Read more to learn why serious injuries require exceptional legal expertise
It is very important that our visitors understand that the skills required to oversee a small compensation claim is extremely different to the skills required to oversee a serious injury claim. The information below is a simplified overview of some of the key issues in a personal injury claim. With a basic understanding of these issues, it is then possible to understand the differences between a low and high level claim, and why these differences make it so vital to instruct a suitably qualified serious injury solicitor.
- Why are serious injury lawyers different?
- 3 key steps in a personal injury claim
Why are serious injury lawyers different?
A serious injury (such as brain damage) will have a much more complicated personal injury compensation claim than a low level injury (such as a broken wrist). .
With a serious injury, the lawyer needs to develop an understanding of each and every detail of their client's life in order to achieve an appropriate compensation result. Remember that with the long term consequences of serious injury, achieving a large amount of compensation is only the beginning.
The compensation is the means by which they will help to fund their lifestyle needs, in order to ensure that they have the highest quality of life possible. For example, a severely spinally injured person who requires 24 hour nursing care will often require over £250,000 per year to fund the nursing care package alone. If any small details are missed, compensation will not be at the level that is required, and it is the injured person's quality of life which will suffer.
3 key steps in a personal injury claim
Agreeing who was at fault
One important step in a personal injury compensation claim is establishing who was at fault, and to what degree. This is known as 'liability'.
It is not black and white. A person can be deemed to be only partially responsible, and this is known as 'contributory negligence'.
Contributory negligence is the concept where a person contributed to the harm that they suffered in some way. Damages are assessed completely separately, and 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).
A common situation is where a person was not wearing their seatbelt. Many people may assume this to mean that they are not eligible to claim for compensation, but this is not the case. Instead it may only mean a degree contributory negligence.
With serious injury cases establishing the ratio of negligence is critical, because even small changes in percentage will have a large overall effect when the damages awarded are in the millions of pounds. A difference of 5% with damages of £5,000 will mean a reduction in compensation of £250. However that same 5% of damages totalling £5,000,000 will mean a reduction of £250,000!
Expert Liability Analysis
As a serious injury law firm we place a special emphasis on the importance of establishing the best liability outcome possible for our clients. We instruct some of the foremost liability experts in the country, who will fight for every percent, for exactly this reason.
For each serious injury case, there are also detailed meetings where every member of the legal team is present. This is so that each participant can bring their considerable experience and expertise to bear, to ensure that no stone is left unturned in trying to achieve the best possible result.
It is this individual attention from our team that allows us to take on and win cases which have been rejected by some of our competitors, because we have the ability to look at the situation from angles which others may not have considered.
Connecting the accident to the injury
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 accident itself was responsible for the resulting injury.
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 the back problems at some point regardless of the accident, then establishing to what extent the accident had contributed to the symptoms would 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.
Establishing the compensation value
Another main undertaking during a personal injury claim is establishing the compensation value. In legal jargon, 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 problems the injured person has now and will have in the future. It is then the solicitor's to job to create a document, known as the 'Schedule of Loss', which sets out the solutions to all of these problems and their associated costs.
It is important to note that in the eyes of the legal system, compensation exists in order to "put the claimant back in the position they were in prior to the accident, as much as is possible".
A simple example of this would be if a taxi driver sustained a broken leg, he will be unable to work for the duration of its recovery. One element in the 'Schedule of Loss' will be 'loss of income', which will be equal to his average day's earnings multiplied by the number of days he will be unable to work.
Complexity of a serious injury
In minor injuries, the Schedule of Loss is often relatively straightforward and obvious. In a serious injury, 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 must reasonably be expected 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 go with them. They will also have other specific transportation and accommodation needs. All of these additional details have a specific cost, and must be worked out to an incredibly fine level of detail.
If any of these less obvious elements are overlooked, the level of compensation will end up being lower than it otherwise could have been. With the example above, the injured person would either not be able to go on holiday, or would have to dip into funds intended for other purposes.
It is the ability to look beyond the obvious, and go into this level of detail for every element of the injured person's life both current and future, that makes a serious injury lawyer different from a personal injury 'specialist'.
If you have any questions that have not been answered in the above sections, please contact us so that we can answer them for you. If we are unable to answer your questions personally, we will be able to point you in the right direction through the medical and professional relationships that we have built up over 20 years.