If you suffer from a personal injury, depending on the seriousness of the accident, where you were at the time of the accident and what may have caused the accident, you may be able to make a personal injury claim. Accidents can happen at the worst of times and often have long term negative physical and emotional effects.

Over 3,000,000 people suffer from accidents every year and often someone or something else is at fault. If this is the case then you will be able to make a personal injury claim. However making a claim and receiving compensation can be a tricky process, which can be made easier with the help of a professional solicitor. Most solicitors will be able to offer a free initial assessment of the injury and what may have caused it and they will be able to tell you whether or not you have a justifiable claim.

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Whether you suffered from a trip or fall, you happened to be in the car when you had an accident, you were at work or somewhere else, it is important to collect as much evidence and information as possible if you plan on making a personal injury claim.

What is considered a personal injury?

There are various accidents and injuries that you can claim on but only a few of those incidents constitute personal injuries. For example if you as a pedestrian were hit or injured by a vehicle and the blame lies solely on a third party you can make a personal injury claim. However if you have been involved in an accident as a pedestrian and are to some extent to blame, you could still be eligible to some level of damages, but not as much.

If you experience an accident as a result of an animal on a road and the owner responsible for that animal has failed to manage the animal or animals with regards to the safety of road users, you can bring a personal injury claim for damages against them. In the case of wild animals you cannot make a personal injury claim as there is no third party at fault.

Accidents in the workplace can also result in a personal injury claim. If you feel that an employer is to be held accountable for an accident or injury that occurred in a workplace, you can make a personal injury claim. It is important to remember that your employer cannot end your employment if you make such a claim as this would count as unfair dismissal, so don’t be worried about the stability of your job if you happen to have suffered a fall at work.

Trips and falls in public areas, such as retail stores, shopping centres and theatres are the responsibility of the land owners and as such they are liable for blame. Should you suffer an accident on a pavement or path that is related to a defect in the pavement such as a misplaced slab or a pothole you can bring a personal injury claim against those responsible for maintaining the pavement or path.

How can I claim?

Once you have instructed a solicitor you will need your solicitor to send a claim letter to the defendant outlining the details of the injury including the circumstances in which it took place. Your solicitor may also suggest that you obtain information from a relevant specialist or a doctor if you need evidence to support your claim; this is particularly useful in the case of extreme injuries.

The defendant will then need to investigate and reply to the letter which must be done in a three month period, although normally it takes far less time. They can accept or deny liability. Should they accept then your solicitor will try to settle the matter outside of court. Should they deny liability then your solicitor will advise you on whether or not to take the matter further.

Should I collect evidence?

In order to be able to collect enough information when it comes to stating your claim and negotiating a settlement there are a number of things you should be able to provide your solicitor. You need to provide information as to where the accident happened and the date and time if possible it occurred as well as details of your injuries, medical diagnosis and treatment. Details of any witnesses as well as contact details are an additional bonus as they can help defend your case.

In terms of insurance, if you have legal expenses insurance or you are a member of a trade union you should provide full details of this to your solicitor as this can entitle you to a free or reduced-cost legal representation should it come to a court settlement.

How can a solicitor help?

A professional solicitor can provide information on how likely your claim is to succeed and what you may be able to claim in compensation. They will explain the legal process involved in taking the claim further and will discuss with you how you can fund your case. They are here to provide useful advice and to help you so don’t be frightened of asking them questions.

There is no longer any legal aid given for personal injury claims in the UK, however if your case is successful then the respondent should pay most of the basic legal costs. If your solicitor is operating under a ‘no win no fee’ arrangement you will have to pay a fee to the solicitor should you win as this is not covered by the respondent.

Should you lose the claim your solicitor will then discuss with you your various options and will explain whether or not you may have to pay your opponents fees or your own solicitor’s costs. Your solicitor should be helpful and cooperative throughout the entire process, explaining to you the various costs and whether or not you will be required to pay them.

Unfortunately not all personal injury claims are successful so it is really dependent on the experience of the solicitor and the validity of the claim. Professional and experienced solicitors will be able to help you to gather all the necessary evidence to help you to make a successful claim in the event that it becomes a court matter.

Stephen Byron is a former independent financial advisor and continues to take an interest in legal and financial news on behalf of George Ide, an independent full service law firm with almost 50 years experience.