Local authorities and councils have a legal responsibility to ensure they protect individuals’ health and safety in public places. When they fail to meet this responsibility, individuals can suffer many different types of injuries, particularly from slipping and falling. Continue reading
One of the most common forms of personal injury claims are for accidents involving slips, trips and falls. However, many people are still unaware that if they slip or fall in the workplace, a public place such as a park or recreation ground, the supermarket or even on an unkempt pavement, so long as the accident was a result of someone else’s negligence, they may well be able to put in a claim for compensation. Continue reading
Claiming after an accident
If you have an accident which is not your fault you should not be out of pocket as a result. The law serves to identify the party at fault and order them to pay you compensation. The process of making a claim after having an accident which is not your fault can appear to be a scary prospect. In fact, it can be relatively straightforward especially with the help of a specialist lawyer to guide you along the way. Before taking the first steps and filing a claim form there is one of the most important steps to take. That step is seeking legal advice. Legal advice about your accident will shape the future of any claim which is to be made. At this first and crucial step the evidence can be assessed, as can the prospects of success and any decision to proceed is then an informed one. It is best to seek advice as soon as practicable so that events are still fresh in your mind and if medical reports and further evidence are necessary there is a greater chance of this being possible soon after an accident. Continue reading
Not everything in life goes smoothly and according to plan. Even if you are very careful and think you have everything under control, someone else’s negligence might cause you harm. If you suffer an injury as a result of a slip, fall, medical negligence or a car accident, which was not your fault, you might be entitled to compensation.
What is compensation?
The term compensation usually refers to financial compensation; it is an amount of money paid to reimburse you for either pain and suffering or expenses and losses that are a direct result of the accident. There are several factors taken into account when deciding on amount of compensation one can receive. These factors include:
- Nature and extent of the injuries
- Consequential financial losses, such as loss of earnings
- Psychological injuries (in some cases)
There are 2 different measures of damages depending on the nature of the compensation:
- Tortious measure of damages, which occurs where there is a breach of duty of care, such as if you slip on an uneven pavement and break your leg, the local authority responsible for a proper maintenance of the pavement will be liable. The purpose of tortuous damages is to put someone back in a position they would have been in, has the accident not occurred; and
- Contractual measures of damages – which aim to put you in a position you would have been in have the contract been properly performed. This applies to employment relations (amongst other situations), such as unfair dismissal or claims for unpaid wages. Continue reading
Man’s best friend, the dog can soon become man’s worst enemy when they are out of control, dangerous and aggressive. Of course we do not place dogs themselves in the docks of our courtrooms but rather their owners can be held accountable. However, although not tried themselves dogs can certainly still be punished for their actions, and in fact this country still reserves the most draconian of punishments for dangerous dogs, the death sentence. Continue reading
With the ‘no win no fee’ system replacing legal aid more and more victims who have suffered an injury as a result of an accident which wasn’t their fault are finding it easier to come forward and claim what they are rightfully owed.
Naturally, the first step in making a claim for compensation is appointing a solicitor and, these days, there is certainly no shortage of professional online solicitors to choose from.
A compensation solicitor will first talk through your accident with you to ensure the case is worth pursuing and, if so, will then need you to back up the claim with as much evidence as possible such as medical reports, photographic evidence, statements from witnesses and proof of any loss of earnings you may have suffered. Continue reading
A defective product is a good that has been supplied/distributed which is unfit for purpose. A defective product is also one which is harmful or dangerous, or does not have adequate instructions for the user to follow when using the product.
Product liability is the area of legislation which imposes a duty on any one who produces a product (for example, manufacturers, suppliers, distributers and retailers). These producers have a duty to ensure that the products they distribute to the public are fit for purpose – i.e. they will not cause anyone damage or injury.
The statutory legislation which governs the area is the Consumer Protection Act 1987. Under this Act the public has a legal right to pursue a claim for compensation if they have been injured by a product which was not fit for its intended use.
Who Qualifies Under the Act?
It is possible to sue the manufacturer of a defective product, even if you were not the one who purchased the product from the retailer/manufacturer. Providing you were in a group of ‘foreseeable people’ who could possibly be injured by the defective product, you will be able to claim your compensation.
Three Points to Remember Before Making a Claim
If you have decided that you want to pursue a compensation claim in relation to a defective product, the first thing you will need to prove is that the harm/injury that you have suffered was caused by the defective product in question. Additionally, you will need to initiate this claim within 3 years of having suffered the harm/injury. Finally, it is important to keep all receipts and additional evidence, particularly if you have witnesses that are relevant to your case.
Types of Claim
Product liability spans a huge array of defective products. Interestingly, some of the most common types of defective product claim are in relation to skin blemishes caused by defective cosmetic products, skin burns from defective hairstyling equipment (e.g. straighteners), and experiencing electrical shocks from defective electrical products.
If you have been injured by a defective product, and you feel like you may have a claim for compensation, it is worth seeking professional advice from specialist personal injury lawyers to see if you have a claim which is worth pursuing.
Why Pursue a Defective Product Claim?
It is important that you pursue a valid claim if you have been injured by a defective product. The main reason for doing this is that if your claim is valid, and you are successful, you will be compensated for all your medical treatment, and in many cases, for your lost wages. You will also be compensated for any chronic suffering and any loss to the quality of your life.
There is also another important reason why you should pursue a genuine claim relating to a defective product. If you have been injured by a particular product, it is more than likely that other people who have bought the product may also risk injury. You therefore have a moral duty to ensure that the manufacturer/retailer acts in order to prevent the defective product from injuring anybody else. If you do not pursue your claim, and others don’t either, it is more likely that a greater number of people will suffer injury or harm from a particular defective product.
It is worth noting that pursuing a claim can in some circumstances be free – if you go to the right claims solicitor. Many work on a no win, no fee basis, and so claimants will not have to pay any legal costs unless their case is successfully fought.
Legal Aid for Accident Claims to be Replaced by Insurance Cover
In the not too distant future we can more than likely expect to see the abolition of Legal Aid and the emergence of BTE or Before the Event insurance cover where accident claims are concerned.
Most personal injury claims are in fact dealt with by no win no fee arrangements between the claimant and hos or her lawyer, but for medical negligence claims, where it is very difficult to assess liability at an early stage, or for highly complex claims, where solicitors are not willing to take the risk of no win no fee at the outset, legal aid still is important.
Currently, Legal Aid enables members of the public to fund claims for compensation through clinical negligence or personal injury which would otherwise prove impossible, but the costs are expensive and there may be a political agenda in that medical negligence claims are costing the NHS billions per year in compensation. The Government, although it would never admit it, may be seeking to lessen the number of claims and therefore lessen the cost to the NHS.
The replacement of Legal Aid with (Before The Event Insurance) BTE insurance is a proposal which most ministers prefer and the funding of legal costs via this method is an alternative which is also backed by Jonathan Djanogly, the Justice Minister. Before the event insurance is a type of insurance policy to protect against an event, and is the same type of insurance for example you would get to insure a car. After the event insurance in contrast is used for protecting against a costs order, after an accident or occurrence has already happened and where legal proceedings are contemplated.
Mr. Djanogly has claimed that the government intends to promote the funding of legal expenses incurred through accident claims with BTE insurance and he believes that, when this proposal comes into play, we will see a considerable drop in the costs of insurance cover.
However, not everyone is in agreement with Mr. Djanogly or in favour of the proposal and the shadow minister, Andrew Slaughter, is concerned that, not only will the proposal prevent many deserving and honest claimants from getting the justice they are entitled to, but will also act as a ‘get rich, quick’ scheme for insurance companies.
