At the start of the claims process, personal injury solicitors are interested in being able to evaluate your claim and reach a value on your compensation settlement. To do this they need evidence, and the first key piece of evidence is that the accident has been properly reported and recored. The 3rd party, the people you hold responsible for your injuries, must have been notified of the accident and its cause.
Who have you told about your accident, its cause and your injuries?
Your claim will be made on the basis of an injury and how that affects your life, and it will be made against a 3rd party (and their insurers) on the grounds that you hold them liable. Accidents happen, hazardous things become apparent, but sometimes even the most thorough of 3rd party organisations miss them. They do require the help of joe public to be notified about things that they miss – especially if they are in public places.
The fact that an injury has occurred and treatment from a medical professional has been received, isn’t always enough for a claim to succeed. There has to be evidence and there has to be proof that an accident happened the way the claimant says it happened. For example, if you have a slip on a wet floor in a shop, you could potentially sue them if you were injured as a result and they had not taken adequate steps to warn you of the hazard (our old friend the yellow hazard sign!). However, if you were to simply get up and leave the store without reporting the matter and entering it in an accident book, you could cause your future claim a problem. When your solicitor contacts them about your claim, they would be able to show you hadn’t reported anything and that their accident book had no record of the incident. This could lead to a judge throwing your claim out on the grounds that it could not be proven that the injury was caused on the premises of the 3rd party.
It is vital to always ensure that any accident (even if there is no immediate injury obvious) is always recorded in an accident book. You should ensure that you control what is written in the book and ask to read it before it is signed by any person authorised to sign the record.
If there is no accident book, how do you report the accident?
If the accident happened at work, there is a legal requirement for injuries of a certain severity to be recorded so you should have access to an accident book of some kind. If your employer refuses to record your injury, won’t let you use or see the accident book, this is not good practise and potentially illegal.
If you have had an accident in a public area or on the road – say a trip on a pavement, or in a non-fault car accident – where there is no accident book, it is still possible and important to report your accident, the injuries and the details of the incident to relevant parties.
Firstly, if you trip or fall on a dis-repaired section of footpath, you should ALWAYS report it to the relevant local authority. Most councils refer to the department responsible for footpath maintenance as the Highways Department. You should call the relevant council and notify them of the details of your accident. They will then be ‘on notice’ that an incident has occurred and hopefully repair or remove any hazard. They will usually send out a claim form or give you the details of their insurers. However, we advise that it is best not to contact the insurers directly or fill in the form and instead, employ the services of a No Win No Fee Claims Company and their Solicitors. It is our view that you will get a better settlement and certainly be exposed to less hassle (and no costs!) by doing so.
If you have been injured in a car accident, you should always notify the insurers of the vehicle you believe to be responsible for the incident. Even if you don’t intend to claim on your insurance, you should report the incident. Then the insurers will be aware of the matter and on notice that a claim may follow. It can then not be argued that you were not present in the incident or that you had failed to notify any interested parties.
Report and report again
The basic mantra of this particular piece of claim information is that it is VITAL to report the details of your accident to anyone worthy of being made aware. Always tell the hospital or GP exactly how you were injured so that your medical records match any potential claim made and also tell the council, insurers, accident books, associations etc. The more ‘witnesses’ you have and records, the easier it will be to succeed with your claim.