Making a Claim
We know more than most that making a claim can be very daunting and confusing, but we’re here to reassure you that we’re on your side! We put together a range of information all relating to the process of making a claim. While we’ve covered all the main points here, if there is anything you’re still wondering about or want more detail on, just send us a message or give us a call.
Your Guide to Making a claim
If you’ve suffered an injury or illness through the negligence of another party then that other party should be made to compensate you. It’s as simple as that. You’ve already paid in terms of pain and distress, you shouldn’t have to keep paying, financially or otherwise, into the future. Some injuries, such as the loss of a limb, are obvious whilst others, like stress and anxiety, are less so, but the term ‘injury’ covers physical or psychological symptoms.
Making a claim doesn’t mean cashing in, it means:
- Your suffering being recognised.
- Your immediate expenses being covered.
- Any on-going financial impact being minimised.
When Should I Make My Claim?
The best advice is always to start thinking about making a claim for compensation as soon after the actual incident as is possible. Events will still be fresh in your mind, evidence easier to gather and a stronger case more likely to be built. Over and above this, however, is the fact that, legally speaking, there is a time limit of three years after which, in most cases, a compensation claim will not be allowed.
The details are laid out in the Limitation Act 1980 and state that, with some exceptions, a claim has to be launched no more than three years after the accident which caused the injury. Exceptions to this rule include some cases of medical negligence or work-place injury in which the time limit runs from the date upon which the illness becomes apparent.
An illness such as Mesothelioma, for example, a rare type of cancer usually caused by exposure to asbestos dust, may take decades to be diagnosed, and so the three year limit will run from the date of this diagnosis.
Other exceptions to the three year rule:
- Children – if a child is injured then a guardian can pursue a claim for compensation up to the age of 18. It is after the injured party turns 18 that the three year limitation comes into force.
- Mental Health – if the claimant has suffered an injury (i.e. brain damage) which means they can’t purse a claim then, the Mental Health Act 1983 says that the three year limit can be delayed until they are well again. Similarly, if you were suffering from a mental illness at the time of your injury then the time limit will date from when your treatment ends.
- Industrial Illnesses – many illnesses caused by poor working conditions take many years to become apparent. If this is the case, the three year limit runs from when a link is made between the illness and the working conditions.
- Discretion – in exceptional circumstances a court may decide to waive the three year rule. Your personal injury lawyer will be able to advise whether this is likely in your case.
If your child has been injured then you can claim on their behalf before they turn 18. A baby injured during birth, for example, may need compensation to pay for specialist care for the rest of their life and the sooner a claim commences, the better. Similarly, if a close relative suffers a fatality in an accident, you can make a claim on their behalf.
Different Types Of Accidents
Criminal Injury – if you are the innocent victim of an injury sustained when someone was carrying out a criminal act, then you can claim for compensation. In the case of criminal injury, however, you don’t claim from the other party directly but from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). This is a government run body which pays compensation to:
- The innocent victims of crime.
- Witnesses to a violent criminal act.
- The close relatives of people who have been injured during a criminal act.
For more details on CICA visit their website.
Medical Negligence – if the medical treatment you receive was not of the standard you might reasonably expect and left you ill or injured then you can claim compensation. Claims of this kind can be pursued against NHS or privately run facilities and are often amongst the most complex cases. The NHS Litigation Authority will examine claims against the NHS and, if they accept blame, will try to negotiate compensation. If the other party denies negligence then the case will have to go to court, and this is a process which can take several years, underlining the need to employ the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Uninsured/Untraced Drivers – if you are involved in an accident with a driver who isn’t insured, or who leaves the scene and then can’t be traced, it is still possible to claim compensation. Cases such as these are handled by the Motor Insurers Bureau (M.I.B.), an independent body funded by the industry.
These are a very small selection of the types of accidents or injuries which you can claim compensation for. To see a more complete list, visit our types of claims page.
The Process of Making a Claim
The idea of taking legal action is often daunting, but with the help of a personal injury lawyer the process of claiming compensation can be broken down into fairly simple steps, with all of the legal complexities handled on your behalf.
- Filing a claim – this basically consists of giving the details of your case to a court, so they can serve the claim upon the negligent party. You do this by filling in a Particulars of Claim form providing as many details as possible. The court will then contact the other party to let them know you are seeking compensation. A template of the letter sent out can be found at the ministry of justice website.
- Liability – in many cases, the intention to take action will be enough to make the other party admit negligence and begin the process of negotiating compensation. This is when your lawyer’s experience of what a fair amount should be will prove invaluable.
- Court – if the other party denies negligence then the case will have to be settled in court. Although it sounds daunting this will usually be nothing like the ornate, formal courts witnessed on TV. The process consists of you and your representative presenting the details of your case as clearly as possible to a judge or panel of judges. They will then decide if you have been injured through negligence, and how much compensation you should receive.
How Compensation is Calculated
If you receive compensation it will be calculated as two separate components:
- General damages – this is an amount of money intended to compensate for your pain and suffering. It will be calculated using the government published Judicial College guidelines, which are intended to reflect the type and severity of your injury. Examples include £73,620 to £96,150 for the amputation of a foot, £5,110 to £11,640 for a moderate hand injury and between £34,000 and £141,150 for a severe back injury.
- Special damages – this part of your compensation is intended to make sure that you don’t end up out of pocket thanks to your injury. It will include expenses up to the day of the settlement, such as medical bills, travel costs, repairs to a car etc. and will also allow for the costs of care going forward and any impact on your earning power in future years.
Don’t hesitate to give us a call, or fill out the simple claims form at the top of this page, if you feel you are ready to proceed with your claim.