to whom they have passed your details, offering to represent you. When this happens it is likely that you will not be advised that you have freedom to choose the solicitor to conduct your claim.

Many people feel pressured to accept the solicitor put forward by their insurers, but by exercising your freedom of choice you do not affect your insurance cover and rights under the Policy.

The same principles apply to Legal Expenses Insurance cover for other types of accident, such as accidents at work, tripping/slipping accident, and accidents occurring whilst visiting premises such as shops, restaurants etc.

Often when submitting a claim form to your insurer they will inform you that you have to agree to be represented by a solicitor appointed by the insurance company to have the benefit of their cover and they neglect to inform you that you can instruct a solicitor of your choice.

The benefits of choosing your own solicitor are that you will no doubt choose someone that you already know or has been recommended by someone you know, and is local to you so that you can get access to them easily to discuss your claim. Whereas a solicitor appointed by your insurers may be a some distance away and you never have the chance to meet with them to discuss your claim face to face.

The best advice, therefore, is to take time to consider your options and not just to accept the offer of representation put forward by your insurer, make enquiries before you make your decision, you have nothing to lose and possibly everything to gain.

Slip and Trip Q&A

What should I do if I have had a tripping/slipping/falling accident?

If you are injured in a tripping accident in a public place you should try to:

  • Make a note of where the accident occurred e.g. the house number and road outside which it happened
  • Take details of any witnesses to the incident. [Even if they are friends or relatives their evidence is still important].
  • If possible take a photograph of the defect that caused the incident, with something to show a scale – such as a ruler, a coin, matchbox or an object of a fixed size, or make a plan of the accident site.

As soon as practical, whilst it is still fresh in your memory, write down your version of how the accident occurred.

See a doctor for an examination even if your injuries are relatively minor.

If the injuries can still be seen (e.g. bruising, cuts etc) get a photograph for later use. This can be used as evidence of your injury.

Keep details of any clothing, glasses etc., damaged in the incident. Keep receipts for any expenses incurred such as prescription charges, over the counter medicines, traveling expenses such as necessary taxi journeys.

How can I bring a successful compensation claim if I have had a tripping accident in the street or on the road?

In order to be successful it is necessary to prove:

  • The defect (raised paving slab, hole in tarmac etc) which caused the accident must be dangerous.
  • The defect must have been caused by the council not maintaining or repairing the footpath; and
  • The injury was caused as a direct result of the defect and the council’s failure to maintain the footpath.

The defect (raised paving slab, hole in tarmac etc) which caused the accident must be dangerous.

It is difficult to give guidance on what the court will find to be dangerous. It will depend on the type and size of the defect, if it has caused other accidents, where it is located (i.e. outside an old people’s home, school or hospital will be more dangerous than on a residential footpath) and any other relevant factors.

It is, therefore, important that as soon as practicably possible after your accident you take photographs of the place where you had your accident, showing its depth, length and width.

The courts have made it clear that they do not expect footpaths and carriageways to be maintained to a ‘bowling green’ standard. It is generally accepted that where the defect’s depth or height is below one inch then it is unlikely that the claim will succeed.

Even if the defect is found to be dangerous, then the council can still defend the claim if they can show that they carried out an inspection of the section of highway, within a reasonable period of time prior to the accident.

The general guidance for what is a reasonable period of time for footway inspections is confirmed in the Local Authorities’ Code of Practice for Maintenance Management and is as follows:

Busy urban shopping and business area, bus stations and train stations should be inspected once a month.

  • Local shopping centres, large schools and industrial centres should be inspected every three months.
  • Footways through urban areas and busy rural footways should be inspected every six months.
  • Low usage footways and cul de sacs should be inspected every 12 months.

Most councils now operate a system which complies with these inspection requirements, so it is consequently very difficult to succeed in a claim. However, if it can be proven to the court’s satisfaction that the defect was present and ‘missed’ or simply not seen at the time the inspection was carried out, then the claim will usually succeed (subject, of course, to the court also finding that the defect was dangerous).

The usual way to prove that the defect was missed at the time of the inspection is by obtaining evidence from a witness or witnesses(usually somebody who lives near to or passes over the defect regularly) who can confirm that they have seen the defect before and that it has been present for a long period of time and must, therefore, have been missed at the time of the council’s inspection.

In summary, it is often (contrary to public belief) very difficult to prove a tripping claim. However, most cases do not proceed to court and with good evidence a claim will usually succeed.

Have other questions?

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