This month marks the anniversary of a few historical road casualties, including most famously the tragic death of Princess Diana in 1997. That is why August is National Road Victim Month, a time when national charity, Road Peace, raise awareness and remember those who have been killed or injured in road accidents.
Road traffic accidents are often traumatic and life-changing events that can affect family and loved ones as well as those injured. We have written a guide to help you understand what is involved in making a personal injury claim to help you access proper support, should you be affected by an accident.
What is a Personal Injury claim?
A personal injury claim is made when you try to recover compensation from a person or organisation because their carelessness caused you a physical/ psychological injury or illness.
Common Injuries caused by Road Traffic Accidents
The extent of injuries which can be claimed for is vast, but typical injuries include:
- Sensory loss
- Organ Damage
- Soft tissue injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Loss of limbs
- Spinal injuries
How to make a Personal Injury Claim
The first step is to contact a solicitor to arrange an initial meeting. This will help to determine whether you have a viable claim. You should be prepared to explain how the accident and injury occurred and who may be responsible.
It may be helpful if you can bring the following documents:
- Police Report
- Medical/Hospital Records
- Any witness evidence
- Employer’s Accident report or record
Once a claim is established, the seriousness of the injury needs to be considered. The solicitor will need to access your medical records and arrange for you to be assessed by one or more medical experts, depending on the injuries. The experts will provide a report on the nature and extent of your injury and any likely future effects, treatment or rehabilitation which may be required.
Compensation will then be assessed on the following factors:
- The seriousness of the injury, including pain, suffering and loss of amenity (known as ‘general damages’)
- Loss of earnings or income as a result of the injury, including future losses
- Any other costs, losses or expenses incurred, for example travel expenses to hospital for treatment
- Any future costs in relation to effects of the injury, including rehabilitation, support and therapy
Compensation is usually based on medical and other expert assessment of the above factors regarding the best possible recovery for the injured party. The purpose of compensation is to try, so far as possible, to put you in the same situation you would have been in had the accident not occurred.
After a figure has been calculated, parties will usually negotiate and a settlement will often be reached. However, if the parties cannot agree the Court will become involved and supervise the process. If a figure is still not agreed then the Court will appoint a judge to decide what compensation, if any, is payable.
What proof is required for a successful claim?
The injury must be proven to have been partially or totally caused by another person. A solicitor will be able to assist you with the evidence required. Where appropriate, medical evidence will need to be obtained in relation to the injury sustained.
A claim should be brought at the earliest opportunity and certainly within 3 years of the accident, or 3 years from your ‘date of knowledge’ that you had suffered a significant injury due to the fault of another.