About an Injury Compensation Solicitor
People who have no previous experience of an injury compensation solicitor are often apprehensive about picking up the phone to seek legal advice, but suffering an injury may be one the most difficult experiences in a person’s life – bringing not only physical pain but also emotional trauma. If you have been injured in an accident, you may be fortunate enough to get support and advice from well-meaning friends and family, whose kind words and deeds may alleviate some of your stress – and in this manner, assist with your recovery. However, when a third party is to blame for your accident, speaking to an injury compensation solicitor, who fully understands what you are experiencing, is a crucial step in ensuring that you receive your maximum entitlement of injury compensation.
Qualifying for Injury Compensation
An injury compensation solicitor´s first role is to ascertain that clients are indeed qualified to make an injury compensation claim. Inasmuch as many instances of personal injury are straightforward, there are two conditions which have to be fulfilled before an injury compensation solicitor will advise his clients to proceed with an injury compensation claim — injury and negligence. In most cases, the fact that at injury has occurred is quantifiable by medical records. However, in some cases, a “near-miss” might have caused no physical injury, but may have resulted in a psychological trauma which haunts a person through the rest of their life.
Similarly, if a motorist rear-ends you when they have been driving too close or too quickly to stop in time, they are clearly negligent for any injury which results. However, should you sustain an injury in the workplace because you failed to follow the health and safety policies put in place by your employer, you cannot claim that you employer is liable for your injuries. Only if the employer has failed to provide adequate training or personal protective equipment will an injury compensation solicitor advise a client to proceed with an injury compensation claim in these circumstances and, as a rule, injury without negligence — or negligence without injury — will not entitle you to receive injury compensation.
Contributory Negligence and Injury Compensation
An injury compensation solicitor also has to be aware of the possibility of contributory negligence in any injury compensation claim. Contributory negligence usually relates to a client being partially responsible for their own injuries. An example of this would be in the rear-end accident above, where the client failed to wear a seatbelt at the time of the collision or had faulty brake lights on their vehicle. If the negligent driver was driving too fast, or too close, to avoid an accident, he is still responsible for your injuries because of his negligence, however the severity of your injury may have been exacerbated by your own lack of care, and any subsequent injury compensation settlement will be reduced because of your own contributory negligence.
A further occasion when contributory negligence may apply in an injury compensation claim is when more than one negligent party is responsible for your injury. This may occur in the same rear-end scenario if you have had to pull up sharply to avoid a collision with another road user jumping a red light. Both the driver who errantly pulled away at a junction and the driver who rear-ended you because he was driving to close have contributed to your injuries, and it will be left to an injury compensation solicitor to negotiate with the two negligent drivers´ insurance company to determine the proportion of blame to be allocated to each driver
Your Health is All-Important
Any injury compensation solicitor will advise that in all cases of injury, you priority must for your health. In serious injuries, an ambulance and the police would normally be summoned to the scene of the accident but fortunately, most personal injuries are of a minor nature and treatment can be received at either the accident and emergency department of your local hospital or your local GP. It is always better to be accompanied by a friend or a work colleague who has witnessed the accident and who can relay to doctors how it occurred.
Sometimes you may feel that you injuries are too slight to bother with seeing a doctor, but the record of a medical examination will be required by an injury compensation solicitor if you wish to proceed with an injury compensation claim. To delay seeking a medical examination may lead to the negligent party claiming that your own lack of care was responsible for the injury to increase in severity — for example if you sustain a whiplash injury in a rear-end accident, but act as if nothing has happened until the symptoms of the injury manifest. With a whiplash injury this could be as long as a week, during which time you have made the injury worse by stretching the unsupported soft tissues around the neck and spinal cord.
Report your Injury to the Proper Authorities
One further point of process an injury compensation solicitor will insist upon is that your accident and injuries are reported to the proper authorities. If a serious road traffic accident, for example, it is normal procedure for the police to attend and compile their own report. However, should they deem your accident to be of low priority, you will need to visit a police station and report the accident, explain the circumstances in which it happened and ensure that it is recorded in the police “Accident Report Book”. Your injury compensation solicitor will also need a copy of this report to support your injury compensation claim along with your medical records.
A slip in a shop, a case of food poisoning from a restaurant or trip in the street which results in an injury should also be recorded to the appropriate authority (respectively the store owner, environmental health office and local council), supported by appropriate evidence wherever possible and the statements of witnesses. A work injury not only has to be recorded in the employer´s “Accident Report Book” but reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) if your injury requires that you take longer than three days away from work. Your report to the HSE (sometimes done by the employer) may result in an investigation being launched — the results of which will also strengthen your injury compensation claim.
How Much Compensation Are You Entitled To?
There are four main elements to an injury compensation claim — three of these come under the heading of General Damages and the fourth known as Special Damages. Other forms of compensation may apply in specific circumstances, and your injury compensation solicitor will be able to advise you whether you are entitled to receive any additional injury compensation and, if so, how much.
You are entitled to claim general damages for the physical pain and suffering you experienced at the time and subsequent to your accident, compensation for any loss of amenity (the deterioration in your quality of life due to the injuries you sustained) and for any psychological trauma you suffered. Proving emotional distress can often be difficult, however experts have argued that every physical trauma leaves a residue (if not more) of post traumatic stress disorder and, if it can be proven that you have sustained a psychological injury, then you are entitled to include that factor in your injury compensation claim
An injury compensation solicitor will also ensure that you are advised of all the special damages you are entitled to claim. Special damages are quantifiable costs that you have incurred which you otherwise would not have if the injury had never occurred. They can range from trips to hospital to receive treatment, to the cost of medications, to the employment of care assistants to look after you to the complete restructuring of your home to permit wheelchair access. Special damages also account for any loss of income due to your injury and the legal fees you may be required to pay in the pursuit of your injury compensation claim.
Contact a No Win, No Fee Injury Compensation Solicitor
Since 1995 and the restriction of the Legal Aid service, solicitors have been offering to accept injury compensation claims on a “no win, no fee” basis provided that they have a strong chance of success. The closer the procedures following an injury have been adhered to, the more willing an injury compensation solicitor is to accept a injury compensation claim on a “no win, no fee” basis. However, if you or a loved one have just dealt with the health issues, and are unsure about what to do next, now is the best time to speak with an injury compensation solicitor to get helpful and practical advice.
Speak With an Injury Compensation Solicitor
There are a lot of procedures to be followed when making an injury compensation claim and when you are recovery from an injury it is not always possible to get them done yourself. Furthermore, you may encounter difficulties obtaining the insurance details of the driver who rear-ended you or find that your employer is unwilling to cooperate with your demand to have your workplace accident reported to the HSE. No two injury compensation claims are alike — irrespective of the nature of your injury — and this is why it is important that you speak with an injury compensation solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity.