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Personal Injury Claims

How To Claim Compensation For Personal Injury

In this guide:

Claiming compensation following a personal injury can be a daunting prospect. But we’re here to help you navigate the claims process and secure the compensation you deserve. Our personal injury guide deals with some of the common questions our lawyers hear.

What Is A Personal Injury?

“Personal injury” is the legal term for an injury or illness that has been caused by someone else’s negligence. In these circumstances, it may be possible to claim compensation from those responsible.

Personal injuries can be caused in a range of situations, including:

  • Medical negligence
  • Road traffic accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • On holiday or while abroad
  • Exposure to harmful substances at work, such as asbestos
  • Criminal injury
  • Abuse
  • Military accidents
  • Defective products

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What Are The Time Limits For Making A Personal Injury Claim?

The standard time limit for claiming compensation for a personal injury is three years.

The three year limit applies either from:

  • The date of the incident which caused your injury or illness
  • The date you became aware of an illness which was caused by your work (illnesses caused by exposure to asbestos for instance can take decades to develop)
  • The date you found out the cause of your loved one’s death

However, there are exceptions to the standard time limit:

  • Children – you can claim at any point up until the child’s 21st birthday for an injury that occurred before they turned 18
  • Those who lack mental capacity – there is no time limit
  • Accidents or illnesses abroad – time limits in foreign countries can be shorter
  • Criminal Injury – claims made through the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (CICA) need to be brought within two years
  • Defective products – in addition to the standard three year limit, claims involving defective products must be made within 10 years of the product going into circulation

No matter how your injury occurred, we recommend you get in touch with us as soon as possible, so we can start to investigate your claim.

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The Personal Injury Claims Process

Personal injury claims tend to broadly follow the same five steps:

  1. Free Initial Consultation
    We’ll discuss the details of your case and best way to take your claim forward. This initial consultation is free and confidential.
  2. Determining Responsibility
    We’ll then work out who was at fault for your injuries or illness. If this isn’t obvious we have an experienced team of investigators to assist. Once we know who is responsible, we’ll contact them to see if they accept responsibility.
  3. Understanding Your Needs
    We’ll look at the exact nature and impact of your injury, using medical experts as necessary. From this we’ll calculate the amount of compensation we think you’ll need.
  4. Rehabilitation
    With serious injury claims, we’ll look to secure “interim” compensation payments – this is compensation that’s paid in advance of your final settlement to cover any immediate needs you have. We also have a specialist team to help you access the very best rehabilitation and support.
  5. Final Compensation Settlement
    Most claims we deal with get settled out of court. However, sometimes the responsible party doesn’t accept the blame or doesn’t agree with the amount of compensation we feel you need. In these circumstances we’ll start court proceedings. If your claim needs to be decided at court, we’ll be there to help you every step of the way, talking you through what will happen so you feel as comfortable as possible.

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How Much Compensation Can You Claim?

There’s no such thing as an average personal injury claim. The consequences of the same type of injury aren’t the same for any two people so the compensation awarded will be different and tailored to your specific needs.

There are two parts to a personal injury compensation settlement:

  1. General Damages – to compensate you for your injury and for your pain and suffering
  2. Special Damages – to compensate you for any expenses you’ve incurred, loss of earnings, and your future care needs

Therefore it’s clearly difficult to generalise how much compensation you could claim, without knowing your personal circumstances. This is the value of an experienced personal injury solicitor, who can value your claim accurately in order to get you the compensation you deserve.

A number of factors can influence how much compensation you’re awarded, including:

  • The severity of your injury/illness
  • Expenses that you’ve incurred
  • Loss of earnings
  • Future care needs
  • Rehabilitation, therapy and support
  • Household adaptations
  • Whether you contributed to your injuries in some way (for example, by not wearing your seatbelt and suffering injuries in a road traffic accident)

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How Long Does A Claim Take?

It’s difficult to give a precise amount of time when it comes to settling a personal injury claim. How long claims take depends on the following factors:

  • The severity of your injury or illness
  • Whether responsibility for your injury is admitted
  • The complexity of injury
  • How long it takes to collect evidence

When calculating your compensation, we need to understand the long term impact your injury will have on your life. This is important as if we calculate or settle your claim too early, it could mean that you receive less compensation than you’re entitled to.

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How Can I Fund My Personal Injury Claim?

There are three ways of funding your personal injury claim:

  1. No Win No Fee agreements
  2. Legal Expenses Insurance – you may have this as part of a home insurance policy or if you are a member of a trade union
  3. Legal Aid – for certain types of birth injury claims

The vast majority of the claims we handle are funded by a No Win No Fee agreement. This means that you’ll pay no upfront costs, and nothing if your case is unsuccessful*.

More information on funding your personal injury claim.

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Useful Links

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All Scottish cases will be handled by the Scottish law firm with which we are associated, Irwin Mitchell Scotland LLP. The law relating to funding is different in Scotland and you will receive separate advice about what that means as well as a separate funding agreement.

* Subject to entering into a No Win No Fee agreement in conjunction with our Allianz Litigate insurance policy and complying with your responsibilities under its terms.

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