Personal Injury Compensation Guide. Winston Solicitors LLP

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1 Personal Injury Compensation Guide Winston Solicitors LLP

2 Compensation guide Here we provide a simple, plain speaking guide to no win no fee compensation claims for personal injuries in the UK. If you have been injured and wish to make a claim then this document will make essential reading. If you wish to make an enquiry about your own case please contact us today. Law Society Accredited Solicitors & members of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers The accident Most claims for injury inevitably revolve around accidents. Without stating the obvious there are many different types of accident but regardless of how a person came to be injured you can only claim compensation if someone else (or a company, organisation etc) was to blame for your injuries. It is of course possible that your own injures were not accident related but due to other causes ie Industrial disease etc. Who is to blame? You will most commonly hear the term Negligence used to describe blame following an accident. In real terms negligence can be defined as The failure to use the reasonable care that a prudent person would have used under the same or similar circumstances. If you feel that your injuries were caused by or contributed to by another person, company or organisation then you may be able to make a claim. If on the other hand you fall over in your back garden playing football with the kids, there will be almost certainly no possibility of a claim. CLAIMSCONNECTION: Personal injury compensation guide 1

3 Pain and suffering In order to claim for personal injuries there has to have been a clear demonstrable injury that preferably has been subject to medical treatment of some kind. If you heal very quickly (within days) then it will not be possible to instruct a solicitor to represent you because legal costs cannot be recovered. However this does not preclude you from claiming from the negligent party personally. If a period of pain and suffering extends beyond a few weeks then generally speaking you can and should pursue your case. Compensation Most people are critical of others who make claims for compensation. They are considered to be out for a fast buck. The alleged compensation culture has fed this misconception and helped to put off many deserving accident victims. Yes there is a monetary award to gain and yes this may motivate some people to make their claim. However the vast majority of people that we deal with are genuine victims who have every right to compensation and of equal importance they can also obtain vital treatment (physiotherapy etc) that they may not otherwise have access to. Don t lose out on your compensation because you hear others complain or put you off you are the injured party, not them. Don t worry about paying legal fees because most solicitors work on a No win no fee basis where win or lose the claimant pays nothing. Don t be the victim twice over! CLAIMSCONNECTION: Personal injury compensation guide 2

4 The vital questions answered Now that you ve considered the above points, we can deal with the key questions that people ask before deciding whether or not to pursue a claim. 1. Do I need a solicitor? 2. Can I afford a solicitor? 3. Can I be bothered with all the hassle? 4. How long do I have to claim? 5. Will I have to go to Court? 6. How long do claims generally take to settle? 7. What if I am partly at fault for the accident? 8. What things can I actually claim for? 9. What amount of compensation will I receive? 10. How do I start my claim? CLAIMSCONNECTION: Personal injury compensation guide 3

5 1. Do I need a solicitor? No. You can make a claim directly with an insurer however we would strongly advise against doing so. Whilst you would expect us to make such a statement, it is simply not in your interests to approach an insurer direct in the majority of personal injury cases. Most insurers will attempt to get rid of your claim as quickly and as cheaply as possible. Their staff are not employed to hand out cheques, they are there to save the insurer money. Whiplash claims can be particularly easy for insurers to settle and many will be ruthless in "managing" your claim A solicitor can be instructed on No win no fee (see can I afford a solicitor) and you can be certain that the outcome of your claim will be satisfactory. 2. Can I afford a solicitor? Like most law firms we work on a No win no fee basis. This means that if we lose the case we do not charge you regardless of how much work has been done on the case. If we are successful in claiming on your behalf then our costs will be met by the insurers for the negligent party. They are duty bound to meet the costs of pursuing a justified claim against one of their policyholders. So in summary YES you certainly can afford a solicitor. Call us now on to discuss your case. 3. Can I be bothered with all the hassle? It is true to say that there is some initial inconvenience when you make a claim. But there is far less hassle than most people actually believe. With our service you simply complete an application form to get the claim started. We then explain the no win no fee agreement to you (if this is applicable) and following the signing of the documents, commence your case. In the majority of cases you are asked to visit a local medical doctor who will assess your injuries and report back to both your solicitors and the insurers for the liable party. This report will form the basis for any compensation that is agreed. The medical assessment usually takes around 15 minutes. Hassle wise that really is it. CLAIMSCONNECTION: Personal injury compensation guide 4

