Making a Personal Injury Claim
With the advent of ‘no win no fee’ compensation arrangements, and the ever-increasing availability of so-called claims management companies, the process of making a compensation claim regarding a personal injury has apparently never been so accessible.
However, as much as these companies’ advertising may lead you to believe that your claim is all but guaranteed to succeed, there are a number of factors that you must consider in order to maximise the chances of winning your claim.
Do You Have a Claim?Perhaps the most important piece of advice that can be given regarding personal injury claims concerns when an individual should and should not pursue such a claim. Talk of the ‘compensation culture’ has led many to believe that compensation will be granted for virtually anything; this is not the case.
It is vital that claims are only made when there is a genuine complaint against a third party, and when you are convinced that the third party is negligent. If your own actions were the primary cause of the accident then it is highly unlikely that your claim will be upheld – and nor should it be, as the success of spurious claims such as these causes a loss of faith in the process as a whole.
Documentary EvidenceIf you are confident that you have a valid claim, preparation is key if you are to win your case. In the first instance, you will almost certainly require verifiable documentary evidence regarding the injuries that you have suffered. This can be easily obtained from your GP or another relevant medical professional.
This evidence is also likely to help ensure that any eventual compensation award is commensurate with the impact that the injuries have had on your day-to-day life. If, for example, your injuries have caused you to miss work, you should also obtain a signed declaration to this effect from your employer.
If at all possible, you should also enlist the help of any witnesses to the accident. First-hand evidence can be vital in proving the negligence of the defendant. Of course, in the immediate aftermath of an accident it is unlikely that gathering the contact details of witnesses will be at the forefront of the victim’s mind. However, the chances of your case succeeding will be significantly improved if you can provide eyewitness testimony.
Claims CompaniesAnother key piece of advice in any compensation regards third party assistance. If you choose to use a claims management company or claims assessor, it is vitally important that you ensure they are reputable and registered with the government’s regulation scheme.
Furthermore, you should always investigate the payment terms; if your case fails you will be liable for the defendant’s costs. Some claims management companies are less than scrupulous in their business practices, particularly concerning their insistence that clients should take out insurance policies to cover them against the costs of failure.
As a result, you should ensure that you know exactly what you may have to pay before you begin. Further information on this side of the compensation process is available in articles elsewhere on this site.