With annual BTE insurance premiums estimated to be somewhere in the region of £150.00 and insurance companies looking to gain £1 profit for every £2 made in BTE insurance premium payments this proposal is going to prove big business for many insurers.
The idea of replacing Legal Aid with BTE insurance has been churning around in the governmental pipeline since the 1990s and it seems that the re-emergence of this idea may have been prompted by Germany’s thriving insurance market.
With just under 50% of Germans being covered by legal expenses insurance policies could it be that the UK is soon to follow Germany’s lead?
A consumer survey carried out in 2010 asked 2000 consumers if they would consider paying a £75 annual insurance premium as a safeguard in covering unforeseen legal costs. Over two thirds of the consumers interviewed said they wouldn’t consider paying the premium and just 14% could see the value of BTE insurance cover.
These results don’t really bode well for the government’s proposal and it has to be said that, if Before the Event insurance is such a cut and dried, sure fire way of ensuring justice for those who could otherwise not afford to make a claim would it not have been brought into play some years back?
It would seem that the government have a lot of work to do before bringing about the changes to the way in which accident claims are dealt with and will need to convince the general public that parting with their cash in exchange for insurance cover is a beneficial move.
They will also have their work cut out convincing the majority that insurance companies are honest and will stick to their word rather than worming their way out of paying the claimant’s legal fees.
In theory this proposal may make financial sense but something that perhaps the government haven’t considered when opting to follow Germany’s lead is the difference between UK legal costs and Germany’s legal costs.
Legal costs in Germany are fixed whereas costs in the UK are uncertain and vary from case to case meaning that neither the claimant nor the insurer have a clear cut idea of what to expect when a claim for compensation is put in place.
Personal Injury Protocol
What is the personal injury protocol?
When claiming for damages in relation to personal injury there are certain steps that must be taken before the case comes to court. This enables both parties to have a firm grasp of the case against them at an early stage. With this knowledge there is much more chance of the claim settling before it reaches court. This means both sides will save time and money as well as the court’s time. If the case does get to court both side are better equipped to argue their case and no time should be wasted in seeking adjournments for further disclosure. It will also give the court a good idea of how much time to set aside for the case to be heard.
The court looks at pre-action protocols as the right way to act before cases reach court. Where a party has not acted in accordance with a protocol the court may impose sanctions on them, particularly in relation to costs.
The personal injury pre-action protocol is designed for simple low cost claims resulting from road-traffic collisions, slips and accidents at work. A similarly spirited approach would equally be expected in a more complex case with a higher value claim.
The claimant must send two copies on the letter setting out his claim to the defendant. One copy is theirs to keep the other should be passed on to their insurer. The letter should contain enough information to make out a cause of action, in particular it should include:
- A clear and concise summary of the facts;
- The nature and severity of any injuries suffered;
- Details of any financial losses incurred;
- The name and reference number of the hospital where the claimant was treated;
- Whether or not the claimant has entered into a conditional fee agreement; and
- A request for the details of any insurer.
The defendant should reply to the letter of claim within 21 days of it being posted, in his or her reply he should include:
Details of his or her insurer; and
- Anything omitted from the letter of claim which is relevant;
If the claimant has not heard anything after the 21-day period he or she may issue proceedings with the court.
Duties of the insurer
The insurer has up to 3 months after the claim has been acknowledged to investigate the circumstances surrounding it and reply, letting the claimant know whether they admit or deny liability.
Documents in support of defence
Upon a denial of liability, the defendant should include with the letter of reply any documents which are relevant in showing why he says that he is not liable. A list of documents, which might be useful in specific cases can be found in Annex B of the protocol.
If experts are required
Experts can be very expensive it is best to avoid using them if at all possible. However, if one is truly necessary then costs should be kept to a minimum by trying to agree on one expert that can be used by both parties.
According to the protocol the party wishing to instruct an expert should first send a list of suitable experts to the other side. The other party should reply within 14 days with any objections to the experts contained in the list. If there is an expert which both sides are happy with then they should be jointly instructed to write a report and to answer any written questions sent from either party.
