Personal injury claims

Essential reading

Suffering a personal injury can forever change your life. If the negligence of another individual or parties causes you to suffer needlessly at their hands you may be eligible for personal injury compensation.

More than three million innocent people are injured in accidents each year in the United Kingdom. These accidents can occur in the home, in their cars, while at their place of employment, or even in an outdoor setting.

Thankfully, the legal system in the United Kingdom allows for victims to be compensated for their injuries, including their medical bills, lost wages, and any pain and suffering they have faced. Though navigating the personal injury claims process through the legal system can sometimes be quite overwhelming and time-consuming. Before filing an injury claim, it is important to know what all is involved, personal injury protocol, and what the personal injury claims process is like.

No matter what type of accident or injury you have suffered at the hands of another person or party, you may have a valid claim for a personal injury. The best way to find out for sure is to speak with a professional solicitor who specialises in personal injuries and accidents.

Should I Hire a Personal Injury Solicitor?

When you make a decision to move forward with an injury claim, you expect to be successful and are committing to a long, and sometimes emotional road. You want to make sure you have the best chance at winning your case. For most people, this means hiring a personal injury solicitor. Many victims mistakenly believe that dealing with the insurance companies directly will be quicker, easier, and more cost effective. They believe that the personal injury protocol will work for them. However, for most victims this couldn’t be further from the truth. Studies show that victims who use a personal injury solicitor are more successful and are compensated more, than those who do not. Insurance companies for the defendants know to take cases represented by a professional seriously.

The law pertaining to personal injury cases and the personal injury claims process can be confusing. There are many rules and deadlines to personal injury protocol. Without knowing and being educated on the rules and the personal injury claims process, your injury claim can be dead in the water. Using a professional highly versed in personal injury protocol can be of significant help and increase your chances of a high compensation for your injury.

How to Choose a Solicitor

Many law professionals in the field of personal injury offer a free consultation. During this consultation they assess your claim to see if you have a justifiable claim. When hired, this professional comes along side you to fight for your best interests and deal with the insurance companies involved, relieving you of the hassle, stress, and the risk of making a mistake.

When hiring a personal injury solicitor, you will want to ask the following questions:

  • What type of education do you have?
  • How long have you been practicing law?
  • How long have you been representing injury victims?
  • Is personal injury your only area of practice?
  • How many of your cases go to trial?
  • When is the last time you went to trial?
  • Do you have time to work on my case now?
  • How can I contact you with pressing issues or questions?
  • Will you keep me involved in the process?
  • What is my case worth?
  • Will you involve me in the decisions regarding my injury case?
  • Are you a member of the Law Society’s Personal Injury accreditation scheme?
  • Are you regulated and insured?

You should also be sure that your personal injury solicitor is someone that you feel comfortable talking with and can establish a good rapport with. This person may end up knowing a lot of personal, and even intimate details of your life during the course of their representation. Make sure it is someone you trust and someone you feel you can be honest with.

What is Required to Win a Claim?

According to personal injury protocol, in order to win your claim and be awarded compensation, there are several things that the victim must prove. They must show that there is a person or organisation that a claim can be made against. They must show that the person or organisation owed you a duty to avoid your accident and injury, and could have taken steps to avoid the situation. Furthermore, they must prove that your injury was the direct result of foreseeable consequences related to the failure of the responsible person or organisation to take reasonable steps to avoid causing your accident or injury. Claimants must note that even when their accident or injury seems simple, it can be very difficult to establish who is at fault and prove they did not act on their responsibility.

It is the job of a personal injury solicitor to find who is at fault and why. To do this, your solicitor may take many different steps. They can seek statements from witnesses, recreate accidents, and collect documents and reports, like medical records and police reports.

You may be asked by your personal injury solicitor to undergo an independent medical exam. This exam is to prove the extent of your injuries. It will be conducted by a medical expert who has not treated you previously, in order to satisfy the courts that it was done by an independent non-bias party. If, by chance, the independent medical examination is unable to link your injuries to the accident or the other party’s negligence, it will be next to impossible to take your claim any further. This does not mean that the medical expert does not take your injuries or pain seriously. It means that in his or her expert medical opinion, your injuries and pain were not caused by the accident you are claiming it was caused by. Your solicitor can provide you with more information on this topic.

