What is a personal injury compensation claim?

If you have sustained an injury which could be attributed to the fault of another, you may be able to claim compensation by way of damages to compensate you for all of your losses which have arisen as a result. The injury you have sustained can be either physical or psychological, and could have been caused by the act of another, or by another individual’s failure to act.

How to make a claim

Our team of solicitors will be able to guide you through the entire process of bringing a claim against the individual(s), employer or relevant authority responsible for your injury. Contact our team on 01392 573599 to discuss the first steps in this process.

Time limits for bringing a claim

We advise that you contact us as soon as you are able to if you wish to bring a claim for personal injury. This is because there is a time limit for bringing a claim. The time limit for bringing a claim for personal injury is three years from the later of these two dates:

  1. The date which the injury was caused; or
  2. The date on which the person injured had ‘knowledge’ (defined below)

For the purposes of (2), the date of knowledge is determined from the date at which:

  1. You knew that the injury was significant; and
  2. You realised that your injury was attribute to a negligent act (or failure to act); and
  3. You become aware of the identity of the Defendant

The latest date in this sequence of events is the date from which the time limit for bringing a claim will run. For example, if you are knocked over by a car whilst walking on the pavement, you would be aware that you have an injury which is significant and it is very likely that being knocked over on the pavement by a car would be considered to be as the result of a negligent act or omission on the part of the driver. However, without knowing the identity of the Defendant, the time period for the purposes of limitation will not begin to run. Following this example, if you are made aware of the identity of the driver following a police investigation, for example, one week later, the time limit will begin to run from this date going forwards, as opposed to the date on which you sustained the injury.

In any event, it is best to contact us as soon as you become aware of an injury caused by the potential negligence of another. The courts do have a general discretion to be able to disapply this time bar in very limited circumstances, but it is advisable not to rely on this discretion being exercised and instead to contact us as soon as you are aware that you intend to make a claim.  

Examples of types of personal injury claim (non-exhaustive list)

Below we have listed some of the most common categories of claims for personal injury. This is a non-exhaustive list, and if your claim is not listed below that is not to say that you do not have grounds for a claim for personal injury.

Injury sustained at work

Some of the most common claims for personal injury are those brought by an employee against an employer for an injury sustained at work. Your employer owes you a duty of care to, for example, provide you with the appropriate training to use the equipment you are expected to use during the course of your employment, provide you with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and to ensure that the equipment which you are expected to use during the course of your employment is in a safe, working order.

Common examples of training which you may expect to undertake, depending on your role, is manual handling training, warehouse safety training and forklift truck driver training.

It is also possible to claim for distress which has been caused by harassment or discrimination which you have experienced within the workplace.

The harm caused by your employer’s breach of duty they owe to you could be by causing a new injury, or by aggravating an existing condition from which you are suffering.

Asbestosis

Another common category of claims for personal injury are those arising from exposure to asbestos which has caused you, or your relative, to develop asbestosis. Asbestosis is a long-term lung condition which develops a long time after the exposure, commonly around 20-30 years after exposure. Depending on the level and duration of the exposure, individual’s symptoms can vary significantly. Some people are able to continue to lead a largely normal life, whilst others who have had more of an exposure risk contracting certain forms of cancer which can significantly shorten their life expectancy.

Due to the length of time which it takes for asbestosis to be detected and develop following exposure, this can cause some issues if you have worked for a variety of employers in your lifetime and you have been, or you suspect you have been, exposed to asbestos in a number of different jobs which you have held with different employers. However, it is possible for all of those employers to admit an element of liability such that they could all contribute to your compensation.

If you have been diagnosed with asbestosis, you may also be able to claim certain benefits, such as Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. Our solicitors will be able to advise you as to whether you are entitled to this benefit alongside your claim for compensation for the harm caused by asbestosis.

Injury sustained in a road traffic collision

If you have been involved in a road traffic collision in which you sustained injury, and you were not at fault for the collision, it may be possible for you to claim compensation for the injuries you sustained during the collision. If the accident was partially your fault, and partially the fault of the other driver(s), you may nonetheless be able to claim a certain amount of compensation for the injuries which you sustained during the collision.

You are also able to make a claim if you are the passenger in a vehicle involved in a road traffic collision. The driver of the vehicle you are in owes you a duty of care, and thus you may be able to claim compensation for your losses resulting from your injury if they were driving recklessly or dangerously. Equally, if the other driver is at fault, you may be able to claim compensation from your injuries from them.

One of the most common injuries sustained during minor road traffic collisions is whiplash where, due to the mechanics of a collision, the head is thrown forwards and then backwards as the car comes to halt. The symptoms of whiplash can vary from stiffness and a sore neck for a few days after the collision, to more permanent damage. The impact which this injury has on your life will determine the amount of compensation which you may be able to recover.

Road traffic collisions can also involve cyclists. Such accidents can be caused by the fault of the driver and/or cyclist, or due to the condition of the road or cycle lane being used by the cyclist at the time. Depending on the nature of the incident, a claim may be brought against the driver, the authority responsible for the road/cycle lane, or a combination of both.

Injury as a result of a criminal act

If you have suffered harm as a result of criminal act which has been committed against you, you could be entitled to compensation. The range of criminal acts which results in harm is very broad and includes, but is not limited to, childhood abuse, assault, sexual offences, and those involved in terrorist attacks.

Compensation in such circumstances may be obtained from Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. An application must be made to this authority within two years from the date that the offence is committed against you. Our solicitors will be able to assist you with this application if you are eligible to claim compensation in this manner.

Compensation

The amount of compensation you can claim will be limited to the extent of your injuries and the losses which have resulted from your injuries. There are two types of damages which you are able to claim for.

  1. Special damages – seek to compensate you for the actual losses which you have incurred up to the date that the claim is settled, or up to the date of the court hearing. This category of damages will also take into account your future loss of earnings and future medical expenses which you may incur as a result of your injury. This includes (for example):
    1. Cost of hiring a replacement car until yours is repaired / replaced
    2. Loss of earnings, either because you have been unable to work, or you are earning less because your duties are restricted by your injury
    3. Damage to personal items such as clothing, mobile phones, glasses etc.
    4. Medical expenses incurred as a result of your injury (such as physiotherapy)
  2. General damages – seek to compensate you for the pain and suffering you have experienced, and will experience, as a result of your injury. This includes both physical and emotional pain. This category of damages is more difficult to quantify (i.e. ‘put a price to’) because it involves attributing a financial value to your pain and suffering.

The process

After we have discussed your case with you, we will send a letter before action to the Defendant and/or their solicitor. This letter will outline the basis upon which your claim is made, a summary of the facts of the case as you have explained to us and set out the remedy (i.e. the amount of compensation) which you are seeking.

The Defendant will then have three months to reply with a letter of response (or a letter of settlement if liability is accepted in full, as well as the amount of compensation claimed). Even if the Defendant does not agree to settle at this stage, it is important to note that the majority of cases settle before they reach the point of being heard in court. The Defendant may accept that they are partially responsible for your injury, or they may accept that they are fully responsible but dispute the amount which you are claiming. Our team of solicitors will take you through each step of this process.