If a party receives a list of experts but does wish to instruct any of them they may instruct their own chosen expert as long as they are acting reasonably. An instance of reasonably objecting to an expert is if they were an employee or relative of the other party.
If an expert has not been objected to, the other party may only call an expert in rebuttal of that expert if:
a) It has been agreed;
b) It has been directed by the court; or
c) The initial expert’s report has been amended and the original has not been disclosed.
Both parties are asked to consider whether the claimant would benefit from early rehabilitative treatment.
Upon a partial or full admission of liability the disclosure of any medical reports should be made. The parties should then consider whether settlement can be achieved.
The making of offers intended on settling the claim should be considered and if made should be accompanied by evidence to assist.
The pre-action protocol promotes a cards-on-the-table approach to litigation, which is aimed at saving the money and time of the parties and the courts. Compliance with the protocol is advisable and a failure to do so will, at the very least, show you in a bad light to the court.
ACCIDENT ADVICE: WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT
Two of the most popular accident-related claims that people make, and often need to know information about, are traffic accidents and accidents which occur at work. Accident claims can also be referred to as personal injury claims. Do remember that if you are making a claim for physical injury, you may also be able to make a claim for damaged property if this was a related result of the accident.
Although many people attempt to find out information on what to do several days after they have had an accident, fewer actually know/search for information on what to do immediately after the accident has occurred. The first step is to obtain as much information as you can about the other driver involved. This should include their full name, their phone number, their address, their insurance information, the make and model of their car, and as much information from the scene of the accident as you can. It is also worth noting down any statements they make to you, particularly if they are assuming responsibility for the accident.
If you are not injured, take photos of the accident and surrounding location, and make sure you note down the details of any witnesses that saw the accident unfold. Make sure you also keep a record of any police officers that deal with the accident, and tell both them and the other driver the injuries you have suffered.
The reason it is important to note down as much information as you can at the time of the accident is that it will bolster your legal claim afterwards if you have as much detail and evidence as possible.
Ensure that you notify the police within 24 hours of the accident happening. Additionally, make sure you notify your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible. Failure to inform them within a reasonable time may mean they refuse you insurance.
Although the amount of compensation you receive will vary from case-to-case, should you pursue a claim, there are general guidelines for the type of injury suffered. For example, mild whiplash can receive up to £4575, whilst hip or pelvis injuries could receive up to £76350 in compensation.
Accidents at Work
These types of accidents cover a wide variety of situations. Accidents could involve handling machinery, falling off ladders, driving company vehicles, or even occur in office environment. Every employer has a certain degree of responsibility to ensure its employees are safe at work. If you have had an accident at work that was due to your employer’s lack of sufficient health and safety regulations, you may be entitled to compensation. Any injury that occurs at work, even if it is a minor injury, needs to be documented in the employer’s “accident book”. All employers are required to keep and maintain this book.
Asbestos related injuries can receive, as a general guideline, up to £74300. Please note the figures used in this article are only guidelines.
How Do I Know if I have a Claim?
If you are unsure about whether you have a personal injury claim or a claim for property damage, your next step could be seeking impartial advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau. They will be able to weigh up the facts of your case and tell you if you have a potential claim. They will also be able to tell you whether you need to seek legal advice. They have the details of solicitors who specialise in accident claims and so will be able to recommend trustworthy solicitors should you decide you need legal advice/representation.
Please note that you have a maximum of 3 years from the date of the accident to pursue your claim. Although this is the maximum, it is advisable to pursue your claim without delay.
Solicitors Dealing with Accident Claims
Many solicitors now offer to work on a “no win no fee” basis. This often means you receive 100% of your compensation. It is advisable to read the small print of any agreement you make with your legal representation, as it may state that they require money upfront. Some solicitors do not charge you a fee at all, instead seeking payment from the other person’s insurance company.