Starting a personal injury claim can seem like a difficult process. In reality, if you choose a good personal injury solicitor to handle your claim the process will run smoothly. There are, however, some things that you can do to help your claim be successful.
We have listed 12 things that you should know before you start your claim.
1. There is no automatic right to compensation
To claim compensation, you must prove that the accident or injury was caused by the negligent actions of another person or organisation (known as the Defendant). In other words, there must someone who is to blame for the accident.
If you have caused the accident yourself, and no-one else is to blame, it will not usually be possible to make a personal injury claim. This is because, in most cases, the claim is made against the insurance company of the person who caused the accident.
How do I know who is to blame for the accident?
It is not always clear who is legally responsible for an accident. You may think that you are at fault. You might think that it was ‘just an accident’ that caused your injury.
If you are partly to blame, and someone else is also partly to blame, you may be able to make a claim.
You may not be aware that legal responsibility rests with another person and a claim can therefore be made. It is therefore always best to contact a personal injury solicitor to see if you can make a claim.
2. There are time limits for making a personal injury claim
Most personal injury claims are subject to a strict time limit requiring court proceedings to be commenced within 3 years of the date of accident or injury.
Some claims are subject to a shorter time limit. It is therefore important that you take legal advice and don’t delay in bringing your claim!
3. Record important details about the accident
Your solicitor will need the details about the accident. It is important that you keep a record of important details including
- What happened? Keep a detailed record of how the accident happened.
- When did the accident happen? the accident date and time will be required
- Where did it happen? This will include addresses, street names, company details.
- How were you injured? What injuries did you sustain? What medical treatment did you require?
- Who was involved? Names and addresses of anyone involved in the accident will be required.
- Are there witnesses? Make a note of the contact details for any witnesses
- Registration numbers of any vehicles involved
4. Support your personal injury claim with photographs & video
Photographs and video can be very helpful to support your claim. If possible, you should try to take photographs of
- The accident location
- The cause of the accident – e.g. a raised footpath, pothole, spillage or defect
- Damage to any property or vehicles
- Visible injuries such as bruising
- Dashcam footage can be very useful evidence in road accident cases
5. Take measurements!
Measurements and photographs are particularly important in tripping accident cases.
If you have tripped on a defective floor, pothole or footpath, you should measure and photograph the defect. You can find more information about the use of photographs in pavement tripping accidents here.
Maps & sketch plans showing the accident location can also be helpful.
6. Report the accident
If you are injured at work, report it to your supervisor or manager and request that the accident is recorded in the accident book. Click here for more information about reporting an injury at work.
Accidents in shops & other premises should be reported to a member of staff and recorded in the accident book before you leave the premises.
7. Reporting Road Accidents
Exchange details at the scene. Make sure that you obtain the name and address and registration number of any other drivers involved. You should also give the other driver your details.
Don’t worry if you can’t recall insurance company details at the scene of the accident. This information can be obtained later via a search of the Motor Insurers Database – provided that the vehicle registration number is available. It is therefore extremely important to obtain the vehicle registration number at the time of the accident.
If you are unable to exchange details at the scene or if it is unsafe to do so, you should report the accident to the police within 24 hours.
ALL road accidents, however minor, must be reported to your own insurance company – even if you are not making a claim and there is no damage or injury. Failure to report a road accident to your insurance company can result in your insurance policy becoming invalid. Read more about this here.
For further information take a look at What Should I Do After a Road Accident
8. Reporting Highway & Pavement Tripping Accidents
Highway tripping accidents can be reported to the local council but this should only be done after measurements and photographs of the defect have been obtained.
You should check with your solicitor before reporting a highway tripping accident directly to the Highway Authority.
9. Keep details of your losses and expenses
- You must provide evidence of any financial losses claimed
- Keep receipts for expenses incurred
- Keep a record of all expenses incurred as a result of the accident including travel expenses, medication costs, damaged items, and loss of earnings
10. Medical evidence is required to support your injury claim
- You should seek medical advice from a hospital or GP as appropriate, depending upon the injury sustained
- Medical evidence is required to support your claim
- Your solicitor will also arrange for you to be examined by an independent doctor for the purpose of obtaining a report
11. Keep a diary to support your personal injury claim
- Keep a diary or a record of the ways in which your day to day life is affected by your injury
- Include details of any care & assistance that you require
- Record how your sleep, hobbies, work, and everyday activities have been affected
- This information can be used in support of your claim
12. Don’t gamble with your claim!
- Insurers may contact you directly to make an early offer to settle your claim
- Remember! Insurance companies will act in their best interests, not yours.
- The offer may be much less than your claim is actually wort
- Beware of early offers to settle your claim before medical evidence is obtained
- Always take your own legal advice before accepting any offer
Always make sure – take your own independent legal advice
The simplest way to check if you are able to make a claim is to take legal advice from a solicitor. At Beckett & Co Solicitors we are happy to discuss your potential claim with you completely free of charge. All you need to do is call us on freephone 0800 731 5434 or complete our online contact form.