"Their knowledge is one thing, but the way they go about their work is amazing. They build a relationship with you that's genuine, and it continues long after your case."
– Andy, client’s partner
There are several stages during a serious injury claim:
One important step in a personal injury compensation claim is establishing who was at fault, or ‘liable’ for what has happened and to what degree.
Personal injury cases are typically brought on the basis that there has been a tortious act (usually negligence), a breach of a statutory duty, or a combination of the two.
Contributory negligence is a defence to a claim based on negligence. It applies to cases where the injured person may have, through their own negligence, contributed to the harm they suffered. For example, in a case where a pedestrian crosses a road negligently and is hit by a driver who was driving negligently.
Damages are calculated as if the injured party was entirely blameless. The amount is then reduced according to the percentage of contributory negligence (if any).
For example, if damages are calculated at £100,000, and the injured person was deemed to be 10% responsible, they would ultimately receive £90,000 in compensation (90% of £100,000).
Another common situation is where an injured person was not wearing a seatbelt in a car. People often incorrectly assume that they are not eligible to claim for compensation in these circumstances, but this is not the case. Instead, it may only mean a small degree contributory negligence.
With serious injury cases, establishing the apportionment of liability between the parties is critical, because even small changes in percentage can have a significant overall effect when the damages are substantial. A difference of 5% to damages of £5,000 will mean a reduction in compensation of £250. However, that same 5% applied to damages totalling £5,000,000 would mean a reduction of £250,000.
Expert liability analysis
We place a special emphasis on the importance of establishing the best liability outcome possible for our clients. We instruct the foremost liability experts in the country, who will help us to fight for every per cent, for exactly this reason.
In addition, we conduct regular meetings involving analysis of the case by several lawyers at the same time. This is so that each participant can bring his or her experience to examine every available angle in trying to achieve the best possible result.
It is this careful analysis that has allowed us to take on and win cases rejected by others because we have been able to look at the case from angles that others may not have considered.
Establishing what is known as 'causation' is the second major step in a personal injury claim. In simple terms, once it has been proven that the defendant was negligent (i.e. responsible to some degree for the accident), it must then be proven that the negligence was responsible for the resulting injuries.
A very simple example would be if a person was in a car accident and sustained a back injury. If they have a pre-existing condition, and would have developed back problems at some point regardless of the accident, then establishing to what extent the accident had contributed to the symptoms will be key.
In this type of situation, it is crucial to have a serious injury lawyer who has a thorough understanding of often-complicated medical issues. If the lawyer does not have solid medical knowledge, they may struggle to achieve the right compensation on behalf of their client when there are issues of causation.
Another main aspect of a personal injury claim is establishing the compensation value. This is known as 'quantum'.
A solicitor will establish the value of a claim by liaising with medical (and other) professionals, who will explain exactly what loss and expense the injured person has incurred and is likely to incur in the future.
Typically, it is then the legal team's job to create a 'Schedule of Loss', setting out the past and future claim in detail.
In cases involving minor injuries, the Schedule of Loss is often relatively straightforward and obvious. In a serious injury case, however, it is significantly more complicated. This is because there are indirect knock-on effects that must also be considered.
One example would be that a person with a serious spinal injury might wish to go on holiday once a year. In order to do this they will need to book extra seats on the flight, both for themselves and for the carers who will accompany them. They may also have other specific transportation and accommodation needs. All of these additional costs must be calculated to a fine level of detail.
If any of these less obvious elements are overlooked, the level of compensation could be lower than it otherwise should have been. With the example above, the injured person would either not be able to go on holiday, or would have to utilise funds intended for other purposes.
It is the ability to look beyond the obvious, and to go into this level of detail for every element of the injured person's life both current and future, that distinguishes a serious injury lawyer from a personal injury 'specialist'.
There is no set period for a serious injury case to reach its conclusion. Due to their complex nature, serious injury cases may take years rather than months to be finalised and it is important not to rush to settlement. Medical and other professionals will need time to assess fully the impact and consequences of a serious injury.
If a case is settled too quickly, unforeseen future consequences of an injury may not be taken into account, and this could result in a reduced compensation award. However, in appropriate circumstances, we can obtain significant interim payments throughout the lifetime of the case, thereby securing financial support for clients whilst the case is in progress.
We recognise that the conclusion of a case often represents a major step for our clients. When all the appropriate evidence has been gathered, and the case can be presented in a comprehensive manner, we endeavour to conclude matters and secure the maximum compensation as quickly as possible.
If you are looking to make a serious injury claim, please contact us.