The Personal Injury Claims Process

You generally have only three years from the date if the accident or injury to make your claim. Once you have done your research and hired a professional to help you with your personal injury claim, you are probably anxious to know how your case will proceed and what the next step might be. Once your solicitor has gathered all the important details of your case, he or she will draft a letter to the person or party responsible for your accident. This party is the defendant in the case. This letter will explain what happened to you, how you received your injury and the details of your injury. Depending on your injuries and certain circumstances, your solicitor may also suggest a relevant specialist for an expert opinion in support of your injury claim. This letter gets the ball rolling and notifies the defendant that you are seeking compensation for their negligence in your injury.

After this letter has been sent to the defendant, they will have a legally set period of time in which to respond. Usually this is no more than three months. Sometimes it is an even shorter period of time. When the defendant responds to the letter, they must clearly state whether they accept or deny responsibility in your injury. If the defending party does accept liability, your solicitor can try to settle your claim out of court. This is the most ideal situation, however, it is not likely that the defendant will readily accept responsibility for your injury claims.

Your professional solicitor will most likely have already discussed what he or she believes your personal injury compensation might be. If they haven’t, they will do so at this point. Once your claim letter has been sent to the defendant, your solicitor will probably ask you what you would consider fair personal injury compensation for your claim and what you would be willing to accept if the claim were to settle outside of court. He or she will discuss with you making an offer to settle out of court and how much that offer, known as a Part 36 offer, should be.

If the defendant returns with a reasonable counter offer to your Part 36 offer, and you can both agree on a settlement amount, your claim can be settled out of court. This happens in as many as 90 percent of personal injury and accident claims, though it can be an ongoing and back and forth process.

If the defendant and you with your solicitor cannot find an agreeable personal injury compensation sum, legal action may commence. In the event that the defendant denies liability for your accident and subsequent injury, your solicitor may recommend going to court to challenge their stance. Should the court agree that the defendant is responsible for your injury, the court can award you the compensation that they deem relevant and necessary.

Taking Your Claim to Court

If you end up pursuing your personal injury compensation claim within the court system, your solicitor will inform you of any preparation that need to be made. You will be assigned a hearing date and your case will be heard before a judge.

At this point, many personal injury victims can be overwhelmed. However, it is vital to remember that your solicitor is a trusted member of your team and has prepared your case for such a time as this. Your solicitor can help calm your nerves by explaining exactly what to expect. Once the judge has heard your case, you wait to hear if you have won your claim and what your personal injury compensation will be.

The Cost of Your Claim

It is a good idea to compare the cost of solicitors before choosing one. The cost of pursuing your injury claim within the legal system can vary, depending on many factors, such as the complexity of your case, the method used to fund it, and the experience of the particular solicitor.

Different solicitor offices can set up different financial arrangements. Some will require you to pay the costs associated with your claim, such as the expense of medical evidence, postage, or copies, as you go. These types of legal expenses are known as disbursements.

Unfortunately, legal aid is no longer available in the UK for personal injury claims. However, if you win your case, the defendant will be required to pay all or most of your basic legal expenses. Some solicitors will take on personal injury victims on a no-win, no-fee basis. In these circumstances, if you lose, you do not owe the solicitor anything for their services. If you win your claim, you will be required to pay the success fee of your solicitor. This fee cannot be recovered in your claim from the defendant. If you lose your claim, your solicitor will explain your options for covering your costs. He or she will also advise you as to what you will be responsible for paying on your side and on the defendant’s side.

Before pursuing your personal injury compensation claim, be sure you understand the potential associated costs, as well as which costs will be recoverable. When it comes to the expense of a claim, be sure to ask the following questions:

  • How much do you anticipate that this case will cost?
  • How are the costs worked out?
  • Does the solicitor charge by the hour?
  • Will you do a no-win no-fee arrangement?
  • If I lose my claim, how can the fees be paid?
  • Will I need insurance coverage to protect against the possibility of having to the pay the defendant’s costs?
  • Are there other options for funding my claim with you?

What is a Personal Injury Trust?

