In simple terms, any person who has been injured and believes that someone else is responsible for their injuries, can make a claim for compensation. The law is the same for adults and children, with the only difference being the length of time you get to make your claim. Children are allowed up until their 21st birthday to pursue a claim, whilst adults have 3 years.
The first question to ask is whether the accident which lead to the injuries was caused by negligence? Could the accident have been avoided by using better practices and did the 3rd party have every reasonable chance to foresee such an accident?
These are the main criteria you need to check to see if you can claim:
- Was the accident someone else’s fault?
- Do you know the identity of the liable party (business name and address etc)?
- If not, did you report the incident to the police or local authority?
- Have you sought medical treatment from your GP or hospital?
- If not, are your injuries still presenting symptoms that your GP can diagnose?
Ultimately, you’ll need to speak to a solicitor to confirm whether or not you are entitled to receive compensation for your injuries. They will assess the merits of your case and be able to tell you if claiming is in your best interest.
Valid work accident claims
Just having an accident at work is not enough to guarantee compensation. To make a valid claim, the injured employee must be able to demonstrate that the employer was liable and exposed the staff to risk of injury, rather than it being their own fault. For example:
- Did your employer give you the correct training?
- Were you given an induction to the workplace?
- Were you provided with personal safety and protective equipment to complete your job safely?
- Did your employer adequately maintain equipment and service machines?
- Were you advised how to report accidents and how to access the accident book?
- Did your employer ensure correct staffing levels and an adequate amount of first aid trained staff?
- Did your employer act upon reports of potential risks of danger to employees?
The above is just a guide and there could be many more ways in which an employer would be liable.
Valid road traffic accident claims
RTA claims can be made for a range of physical and psychological injuries, not just whiplash. And the cause of the accident need not be another vehicle, it could equally be a faulty traffic light or road surface. If the person who caused the accident is insured you can make a claim against the insurers, for hit and run or uninsured drivers the claim will be made against the Motor Insurance Bureau. If the accident was caused by the road surface itself, it may be possible to make a claim against the Highways Agency.
Valid slip, trip or fall claims
Slips, trips or falls can obviously take place anywhere, but to claim compensation you need to prove that responsibility for the accident lies with a third party rather than yourself. Shops, restaurants, libraries and business establishments, for example, all have a responsibility to ensure people’s safety. If they fail to do so and accidents occur as a result, they can be found to have been negligent and liable to compensate the injured party.
Clearly, if you slip and fall after mucking about, any injuries you have are going to be seen as being your own fault. You can’t claim personal injury compensation if an accident was caused by your own actions!
Reporting the accident
Another important factor in making a successful claim is reporting the details of your accident to the right people. If you’ve slipped on a wet floor in a private establishment (a business premises, a supermarket, a cinema, a restaurant etc) you must make every effort to ensure that the party responsible for running the premises is informed. Any employer or location open to the public should have an accident book and a way of recording incidents. By recording the incident, you are providing proof that you fell in their premises and that your injuries were caused on their patch.
Unless you are severely injured and incapacitated, you should report your accident and injuries immediately and ensure that they are noted in an accident book. If the third party tell you they don’t have an accident book, or won’t let you have access to it, there are things you can do.
Are your injuries serious enough?
It’s not enough to just be injured, the injury has to be severe enough to provide a sufficient level of quantum to enable the claim to be placed. Quantum is the posh Latin term for value of the claim used in the legal world. To ensure that the injury value is sufficient, it is usually the case that an injured client will need to have suffered from their injury for a period of at least a few weeks. Therefore, if you sprained your ankle mildly and recovered within a fortnight, you would struggle to bring a claim. But if you sprained your ankle badly, tearing the ligaments and spent 6 weeks on crutches and then had 5 physio sessions, your claim would easily pass the quantum test.
If you haven’t had medical treatment, it is likely that your injuries will not be seen as sufficiently serious to warrant a claim as medical evidence is needed to support your claim. If you have been suffering in silence and haven’t seen the GP, you still can. If the GP is happy to note that your injuries are consistent with those suffered in a slipping on a wet or dangerous floor surface, you can then prove your injuries and pursue a claim.
If all this seems a bit complicated, or you haven’t done any of the above, don’t worry – if you contact us we can talk you through it and help you to complete the necessary steps.
Being involved in an accident which isn’t your fault can be rather traumatic, not just for you but also for your family. Most people don’t know how to react after being thrust into such a scenario and it can rock a family to their core when they least expect it.
You might not think it is worth going through the hassle of putting in a claim for compensation, but it doesn’t take much time at all and provided you hire a good solicitor who has experience in dealing with such matters, you will find the process of claiming for compensation rather easy.