6 4. How long do I have to claim? The law requires in the form of the limitation act that a personal injury claim must either be resolved within 3 years from the date of injury, or that proceedings have commenced at Court within that time period. There are very few exceptions to this rule. Most claims are concluded within 9-12 months and only a very small proportion will ever make it to court (see below) 5. Will I have to go to Court? It is very unlikely that you will ever have to go to court to settle your case. Fewer than 2 or 3 % of claims will require a trial. It is not in the insurers interests to settle compensation in court because this means they are liable for legal costs on both sides. The vast majority of claims for personal injury are settled outside of the court process with legal action rarely being required. 6. How long do claims generally take to settle? This can depend on the injury sustained and whether liability is in dispute. Most claims for soft tissue injuries settle within 8-12 months. 7. What if I am partly at fault for the accident? You can still claim if you were partly responsible for an event occurring. You may be guilty of contributory negligence whereby you contributed to the event but if there were other factors that may be considered primary causes (such as the negligence of another person, company, organisation etc) then you should still be able to pursue your case. 8. What things can I actually claim for? There are two main types of claim award in personal injury matters. General Damages: An award for pain & suffering including loss of amenity. This award compensates you for the suffering you have encountered usually in its physical form e.g. whiplash, broken leg, strained muscles etc but can include psychological injuries. CLAIMSCONNECTION: Personal injury compensation guide 5

7 Special Damages: These damages relate to out of pocket expenses (past or future) including but not limited to - loss of earnings (also bonuses or overtime) car hire expenses, care and services, extra expenses ie; travel costs incurred going to doctors, hospitals, etc, damaged clothing, prescription charged etc. 9. What amount of compensation will I receive? This question cannot be answered with any real certainty because each and every case is different. To generalise most soft tissue injuries will heal within 12 months and such a claim would mean around 2000 would be paid in compensation. More info on injury claim valuations can be found here. See our appendix below on compensation amounts. 10. How do I start my claim? That s the easy part! There is a huge amount of information available on the web regarding accident claims and in addition you have the benefit of being able to contact dozens of law firms to seek advice from. As far as we are concerned you need look no further we are a firm of compensation solicitors who can help you with any type of personal injury enquiry. Call us today on CLAIMSCONNECTION: Personal injury compensation guide 6

8 How is compensation calculated? Assuming that liability has been admitted, there are two types of awards that can be claimed in a personal injury case. The first of these is known as General Damages. This award relates to compensation for the pain and suffering that the injured person has sustained as a result of the accident. The award is calculated by assessing the available medical evidence and by reviewing caselaw where awards have been made for similar injuries to people in the past. There is no street value for general damages as such because every person is different and therefore so is the injury and the capacity for recovery. Generally though, most insurers and lawyers know how to quantify compensation based on available evidence and their experience. The second award type is known as Special Damages. This is an award of compensation for financial losses sustained as a result of the accident. The basic idea being that you are able to claim for anything that you have had to pay for which you would not normally have paid for if it had not been for the accident. You can also claim back losses that arise from the event (accident) or subsequent injury. A good example of this would be going to the doctor after the accident or making trips for physiotherapy treatment. If it had not been for the accident you would never have made the trip and so you would be able to claim for any travelling expenses incurred. Likewise if you cannot work and cannot earn because you are injured, then you will potentially suffer a financial loss which would be recoverable from the liable party. The financial losses themselves may be placed under several different headings as below; Loss of Earnings; Medical Expenses; Expenses relating to the cost of living with the injuries; Specific items of loss; Cost of services provided. CLAIMSCONNECTION: Personal injury compensation guide 7

