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Many people suffer injuries through accidents that are not their fault. It is sometimes difficult to understand whether there is anyone to blame for what has happened and whether you have any entitlement to recompense. You may well be wondering how you make a compensation claim. For a personal injury claim to take place there needs to have been some sort of injury suffered by you as a result of the accident. That does not just mean a physical injury, as a psychological injury or illness would also count.
Accidents and resultant injuries can be caused in all sorts of ways, in a huge variety of environments. Some of the more common ones are:
Road traffic accidents
A very common cause of injury, which can be less straightforward if you are not actually the driver of the vehicle. You could be a passenger in a friend or relative’s car or perhaps just a pedestrian. Whiplash is one of the most frequent injuries suffered by people in such collisions.
This does not just relate to high risk industries as accidents can happen in almost any environment. Neither does it have to be just a straightforward immediate injury, as claims for work related injuries also includes industrial diseases and any illness caused by carrying out your work. It can also include psychological problems, for which a common cause is undue stress at work. Psychological problems may also arise due to victimisation or bullying at work.
Slips Trips And Falls This is the usual name given to that huge category of mishaps that include falling as a result of slipping on something or tripping over an object or irregularity on the floor. Again, these can happen anywhere, so it could be a workplace accident or it may be when you are walking down the street or doing your weekly shopping. Supermarkets are prone to this type of accident as there is an increased danger of foods being spilt and bottles and jars of produce being broken. Ironically, even the prompt cleaning up of such spillages can lead to slips if appropriate warning is not given of the resulting wet floor.
Your first reaction when you suffer an injury and think you may be entitled to compensation will probably be to consult an accident claim solicitor, but there are other considerations too. The sensible first step when you suffer an injury is to approach the organisation responsible, providing it is obvious who that is. If you slip inside a supermarket then it is fairly clear who you need to approach and the same applies to work related accidents. If you are in a road accident then your own insurers should be the first point of contact. Anything to do with uneven paving or other hazards in public spaces is likely to fall under the highways Agency or local authority.
You do need to be aware, though, that many large organisations will have formal complaints procedures, but these will not necessarily be very fast in reaching a conclusion. The danger is that if you let things go on for too long, you may run out of time to take legal action to claim compensation for your injuries. What you want to avoid is a long drawn out debate that finally ends in an unsatisfactory response from the body you are dealing with, as it may then be too late to take legal action.
Whatever the nature of the accident, you should keep your own written records right from the start. Make notes while the facts are clear in your mind and take photographs if appropriate. If you are injured you will need to have been seen either by a hospital or your own GP. Medical reports could be a vital part of your evidence if the case ends up in court. With some types of accident you will need to have reported it to the police within a certain time. Some insurance policies, for example, will not pay out if it has not been reported to the police.
For workplace injuries your employer should have an Accident Book and have recorded the incident anyway. Check in case this has not happened, and if necessary put your own record of events in writing to your employer.
There are quite a lot of lawyers who now specialise in dealing with compensation claims for accidents and injuries. A lot of these offer no win no fee options, where you do not have to pay any legal costs if you lose. However, you will often have to cover the cost of an insurance policy to cover the fees if the case is lost. You need to be very careful when choosing a solicitor, as many people have suffered through not understanding what they are getting into. People have made claims in the belief that it was no win no fee, but then ended up having to foot large legal bills from the other side when the case has been lost.