Gary Chadwick, an experienced personal injury solicitor, discusses what to do if you have been hurt in an accident.
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, older people, particularly those who are frail, are some of the most vulnerable when it comes to becoming involved in accidents. Furthermore, those are sixty five years old are considered the most at risk as they often suffer from the worst injuries, whilst the majority of accidents in older age groups involve women rather than men.
The most common type of accidents involving older people are falls as these are much more likely to happen with age and are also likely to result in more serious injuries. This tends to be the case because older people are not always as well able to save themselves from a fall as people who are much younger due to weakened stability and slower reflexes.
Coping with an accident
When you are injured in an accident, you must make sure that you see your GP, attend a walk-in centre or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Department as soon as you can. By doing so, you will ensure that you get the right treatment straight away which will in turn help to speed up your recovery.
If necessary, your GP or the hospital you attend may refer you for further treatment, such as physiotherapy to help you with your mobility or counselling if the accident you experienced was particularly traumatic and has caused you a lot of distress and upset. Alongside this, organisations such as Age UK can also provide help and advice by putting you in touch with professionals who could offer you support whilst you recover, or who could supply equipment and adaptations to make mobility easier for you at home if you are struggling. If you have been seriously hurt, you should also consider taking advice about whether or not you have a valid claim for compensation for the injuries you have sustained.
Am I able to claim compensation for my accident or injury?
If you have been injured in an accident in the last three years and it was not your fault, you are entitled to make a claim for compensation. However, some people may feel uncomfortable about making a claim as they feel it may be ‘wrong’ to do so or they simply do not want to deal with the stress it could possibly cause.
Therefore, it is important to remember that if the accident was not your fault and you can prove that you were injured because of the failings of someone else; you deserve to be compensated. The other party will almost always have insurance to cover the cost of any claim made. If your claim is successful, it is the insurance companies who will pay out any compensation and not the other party, who are otherwise known as the Defendant.
Types of claims
Some of the most common types of accidents are those involving a slip, trip or fall in public places such as on the pavement, road or on private property such as in shops or supermarkets. Personal injury claims are also frequently made following injuries sustained at work or in road traffic accidents.
However, there is now a growing increase in claims being made for injuries sustained from things such as dog bites or the negligent provision of services provided by professionals, such as hairdressers or beauty therapists.
What can I claim for?
When making a personal injury claim, it is important to be aware that it will have two different elements.
The first element is the compensation for the pain and suffering caused by your injuries and for the effect those injuries may have had on your lifestyle and day-to-day activities.
Often an accident, particularly a fall, will have hidden consequences. These can be effects experienced afterwards, such as fear, a loss of confidence and it can also bring about restrictions on activities that were enjoyed before the accident happened, such as outings, hobbies and socialising. Sometimes this limitation on lifestyle can eventually lead to social isolation and in extreme circumstances, depression.
If there have been certain consequences and after-effects because of an injury, the compensation awarded would reflect this. For example, for many older people, relatively modest injuries can have a disproportionate effect on their day-to-day living and they can take much longer to recover compared to young people.
The second element of a personal injury claim is a claim for out-of-pocket expenses caused by the accident. These can be things such as the cost of travelling, property damage, medical expenses and any income such as loss of earnings arising from the accident you were in.
How much does it cost to make a claim?
Usually a claim will be dealt with on a ‘no-win no-fee’ basis. This means that if the claim is unfortunately lost, you, as the Claimant, would have nothing to pay.
On the other hand if the claim is won, your basic legal costs would be paid for by the other party. However, your solicitor would be entitled to seek a ‘success fee’ from you, although this cannot be more than twenty five percent of the compensation awarded to you. This means you would always keep at least seventy five percent for yourself.
Alternatively, your solicitor can investigate whether or not you already have legal expenses cover. If you do, this can then be used to fund your claim so the fee is not extracted from your compensation amount.
How do I choose the right solicitor?
- Make sure the person who would eventually be dealing with you claim is fully qualified with experience of dealing with personal injury claims and is not a unqualified junior member of staff.
- Make sure you are able to contact the person dealing with your claim easily and directly. You do not want to be dealing with a call centre, which are sometimes even based offshore.
- Make sure the person you deal with is someone you are comfortable with and that they are friendly, approachable and professional at all times.
If you would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please contact Gary Chadwick (0115 9 100 200 or [email protected]) or any of the members of our personal injury team and we will be pleased to help you.
Posted on April 9, 2014