A personal injury trust is a legally binding trust in which monies are held by a trustee for the benefit of another person or party. The terms of a trust deed, or legal agreement, apply to a trust specific to a personal injury. Related circumstances and applicable laws dictate the terms of the trust. A personal injury trust is made up only of funds from a payment in relation to a personal injury case. The settlor, or person or party funding the trust, is the injured party. The settlor is also required to be the sole beneficiary, or at least one of the beneficiaries of the trust. These aspects are very important as it provides, by English law that the personal injury trust need not have to be a particular type of trust to be a personal injury trust. This is only determined by the source of the trust and the involvement of the injured settlor.

Types of Trusts

There are different types of trusts that can be used in a personal injury claim. The right one depends on the circumstances and purpose of the trust. A bare trust is held for the settlor and administered by the trustees. When the settlor passes away, the trust funds legally become a part of their estate and is treated as such. A life interest trust is held by its trustees for the settlor for his or her benefit. When the settlor expires, the trust passes onto others within the terms of the trust. A discretionary trust is administered and held by the trustees to benefit the party that was injured and possibly other parties, at the discretion of the trustees. A hybrid trust is also available. With a hybrid trust, the terms of the trust are flexible and can combine features of different trusts, such as the life trust and the discretionary trust.

Applicable tax law, family circumstances, personal injury protocol, and the needs of the settlor will all determine the type of trust used. No matter the type of trust used, if it is funded by monies from a personal injury settlement, it is considered a personal injury trust. In some areas, this type of trust is known as a special interest trust, or more specifically a compensation protection trust under English law.

Benefits of a Trust for a Personal Injury Award

This type of trust can help the injured party to be eligible for certain means-tested State entitlements. It can be the best way to utilise the compensation award for a personal injury under English law. There can be other potential advantages. A trust can be used no matter where the injury or accident occurred and no matter the size of the award.

Trusts for Personal Injuries and Taxes

It is important to note that, in the UK, there are no tax benefits to using a trust for a personal injury award. The UK laws surrounding taxation anti-avoidance prevent tax benefits for settlers in trusts. Settlers should always seek the advice of an attorney when considering a trust for their personal injury trust. Choosing the wrong type of trust can cause adverse consequences when it comes to taxes.

What Type of Injuries to Claim For

You may be wondering if your injury warrants a personal injury compensation claim. Injuries of various types and severities can quality for a claim. The most common injured body parts warranting a claim are:

  • Abdomen
  • Arm
  • Back
  • Chest
  • Face
  • Foot
  • Hand
  • Head
  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Leg
  • Neck
  • Shoulder
  • Skin

Average and Estimated Compensation Amounts

The amount of personal injury compensation can vary case by case. Compensation can also depend on the type of injury, the severity of injury, the party responsible and their insurance company, the lasting effects of the injury, and other factors.

  • Pelvis and Hip Injuries £6.5K –£13K
  • Leg Injuries £4K – £150K
  • Knee Injuries £6K – £85K
  • Ankle Injuries (Severe) £21K – £250K
  • Toe(s) Injuries
  • Torso, Arms and Hands
  • Shoulder Injuries £1.5K – £9K
  • Back Injuries £1K – £250K
  • Upper Limb Injuries £3K – £1M+
  • Elbow Injuries £1K – £15K
  • Wrist Injuries £3.5K — £19.5K
  • Hand Injuries £25K — £1M+
  • Finger Injuries £1K — £75K
  • Head and Neck Injuries
  • Damage to Hair £1K — £15K
  • Facial Disfigurement £1K — £75K
  • Nose Fracture £5K — £15K
  • Damage of Teeth £1K — £15K
  • Fracture of the Jaw £3K — £8.5K
  • Neck Injuries £1K — £250K

