I have been injured in an accident - have I got a claim?

Accidents happen - but some are avoidable. Avoidable accidents that cause injury usually mean that a claim for damages can be pursued.

The law is more defined when it comes to particular relationships. Employers owe a higher level of duty of care to protect their employees from injury, owners have statutory responsibility to visitors (and trespassers), local authorities have responsibilities to the general public and landlords have responsibilities to tenants.

Someone I know had died in an accident. Can a claim be made in those circumstances? 

Yes. Claims following fatal accidents require specialist advice and care. Claims may be brought by relatives who are witnesses (psychiatric injury), financially dependant on the deceased or who have lost a child. The law provides firm guidance on what one is entitled to claim and how the claim should be presented. Provided that negligence on the part of another has caused the death then a claim can be made by the relatives and/or personal representatives of the deceased.

How long do I have to bring a claim? 

Whilst there are exceptions to the rule, the rule of thumb is that you have 3 YEARS from the date of the accident to issue Court proceedings in respect of your claim.

I have recovered - does that mean that I cannot claim? No. Court proceedings to pursue a claim for personal injury compensation can be issued up to three years from the date of an accident. If the injuries resolve over a 6 month period then the claim would simply be limited to 6 months pain, discomfort and suffering – even if the claim is made a year after the recovery has been achieved. Many claims assume that a full recovery will be achieved at some point in the future so if the recovery has already taken place it may be easier to prove the true extent of the injury.

How long will it take? 

Some claims can be investigated, valued and resolved within 3 months. Other claims, for example where liability is disputed or where the medical evidence is more complicated because of continuing symptoms, can take up to 3 years to finalise. Most claims take between 12 and 18 months.

Will I have to go to court? Sometimes it is necessary to issue Court proceedings to put your opponents under pressure and encourage them to put forward realistic proposals for settlement of your claim. The fact that proceedings are issued does not necessarily mean that you will have to attend Court to give evidence – more than 95% of cases are settled without a Court hearing.

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