An Accident Lawyers Guide to Claiming Injury Compensation
Initially, your accident lawyer will investigate whether you have suffered injury as a result of the negligence or carelessness of someone else. They will then explain their view on the merits of your claim, and talk to you about the compensation you may receive. Following this, your lawyer will arrange a medical assessment and evaluate your financial losses.
Compensation varies, of course, depending on the severity of your injuries and your individual circumstances, but it may include loss of earnings (past and future), as well as any expenses you have incurred as a result of your injury. You may also be entitled to damages for pain, suffering and effects on your everyday life. In serious cases, such as those involving head or spinal injuries, you could be able to get compensation for your past and future care and any equipment you may need. If you have been seriously injured, arrangements can be made for rehabilitation and physiotherapy treatment to aid your recovery.
Again, depending on your injuries, most straightforward accident compensation claims are included within 12-18 months, but it may take longer. The vast majority of cases do not proceed to a final hearing in court, and an experienced accident lawyer will always try to settle the case by negotiation with your opponent first.
You may have the benefit of “Before the Event” legal expenses insurance which will cover the cost of your claim. Your solicitor will also look at any insurance policies that you have and whether or not you should get in contact with them about your claim. In most cases, legal expenses insurers are content to let a solicitor of your choice act for you under the policy.
Alternatively your solicitor can arrange for a “No Win, No Fee” or Conditional Fee Agreement. They can also arrange legal fees insurance at no cost to you, so that if your claim is unsuccessful you do not have to be concerned about paying any legal costs.
In certain circumstances, the court can award an “interim payment” during the course of your claim and pay a proportion of the likely compensation award early. An interim payment is normally handed out with specific instructions, such as it must be spent on equipment or care. If the award is large, the court will also decide whether the compensation will be paid in one lump sum or in installments, known as periodical payments.
Catastrophic Injuries involve damage to the brain or spinal cord. More than a million people in the UK suffer a head injury each year and, for an unfortunate few, the result is devastating. Injuries to the spinal cord are thankfully quite rare, however when they happen there effects are far-reaching and the monetary consequences for the injured person and their family are high.
If you have received an injury such as this, then you should ensure that the solicitor that you are dealing with specialises in head and spinal injury cases. They will be able to provide the injured person and their family with support and address rehabilitation and welfare issues as early as possible. Where cases involve substantial injuries they may arrange for a member of the family to act of behalf of the injured person through the Court of Protection.
Head and spinal injury claims are inevitably complex and awards of damages can be significant, not least because the injured person may require care for the rest of his or her life. However whilst money cannot always fully compensate for the injury but it can help people to cope with the consequences, by providing funds for carers or necessary changes to living arrangements to enable the injured person to achieve a level of independence.
Because of the complexity surrounding the issues, it is important to instruct a specialist lawyer, in order to maximise your chances of success. Accident claims are often complex and it is always important to get specific legal advice from an experienced accident lawyer. In particular, time limits apply so make sure you take advice as soon as possible.