Part of the Body Minimum Award Maximum Award

  • Chest up to £2,900
    with 10% uplift £3,190 £74,000 – £110,300
    with 10% uplift £81,400 – £121,330
  • Lung Disease £1,620 – £3,900
    with 10% uplift £1,782 – £4,290 £74,000 – £100,000
    with 10% uplift £81,400 – £110,000
  • Asbestos Related Disease £11,100 – £28,250
    with 10% uplift £12,210 – £31,075 £51,500 – £92,500
    with 10% uplift £56,650 – £101,750
  • Asthma up to £3,800
    with 10% uplift up to £4,180 £31,650 – £48,250
    with 10% uplift £34,815 – £53,075
  • Male Reproductive System in region of £4,900
    with 10% uplift £5,390 in excess of £113,000
    with 10% uplift £124,300
  • Female Reproductive System in region of £7,500
    with 10% uplift £8,250 £84,500 – £124,500
    with 10% uplift £92,950 – £136,950
  • Digestive System £670 – £2,900
    with 10% uplift £737 – £3,190 £31,600 – £45,500
    with 10% uplift £34,760 – £50,050
  • Kidney £22,600 – £33,000
    with 10% uplift £24,860 – £36,300 £124,500 – £154,500
    with 10% uplift £136,950 – £169,950
  • Bowels £9,250 – £18,000
    with 10% uplift £10,175 – £19,800 up to £110,300
    with 10% uplift £121,330
  • Bladder £17,200 – £23,000
    with 10% uplift £18,920 – £25,300 up to £103,250
    with 10% uplift £113,575
  • Spleen £3,200 – £6,350
    with 10% uplift £3,520 – £6,985 £15,300 – £19,300
    with 10% uplift £16,830 – £21,230
  • Hernia £2,500 – £5,300
    with 10% uplift £2,750 – £5,830 £11,000 – £17,750
    with 10% uplift £12,100 – £19,525

Dental Injury Claims

Dental injuries are also considered in personal and accident injury claims. Amounts can vary depending on which teeth are affected and how severely they are affected. Reduced ability to chew, eat, or talk, will generally increase the compensation amount. If several front teeth have been lost or seriously damaged one can estimate £6,400 – £8,400 with 10% uplift £7,040 – £9.240, compared to the loss of or damage to one front tooth at £1,620 – £2,900 with 10% uplift £1,782- £3,190.

Psychological Damage Claims

Psychological claims can be harder to prove and win. However, there are valid reasons for seeking such a claim. Accidents can cause serious mental illness, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and general anxiety. For a general sever psychiatric damage claim one can expect about £40,300 – £85,000 with 10% uplift £44,330 – £93,500. Where there is a long term inability to cope with work and life and a future vulnerability to not as severe the estimates are £1,125 – £4,300 with 10% uplift £1,238 – £4,730.

For PTSD, the event must be markedly distressing to someone of the general population. Compensation for severe PTSD is in the range of £44,000 – £74,000 with 10% uplift £48,400 – £81,400. However, where there the person is not functioning at or near the pre-trauma level to less severe, the compensation estimate is £2,900 – £6,000 with 10% uplift £3,190 – £6,600.

Chronic Pain

Many personal accident and injury claims also involve chronic pain. This can be from a car accident, a slip and fall, or a variety of other injuries from accidents. Compensation for these types of claims is based on the impact of the chronic pain on the victim’s life and the condition’s prognosis.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, can range from severe, in which case the person’s ability to work is affected and they will need care and co-existing psychological problems may be present, (£38,600 to £61,750 with 10% uplift £42,460 – £67,925) to moderate where significant effects will be experienced for a long time, but there will be improvement in the future (£20,600 – £38,600 with 10% uplift £22,660 – £42,460).

Other Pain Disorders range from severe, in which case even with treatment, symptoms will persist impacting on work and result in the need for care (£31,000 – £46,300 with 10% uplift £34,100 to £50,930) to moderate (£15,500 – £28,300 with 10% uplift £17,050 – £31,130) where near or full recovery has or is expected to be made.

Paralysis Claims Compensation Amounts

Paralysis compensation amounts can vary dependent upon residual movement, age, life expectancy, depression, and the presence of pain.

Tetraplegia (also known as Quadriplegia)

The award range is £238,500 – £297,000 with 10% uplift £262,350 – £326,700.

Paraplegia

The award range is £161,000 – £209,000 with 10% uplift £177,100 – £229,900

Burns and Scarring

Severe burns and scarring are another reason many victims pursue an injury claim. Claim amounts will differ between males and females and the parts of the body that were scared or burned. A very severe facial scarring injury case for a female can command as much as £35,600 – £71,500 with 10% uplift £39,160 – £78,650, whereas a more minor facial burn or scarring case will get around £1,250 – £2,600 with 10% uplift £1,375 – £2,860. In males, very severe facial scarring or burning estimates are £21,900 – £48,250 with 10% uplift £24,090 – £53,075. Minor facial scarring or burns in males can get around £1,250 – £2,600 with 10% uplift £1,375 – £2,860. For other body parts, an estimate is more difficult to give, as there is no fixed scale for awards for these types of injuries. In cases where burns cover more than 40 percent of the body, or there is a single disfiguring scar, or many noticeable laceration scars the compensation amounts can range from £5,500 – £77,000 with 10% uplift £6,050 – £84,700.

