Can a claim be made by the widow or family of a person who suffered an injury or disease?
Yes. It is often possible for relatives and dependants to bring an action on behalf of a deceased’s estate and certain dependants may be able to claim for loss of dependency.
Can I still claim if my opponent has gone out of business?
Yes, if their insurers can be traced it is possible to apply to the court for the company to be “restored” so that it can be sued and compensation obtained.
Can offers to settle be made before a Court hearing?
Either side can make a formal offer to settle the claim, either before Court proceedings are started, or at any time up to the trail. Some cases settle at the door of the Court room itself.
A formal offer to settle is usually known as a “Part 36” offer or payment. These offers can be made over the issue of liability or the amount or “quantum” of your compensation (“damages”).
Such offers require careful consideration and advice from a lawyer because there are special rules about who pays for the cost of court proceedings that continue after a part 36 offer has been made. If you do carry on with the Court proceedings and do not beat a “Part 36 Offer” then you may be ordered by the Court to pay your opponent’s legal costs.
Have I got a good claim?
To obtain an award of compensation in a civil case you have to prove that your opponent is at fault. This will usually involve proving that they have been negligent or have breached statutory duties. This is known as establishing “liability”.
The issue of liability is determined on “the balance of probabilities”, that is to say, you must prove that your injury has at least probably been caused by your opponent.
You also have to show that you suffered “damage” as a result of your opponent’s lack of care. “Damage” is the physical injury that you have suffered. A medical report will be required to prove that you have suffered an injury and the extent of that injury.
We will provide you with our as best an indication of your prospects of success as early as we can. However detailed medical evidence may well have to be obtained before we can give an opinion.
How long will my claim take?
This depends on:
- whether your opponent disputes whether they are to blame for your injury (this is known as the issue of “liability”).
- how serious your injury is and the extent of your disability.
Generally, for less serious conditions, where liability is admitted, your claim could be concluded in around 12 to 18 months from the date we commence work. For serious conditions, or where liability is disputed, the claim may take several years.
Sometimes if is possible to apply for an “Interim payment” after a court action has begun but before the case is finally determined. This is an early payment of part of the damages that your opponent will be liable to pay. However such an award is comparatively rare and usually only made in cases in which the final damages are likely to be high.
How much compensation will I get?
The more severe your medical problems, the more damages you will get. A lot depends on the extent of your disability and whether your condition is likely to progress to a more serious level.
As a yardstick we consult our extensive library of previous cases to see what compensation the courts have awarded in cases similar to your own. We also look at “Judicial Studies Board Guidelines”. These give an approximate indication of the level of compensation that you will receive for the pain, suffering and disability that you suffer as a result of your condition. This element of your compensation is known as “general damages”.
You may also receive compensation for financial losses and expenses that you have incurred directly, or indirectly as a consequence of your illness. This will include out of pocket expenses such as travel to the hospital, loss of earnings and many other monetary claims that can be quantified. This additional compensation is known as “special damages”. This compensation may be extensive and can include estimates of future expenses (such as future nursing care, and the cost of alterations to your home to help you cope with a disability).
Whatever injury you are suffering from, we will consider all potential types of compensation that you can claim, (referred to as “heads of damages”), and use our expertise to maximise your award.
How much will my claim cost?
We will advise you on the various funding options available to you at your first appointment however we will usually deal with claims on a No Win No Fee basis.
You will not be asked to sign any credit agreement or loan agreement.
When should I make a claim?
There are strict time limits during which a claim for compensation must be made. A person usually only has 3 years to start court proceedings from the date of their accident.
If the claim is for an industrial disease then the claimant will usually have 3 years from the date that they become aware they are suffering from a significant injury or disease caused by their work.
In some cases the courts may waive this 3-year time limit if you can show that you had a good reason why you did not pursue your claim earlier. So it is worth discussing a possible claim even if you think you may be outside the 3 year claim period (which lawyers refer to as “limitation period”).
As soon as you think that you may be suffering from an injury or disease you should seek legal advice immediately!
Will I have to go to Court?
Most claims for compensation for personal injuries are settled without a formal court hearing. So it is unlikely that you will find yourself in a witness box. However, it may be necessary to “commence Court proceedings”, (that is to say, start a Court case), in to protect your position. Most of these Court proceedings are dealt with by paperwork and there are set rules laying down the procedure to follow. The great majority of cases settle without the case proceeding to a full hearing.
Will my compensation be adjusted if my illness gets worse?
If it is likely that your condition will seriously deteriorate some time in the future then you may be able to get a special type of compensation called “provisional damages”.
An award of provisional damages allows you to go back to court for more compensation should your injury/disease worsen. The choice of whether to ask for provisional damages or a final set amount of compensation is up to you. A final award can be made under which you will receive compensation both for your current condition and for the risk of a future deterioration in your condition. If you are young and have a minor injury/disease it might be best to ask for provisional damages. However, if you are older and suffering from a serious disease you may prefer to claim a final award based on an estimate of future injury.