The term “personal injury claim” has become somewhat mainstream, especially in recent times. You’ve probably seen or heard the adverts on the television, the radio, the Internet and other advertising mediums, asking whether you have been injured in an accident and therefore require the services of a personal injury solicitor/ lawyer, but what exactly is a personal injury claim?
To put it simply, personal injury claims are designed to help you to get compensation after an accident which should help you to cope better with the effects of your accident. These effects could be physical, emotional or economic.
How does one define a personal injury?
A personal injury may be defined as a physical or psychological injury. A personal injury can also include some diseases or illnesses which might be contracted by a person because they have been exposed to that disease or illness, commonly through negligence or incompetence.
Personal injuries can be relatively minor but debilitating or they can be incredibly severe, and in extreme cases, fatal. Some examples of injuries which have resulted in previous personal injury claims include; injuries caused by tripping on uneven paving stones; injuries sustained in traffic accidents; injuries from faulty products; injuries in the workplace; psychological injuries associated with being the victim of crime; psychological illnesses caused by workplace harassment; illnesses caught because of incorrect medical procedures; and illnesses which are related to working with asbestos.
Claiming compensation for personal injuries
If you do decide that you want to make a claim for compensation, then there are several different options which are available to you here in the United Kingdom. If you have been a victim of crime, then you may seek to make a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority which you can start here. Alternatively, the courts may automatically award you compensation through a criminal compensation order, so long as they are aware of your personal injury during the sentencing of the perpetrator.
For other types of personal injury, such as those which have been sustained in the workplace or in a public place, you can seek to take legal action in a civil court. If you do this, you may wish to hire a personal injury solicitor to help you with the legal nuances involved with making a claim.
The option of “no win no fee” is also there and is designed to help those that may find it difficult to cover legal fees and so forth, and this option is looked at further down the page.
Another option is to discuss your case with a claims assessor. Although claims assessors are not necessarily fully qualified solicitors, they should have the knowledge and experience which is needed to help you to progress your claim.
How much compensation is awarded for personal injury claims?
This is always a common question so the following should help you somewhat. The amount of compensation which is awarded for personal injury claims will be dependent on a number of different factors. As part of your compensation, you may be awarded “general damages”, which are given based on the amount of pain and suffering which you experienced due to your injury and any loss of future earnings which you experienced as a result of your injury.
“Special Damages” may also be awarded for financial loss or damage caused to material goods as a result of the accident, such as damage to your motor vehicle or the clothing you were wearing at the time. The amount of compensation may be reduced by the courts if they decide that you were partially responsible for your accident.
The “No Win No Fee” option
If you are thinking about making a claim for compensation after an accident, then you may have seen companies advertising their services on a “no win, no fee” basis. These types of accident or personal injury claims were introduced to help people to get compensation without having to worry about where the money for the solicitors fees would could from if they did not win their case.
What does the term “no win, no fee” mean?
“No win, no fee” means that if your solicitor, law firm or claims advisor does not win your case for you, then you will not have to pay any legal fees for their services. It is important to understand however that some costs may still apply.
When a firm offers you a “no win no fee” arrangement, they are effectively taking on the risk associated with your case, meaning that you don’t have to. However, in return, you will be expected to pay a small additional “success fee” if you are successful in your claim. You should be aware as noted above that whilst this sort of agreement normally exempts you from paying your legal advisor’s fees in the event that the claim is unsuccessful, you may be liable for other costs, which might include expert witness charges, court costs and other miscellaneous expenses.
How do “no win, no fee” arrangements work?
In the first instance, you will need to explain your case to a professional, so that they will have the opportunity to evaluate whether you have a valid claim. In most circumstances, a solicitor/ lawyer will only take on a case on a “no win, no fee” basis, if they believe that it is highly likely that they will be successful. They are unlikely to take on “high-risk” cases, which they are more likely to lose, as these cases will have a greater chance of leaving them out of pocket. This consultation will also give them the opportunity to calculate how much your claim is likely to be worth.
If they decide that they are able to represent you on a “no win, no fee” basis, they will then discuss the details of the arrangement with you, and they should then give you a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) to sign, which formalises all of the details of the arrangement. It is important that you understand the agreement which you have made, so that you are aware of all of your rights and obligations. If you have any additional questions about the arrangement, your advisor or one of their assistants should be able to explain things to you.
As of April 2013, solicitors and claims advisors are able to set their success fees as anything up to 25% of the damages which are recovered. Therefore, the amount that you must give to your personal injury solicitors in the event of a successful claim can vary dramatically, depending on the value of your compensation. Other legal fees may be recovered from the defendant in successful cases.