Loss of Sight, Taste, Smell, or Hearing

Our senses are an important part of our body and help us experience life. That is why for cases where any of the senses have been lost, larger compensation can be awarded. For loss of sight and hearing an amount of £297,000 with 10% uplift in the region of £326,700 has been awarded. With an award of £197,000 with 10% uplift in the region of £217,250 just for total loss of sight. Loss of sight in one eye with reduced vision in the good eye can get compensation of up to £47,000 to £132,000 with 10% uplift £51,700 – £145,200. Amounts can be more, depending on the risk to the eye that still has vision or any additional vision problems experienced, such as double vision.

In accidents where an eye has been completely lost, compensation amounts can be around £40,300 to £48,200 with 10% uplift £44,330 – £53,020. However, sight is lost in just one eye the award level reduces to £36,200 to £40,300 with 10% uplift £39,820 – £44,330. Permanent, but not complete, loss of sight in one eye the awards range from £6,700 – £28,750 with 10% uplift £7,370 – £31,625 depending on the extent of the damage. Minor eye injuries, such as been exposed to smoke, splashed in the eye or struck in the eye, where recovery is likely, have been known to command awards in the amounts of £1,620 to £6,400 with 10% uplift £1,782 – £7,040.

Hearing loss

Total hearing loss, also known as deafness, and loss of speech can result in an award estimation of £80,600 to £103,250 with 10% uplift £88,660 – £113,575. For total loss of hearing in one ear only, the award range is £23,000 to £33,500 with 10% uplift £25,300 – £36,850. Partial hearing loss is sometimes referred to as Tinnitus. Tinnitus is usually related to exposure to noise over a period of time. Awards for Tinnitus range from £5,150 to £9,250 with 10% uplift £5,665 – £10,175 for minor damage, through to £21,800 to £33,500 with 10% uplift £23,980 – £26,850 for severe Tinnitus.

Taste and Smell

Injuries that affect your ability to smell and taste can result in compensation in the amounts of £14,100 to £18,350 with 10% uplift £15,510 – £20,185, for just loss of taste, to in the region of £28,750 with 10% uplift £31,625 for a total loss of taste and smell.

The Downside of Pursuing an Injury Claim

Personal injury claims are valid and legal ways for injured victims to have justice. They provide compensation for pain and suffering that victims have face, or will continue to face. They help compensate them for lost wages and medical bills they have had to pay in relation to the accident or injury. Our legal system allows for these suits to help make a bad and unfair situation right.

However, there are some downsides to these types of claims. Going through this legal process is not a quick fix. For many victims, it can take months, or even years, to get their claims resolved. Some may never get the justice that they seek. Some may get no compensation at all, and others may only get a small amount, perhaps not enough to even cover their medical expenses or lost wages.

Depending on the type of claim you are filing, you may be required to submit medical records, counceling records, and even employment records. Although these are necessary to prove some claims, it can make this process very embarrassing and personal to have these types of details revealed to your solicitor, the defendant, their lawyer, a judge, insurance companies, and anyone else involved in your claim.

For some victims, they may not only lose their case, but they may end up owing money to their solicitor or the defendant after their claim is over. All of these downsides should be considered, and even discussed with your solicitor, before the personal injury claims process has begun.

Personal injury protocol can be quite confusing and complicated. From the time of the accident until even after the claim is settled and monies are received, there can be lots of unanswered questions, or even questions that the claimant never even thought to ask. Doing your own research and trusting your solicitor at every part in the personal injury claims process will help your claim.

Every personal injury case is unique and comes with its own set of challenges and positive aspects. Even to your solicitor, who is fully aware of the personal injury protocol and law, it can be difficult to determine just how a claim will go, at any point during the legal process of an injury claim. Proving a case and getting proper and fair compensation can be a lengthy and complex job. Making sure you hire an experienced and dedicated solicitor can help improve your chances of fair compensation.