9 Although, it should be noted that in order for the injured person to be able to prove the financial loss they should retain documentary evidence as much as possible. When the injured person has been involved in an accident there are various other losses that they may wish to claim for under the heading of a financial losses claim. These may include; Cost of repairs to the vehicle concerned, whether this is a motorcycle, car or bicycle; Policy excess if the vehicle was comprehensively insured. This applies whether or not the vehicle is classed as an insurance write-off after the accident; Hire car charges; Fares for public transport; Damage to clothing, footwear or glasses; Taxi fares; Prescription charges; Recovery or storage charges relating to the vehicle concerned; Items that were in the vehicle that were damaged as a result of the accident; Loss of use and inconvenience of not having a vehicle; Physiotherapy and Chiropractor treatment; Lost earnings, commission or bonuses. CLAIMSCONNECTION: Personal injury compensation guide 8

10 So how much is your claim worth? Most good accident lawyers will give you an indication of likely damages awards based on the above criteria. It is impossible for any remote valuation to be given without access to the medical reports and detailed analysis of the claimant s history, lifestyle, occupation and capacity to recover. When you view the so called compensation calculators you are really only getting a snapshot of potential valuation brackets and with such variable sums, the figures become rather meaningless. As an independent law firm who may know nothing about you or your case we cannot accurately make compensation calculations as such but what we can do is set out what likely awards might be achievable given a certain injury type and a certain outcome recovery wise. These figures are based on our experience and on specialised research using the available data tools that lawyers have access to. We use for example Kemp & Kemp The Quantum of Damages and the Judicial Studies Board (JSB) Guidelines, both well known resources. Please see our compensation matrix overleaf for more information about what compensation award you might expect for a specific personal injury. Please note that this matrix is not a definitive guide to damages, not all conditions / injuries are covered and it is not intended to replace proper legal advice. You should always seek formal legal advice on your case before committing to any settlement. We would be happy to advise you on your compensation case if you are currently un-represented. Please call and ask to speak to a personal injury lawyer. We can speak informally until you make a decision about representation. CLAIMSCONNECTION: Personal injury compensation guide 9

11 Compensation amounts Upper body Body area Injury type Severe Moderate Minor Neck Neck injuries 8,750-16,000 5,000-8, ,750 Most cases fall into this bracket Back Back injuries 24,750-44,500 17,750-24,750 Up to 5,000 Head Brain injury 180, ,750 27, ,000 9,875-27,500 Psychiatric PTSD 40,000-64,250 14,825-37,000 2,500-5,250 Face Fracture nose 6,000-10,000 4,000-6,000 1,600-4,000 Loss of teeth 5,500-7,250 2,800-5,500 1,250-2,800 Sight Blindness 172,500 total blindness 35,000 loss of one eye 8,000-13,000 Impaired vision Hearing Tinnitus 19,000-29,000 9,000-19,000 4,750-8,000 Upper torso Shoulder 12,250-30,750 5,000-8,000 2,500-5,000 soft tissue Shoulder 3,250-7,750 3,230-7,750 2,500-3,500 fractured clavicle Wrist fracture 8,000-15,000 5,000-8,000 2,500-5,000 Finger fracture 5,500-7,750 3,500-5,500 1,500-3,500 Lower body Body area Injury type Severe Moderate Minor Knee Ligament injury 9,000-17,000 9,300-16,880 3,000-9,300 Lower leg Fractured tibia 5,000-9,500 5,000-7,500 3,500-5,000 Fractured fibula 5,000-9,000 4,500-7,500 3,000-4,500 Ankle Fracture and 8,750-17,000 5,000-8,750 3,000-5,000 ligament injury Toe Fractured toe 6,000-8,750 5,000-6,000 1,500-5,000 Foot Fractured metatarsal 7,500-9,500 4,500-7,500 1,500-7,500 CLAIMSCONNECTION: Personal injury compensation guide 10

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