Ten Things You Should Know About Claiming Personal Injury Compensation
1. A solicitor will get you more compensation than if you deal with the insurers direct.
Defendant's insurers love it when they by pass the lawyers and deal with you direct? Why? Because it saves them money! They know that they can probably get away with paying you less (sometimes substantially less) than your claim is worth. So, use a solicitor and maximise the amount of compensation you receive.
2. You only have 3 years to claim.
Actually, you only have 3 years less 1 day to issue your claim at court (and there's a lot of work that needs to be done before you are able to do this)! If you don't your claim will be time barred and you will not be able to bring it. There are exceptions but you must be aware of this ticking time bomb.
3. You can still claim compensation even if the accident was partly your fault.
Partial blame doesn't rule out a claim. If you are 30% at fault that means the other party was 70% at fault and will have to pay you 70% of the compensation you would normally get. So, it's still worth claiming.
4. It's unlikely you will have to go to court.
Even when the other side disputes liability for the accident, the vast majority of cases settle without the need for a court hearing. So, don't be put off by worrying about going to court - it's unlikely to happen.
5. It doesn't take years to make a claim.
Recent changes in the way compensation claims are dealt with mean that most claims are settled in a matter of months, not years. Cases involving very serious injuries and/or very complex liability issues can take longer but these are the exceptions to the general rule.
6. You don't have to be 18 or over to make a claim.
Children (which means people not yet 18) can claim compensation. A parent or some other person acts as the child's Litigation Friend and deal with the claim on the child's behalf. Any settlement must be approved by a judge and the compensation is invested by the Court until the child is 18 (although it can be paid out sooner in certain circumstances).
7. You can still claim if you are injured by an uninsured driver.
If an uninsured driver has caused your injuries you can still claim against him and your compensation is paid by the Motor Insurers' Bureau. They will claim the compensation back from the uninsured driver but they, not the driver, have to pay you.
8. Even if it's "No Win No Fee” you will probably lose some of your compensation if you win.
Most "No Win No Fee” arrangements mean that you should pay nothing if you lose and only pay your solicitor if you win. But, and this is sometimes not made clear, your solicitor will look to keep some of your compensation as a "success fee” if you win. You will normally get at least 75% of the compensation you recover if you win. Your solicitor should explain how this works in practice.
9. It's in your interests to use a specialist personal injury solicitor.
Why? Because they understand this area of work better than a non specialist and will be better placed to get you the maximum amount of compensation. You wouldn't ask a plumber to fix your broken car, so don't ask a corporate lawyer to deal with your personal injury claim. It's your claim so get a specialist to deal with it for you.
10. Ignore the "compensation culture” myth - you are entitled to make a claim.
Despite the press headlines, there is no such thing as the "compensation culture”. That is a myth encouraged by the insurance industry to deter people from claiming. If someone causes an accident and you end up injured, why shouldn't you claim compensation? If you cannot work, how can you pay your bills? Ignore the media hype and look after your own interest!