The last decade has witnessed a boom in personal injury claims, particularly in those areas such as road traffic accidents, and work-related accidents. Whiplash injury claims have soared, with many labelling this new era as the ‘compensation culture’.
Although it is actually relatively simple to pursue a personal injury claim, the perceived complexity of such claims has led to a burst in claims management companies (CMCs).
Those that are thinking of using these companies should be wary of whether they are actually getting professional advice – many use ‘claims specialists’ rather than actual solicitors – and so advice can sometimes be diluted, or not be as professional as one might expect.
Problem #1: Time Delays between the Accident and the Claim
One of the biggest problems with personal claims is the time delay between the accident and the beginning of the case. Most of these claims are based on the negligence of the defendant, and so need to be pursued within 3 years from the date the injured party becomes aware of the fact that they have suffered an injury. Note that the time limit does not begin from the date of the accident, but from the date at which the claimant realises their injury.
Any claims which are pursued after this period are normally held to be invalid, as too much time has elapsed.
Problem #2: Obtaining Evidence for the Injury
One of the main reasons personal injury claims can fail is because there is a lack of evidence in proving the injury, or that the injury was a result of the defendant’s negligence. Not only will the injured party need to prove the existence of their injury, but they will also need to demonstrate the impact this has on their day-to-day life.
In order to demonstrate these things, it would be extremely beneficial if you had testimonies from eye-witnesses. In order to be able to obtain this sort of information, you would need to have taken down their details on the date of the accident. Although for most people, when the accident occurs they are more concerned with getting checked out by an ambulance and calling the police, it is imperative to also make sure that you look for any people on the street who might have witnessed the accident as well, so you can take down their details there and then. Obviously if you are injured it is better to get checked out before you begin looking for witnesses.
If you need to prove that the injury has affected your everyday life, you may need to gain medical advice, or a medical expert’s testimony to evidence your injury. If some of the damages you are seeking are due to lost earnings, the court may require that you have documentary evidence from your employer to prove your lost earnings.
Problem #3: Economic Issues
A third area where issues can arise concerning the pursuit of a personal injury claim is the economic strain it may place on your finances. In circumstances where the defendant denies that he has been negligent, and therefore not liable for your injuries, the claim will have to proceed to court, which can be very expensive. In cases like this, legal costs and fees can rack up quickly.
In order to avoid the legal costs associated with pursuing a claim, it is important you are aware of the different financial schemes that are available to help with such costs. Many solicitors offer services on a ‘no-win-no-fee’ basis, which provides peace of mind that should you lose the case, you will not need to pay the legal fees. Another option may be to see a solicitor who deals in publicly funded work (which used to be known as ‘legal aid’).