An introduction to serious injury claims
If you or a member of your family has sustained a serious accident or injury through no fault of your own or due to the negligence of another party, you may be entitled to compensation. This sort of injury is likely to be a life-changing experience and initially, a difficult and confusing time. Here, at Russell Worth Solicitors, we endeavour to use our specialist knowledge to advise and help you secure the maximum compensation possible, in the minimum amount of time, to aid your rehabilitation and recovery.
What is considered to be a ‘serious injury’?
There are many types of injuries that are classed as serious injuries by the law. By definition, a serious injury is severe enough to involve hospitalisation and could alter your life forever or at least for the foreseeable future.
As well as the physical consequences of the injury itself, a serious injury is likely to have emotional and psychological effects, particularly in the initial stages following the accident. Serious injuries may also involve financial hardship in the form of loss of income if you are unable to work; medical fees; and caring costs.
Types of serious injuries include:
• Loss of limbs.
• Brain injuries.
• Spinal injuries.
• Burns or scalds.
• Fatal injuries.
• Head injuries.
• Loss of sight.
• Back injuries.
Am I eligible to make a claim?
If you or a loved one are considering making a serious injury claim, one of the first considerations is to establish who was at fault. To build a strong case, it is essential to collect evidence that will prove the actions or negligence of another person or organisation contributed to your injury. This can be straightforward but occasionally, complications can arise, particularly if the other party disputes that they are to blame. This is why it is important to have professional advice from your solicitor, to guide you through what can be a complex process.
In addition, having specialist solicitors can be beneficial as in serious injury cases, the potential compensation or damages awarded could be very high; as a result, insurance companies are likely to do their utmost to prove that the injured person is responsible or partially responsible to their accident, thus reducing the compensation that may be paid out.
Another important factor to establish a solid case for compensation is proving that the serious injury you have sustained was a direct result of the action or inaction of the responsible party.
What do I need to do to make a claim?
Your solicitor will help to gather the evidence necessary to present your case. This can involve medical reports that confirm the extent of any injuries sustained; records of financial losses and other expenses incurred; and eye-witness reports.
It is also important to begin legal action within three years of the date your accident occurred or the date you first became aware of your serious injury. If you are looking into making a claim on behalf of someone who is under 18 or unable to manage their own affairs, the time limit rules are different – your solicitor will advise you of this in your initial consultation but in all cases, it is advisable to take action sooner rather than later.
What sort of compensation could I expect?
If your case is successful, you can expect to be compensated financially, potentially through a variety of awards. The first is known as ‘general damages’ and the exact amount will depend on the extent of the injuries sustained and the impact that they have had and will have on your life. Factors such as the effects of your injury on the performance of day-to-day tasks, and any emotional or psychological trauma you may have suffered will also be taken into consideration when the amount of general damages is decided.
Another type of award is ‘special damages’. This refers to compensation for financial losses as a result of injuries sustained. If you are unable to work due to physical, emotional or psychological reasons, you may be entitled to compensation for your loss of salary. Special damages can also cover medical costs and rehabilitation equipment as well as the cost of carers, whether professional or relatives.
It is also possible to receive awards for the financial losses which may occur in the future due to your injuries. This can include the loss of future earnings or pension rights; on-going medical or rehabilitation fees; the cost of adapted housing, transport or mobility aids; and the on-going support of carers.
Sometimes, if a case seems likely to take a longer period of time than anticipated, a partial award known as an Interim Payment can be supplied to aid people who are struggling financially as a result of their injury.
During the period of negotiation, you have the right to accept or reject offers that could be made. This is best discussed with your solicitor who will ensure you get the best possible advice to make a decision you are fully happy with. If, in the rare case that an agreement cannot be reached, the case may proceed to court,
In the case of a fatal accident involving the death of a loved one, you may be entitled to bereavement compensation – ask your solicitor for more details on this particular area of serious injury law.
What other support organisations are available?
The ultimate aim in securing compensation for your serious injury is to provide the opportunity for you to experience the best possible quality of life following your injury. Financial compensation can help with practical matters but it is also beneficial to contact support agencies in your local area.
For more information on specific types of serious injury, visit the websites of the relevant disability organisation listed below:
Brain and Spine Foundation
Changing Faces (for those that have experienced facial injuries)
Child Brain Injury Trust
Disabled Living Foundation (for information on adapted living equipment)
Royal National Institute for the Blind
Spinal Injuries Association