A guide to making a personal injury claim

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Every year, more than three million people are injured in accidents at work, on the road or at home in the UK. When the fault lies with someone or something else, accident victims have a right to be compensated and many make personal injury claims.

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Making a personal injury claim can be straightforward with the assistance of a solicitor. Most solicitors will offer a free consultation to assess whether the claim you are considering making is justifiable.

The importance of making a claim with the help of proper legal advice has recently been publicised through a new campaign delivered by The Law Society called ‘Don’t Get Mugged’. More information can be found about the campaign on the Blaser Mills website: http://www.blasermills.co.uk/personal-injury/personal-injury-the-campaign/. The aim is to make people aware that they don’t have to accept the first compensation offer they receive. Taking advice from a solicitor means you will get quality advice and a potentially better deal.

On the whole, the campaign has been welcomed by legal professionals. You can find out more about what the campaign means for you and your personal injury claim on the Law Society website: http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/dontgetmugged/. If you’re new to making a personal injury claim, here’s our straightforward guide.

The information a solicitor will need

A solicitor will need to know the date and circumstances of the accident. They will need to know what injuries you suffered, the medical treatment and diagnosis you have received. They will also need contact details for witnesses. If you are a trade union member, don’t forget to tell the solicitor this as it may mean that you can benefit from reduced costs for legal representation.

You may also need to provide proof of any financial expenses relating to your injury and any loss of earnings. If you have a home or motor insurance policy that includes legal expenses cover, you will need to produce these documents.

How a solicitor can help

When you explain the details around the injury to a solicitor, they will be able to inform you how likely you are to have a successful case and how much you could be eligible to claim in compensation. A solicitor will also explain the steps in the legal processes in making a personal injury claim and discuss with you how you plan to cover the costs involved.

At the end of the consultation, ask the solicitor to confirm what you have discussed in writing. The letter should state if the solicitor is willing to take on your case, the main point of contact for you at the solicitor’s office, and how you will be updated on progress of your claim. It will also detail an estimate of costs and any agreed spending limits.

Making the claim

The solicitor will write to the defendant explaining the injury you have suffered and how it happened. You may need to have an expert opinion to support your claim – if so, the solicitor will direct you to a relevant specialist.

The defendant then has a time period in which to respond. If they accept liability, the claim is likely to be settled out of court. The solicitor will advise you of the value of your claim and will find out what level of compensation you would be willing to accept. On this basis, the solicitor could make an ‘offer to settle’ for that amount. If a defendant agrees on the figure suggested, the claim can be settled without needing to go to court.

If the defendant denies liability, your solicitor may advise that you begin legal action, taking the claim to court and asking the court to award you compensation. The case will then be handled by a judge who will set a date for the hearing and your solicitor will guide you through the process. You will then need to wait to find out the judgement, to find out if you have won your case and what amount you have been awarded.

Making a personal injury claim may seem daunting, but if you meet with a solicitor for an initial consultation, the whole process will be explained to you, and then you can decide whether to proceed with a claim or not.

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