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Personal Injury explained

Personal Injury is a legal term for an injury to your body, mind or emotions. It can be a physical injury, disease or illness or a psychological injury or illness. The term is normally used to refer to a type of litigation where an injury was caused by the negligence (failure to take proper or reasonable care) of another.

It’s an ever-changing area of the law. It seems that every month Personal Injury law is modified and moves on, mainly because taking care of injured people, protecting their rights and fighting their corner is, if anything, becoming more accepted.

The most common types of Personal Injury claims are:

  • Road traffic accidents;
  • Accidents at work;
  • Trip and fall accidents;
  • Accidents in the home;
  • Holiday accidents;
  • Product defect accidents (known as product liability);
  • Assault claims;
  • Medical negligence – for example:
    • medical accidents
    • dental accidents
  • Industrial disease cases – for example:
    • asbestosis
    • peritoneal mesothelioma
    • occupational deafness
    • occupational stress
    • repetitive strain injury
    • chest diseases - e.g., asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pneumoconiosis, silicosis
    • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
    • chronic obstructive airways disease
    • vibration white finger
    • contact dermatitis

If the negligence of another party can be proved, you (the injured party) may be entitled to monetary compensation from that party.

Is there a time limit to claiming?

In England and Wales if you bring a claim for compensation, court proceedings must start within three years of the date of your accident. If you do not bring your claim within this time you will lose the right to bring your claim forever.

But there are a few exceptions:

1)     If you were under the age of 18 at the time of your accident you have until the day prior to your 21st birthday to start proceedings.

2)     A court has the discretion to extend or waive the limitation period if it is considered fair to do so.

3)     If the accident caused an injury, for example industrial deafness, then the three-year period will start from when you knew (or should have known) that you had a claim.

What does ‘no win no fee’ actually mean?

A ‘no win no fee’ is the Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) between a lawyer or law firm and you (their client) where your lawyer takes on your Personal Injury case on the understanding that if they lose the case, you will not have to pay your lawyer's costs.

Sounds great doesn’t it?

But if the lawyer wins the case they will be entitled to their standard fee plus an 'up-lift' referred to as a success fee. In English law, the success fee cannot be greater than 100% of the lawyer’s standard fee.

How much money will I get?

The amount of money (compensation) for your Personal Injury will depend on the severity of your injury.

Very bad injuries (such as brain damage, loss of limbs, broken bones) which cause intense physical pain, loss and suffering will usually receive the highest injury settlements.

What is a Personal Injury lawyer?

A Personal Injury lawyer is a legal professional who will provide you with legal representation when you claim to have been injured, physically or psychologically, as a result of the negligence or wrongdoing of another person, company, government agency, or other entity.

A Personal Injury lawyer will therefore be knowledgeable in law of torts, which includes civil wrongs and economic or non-economic damages to your property, reputation, or rights.

How can a Personal Injury lawyer help?

It is the job of your Personal Injury lawyer to fight for your rights.

A good Personal Injury lawyer will do the following:

  • Strive to place you in as good a position as possible following an accident to try to recover the life you led before the accident;
  • Interview you to evaluate your case to:
    • determine the legal matter
    • identify the distinct issues rooted within your bigger problem
    • extensively research every issue to build a strong case
  • File your legal complaint;
  • Draft legal documents;
  • Deliver oral arguments and argue your case in court if necessary.

Ultimately, a Personal Injury lawyer owes you a duty of loyalty and confidentiality and must work to protect your best interests.

What next?

When you are injured by someone else, it is not easy to know what to do next, who to speak to, who to trust and whether you are entitled to compensation.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL)has over 4,500 specialist injury lawyers, who are members of the well-established APIL quality mark scheme. The idea is, you have a lawyer who keeps up to date with all the latest legal developments working for you.

We strongly recommend you arrange a face-to-face chat with someone who specialises in Personal Injury law, just so you get the right advice for your particular situation.

Talk to someone you can trust; a good place to start is by asking friends, colleagues and family for personal recommendations of someone they may have used. There are a good number of excellent lawyers specialising in Personal Injury law who will be familiar with the latest legislation and will ensure you receive sound advice.

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. This article is merely a general comment on the relevant topic.

Published on 25th January 2013
(Last updated 28th March 2018)

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