Problems with Personal Injury Claims
The process of making a compensation claim for a personal injury has been designed to be as simple as possible, but it can still appear difficult to the layman. This perceived complexity has contributed to the rise in prominence of ‘claims management companies’, the function of which is investigated in more detail elsewhere on this site. Whether or not you use such a company, it is useful to understand some of the common pitfalls encountered by those wishing to make a compensation claim for a personal injury.
One of the most frequent problems with personal injury claims concerns the time elapsed between the event in question and the commencement of legal action against the defendant. In most cases claims are made based on the alleged negligence of a specific party. In these cases, court proceedings must begin within a maximum of three years from the date of the complainant’s awareness of their injury. Generally, legal action that is begun after this period has elapsed will be invalid. As a result, it is important that you check with a solicitor, or other experienced legal professional, how long the law allows you to make a claim in your specific circumstances.
Another common problem that can blight the process of claiming is a lack of evidence to support the claim being made by the complainant. The evidence that is likely to be required will concern not only the injury itself but also the effects of the injury on your day-to-day life. In the first instance, you will need to be able to provide evidence to support your claim that the defendant was liable for your injury, generally through negligence or breach of duty. Supporting evidence of this type might include testimony from witnesses and, as a result, it is important that contact details are acquired from such individuals at the time of the incident. Frequently claims fail because the complainant cannot provide testimony from witnesses. Similarly, if your claim is based in part on the fact that the injury has had an effect on your life (through, for example, lost earnings as a result of an inability to continue your job, or unusual medical bills incurred as a result of your injury), you will need to provide documentary evidence to support these claims. In the majority of cases a signed letter from a GP or similar medical practitioner will suffice to demonstrate the extent of your injuries. With regard to lost earnings or a necessity to alter working patterns, the courts will generally require a signed report from your employer.
Another area in which problems can arise with personal injury claims is the financial implications of making a complaint. This can be an expensive option, particularly if the defendant denies that they are legally responsible and the case goes to court. In these instances, many potential claimants back out because of the associated legal costs. However, it should be remembered that there are a number of schemes to help individuals bear these costs. Primarily, you should consider using the services of a solicitor who takes on publicly funded work; this was previously known as ‘legal aid’. Alternatively you may consider a ‘conditional fee arrangement’, commonly known as ‘no win no fee’. These are explained in more detail elsewhere on this site.