Guide to Personal Injury Lawyers and the Personal Injury Claim

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Guide to Personal Injury Lawyers and the Personal Injury Claim Powered By Docstoc
					          Guide to
  Personal Injury Lawyers
           and the
Personal Injury Claim Process

1.     What is a personal injury?
2.	    What	should	I	do	first	if	I	suffer	a	personal	injury?	
3.     What does a personal injury lawyer do?
4.     How much will I get?
5.     How do I choose a good personal injury lawyer?
6.	    Do	I	have	to	pay	for	a	personal	injury	lawyer?	
7.	    What	is	the	procedure	for	a	personal	injury	claim?	
8.	    What	will	my	personal	injury	lawyer	need	from	me?	
9.     How will my personal injury lawyer help me?
10.	   I	am	the	relative	of	someone	who	died	as	a	result	of	negligence,	what	should	I	do?
11.    What is an ‘interim payment’?
12.	   Can	I	claim	for	personal	injury	if	my	accident	happened	at	work?	
13.	   How	do	I	decide	if	I	should	claim	against	my	employer?	
14.	   What	should	I	do	if	I	suffer	an	injury	or	accident	at	work?	
15.	   I	think	I	have	Repetitive	Strain	Injury,	can	I	claim?	
16.	   Can	I	claim	if	I	have	a	road	accident?	
17.	   I	was	involved	in	a	road	accident,	what	else	do	I	need	to	do?	
18.	   I	fell	over	on	a	wet	floor	in	a	supermarket,	can	I	claim?
19.	   Can	I	claim	for	stress	caused	by	harassment	or	bullying	at	work?
20.	   What	is	a	Special	Compensation	Scheme?
21.	   Will	I	have	to	pay	for	medical	reports?
22.	   What	happens	if	I	am	injured	as	a	result	of	a	criminal	act?	
23.	   What	should	I	do	if	I	am	injured	as	a	result	of	criminal	negligence?	
24.	   I	think	I	may	be	a	victim	of	medical	negligence,	what	should	I	do?
25.    Who regulates the personal injury claims industry?
26.	   Useful	contact	details	

About this Guide
At	Personal	Injury	Supermarket,	our	goal	is	to	provide	easy-to-understand	advice	on	
the	personal	injury	claims	process,	along	with	hints	and	tips	on	what	to	look	for	when	
searching	for	a	personal	injury	lawyer.	The	aim	of	this	Guide	is	to	provide	you	with	a	basic	
understanding	of	the	claims	process,	and	to	achieve	that	in	a	clear	and	simple	way	we	
have	purposely	avoided	‘legal	speak’.	We	should	stress	though,	that	this	Guide	is	in	no	way	
intended	to	replace	professional	legal	advice,	and	it	has	not	been	written	by	lawyers.	We	
hope	you	find	it	helpful.
We’ve	all	seen	the	adverts	on	the	TV,	and	heard	stories	about	‘ambulance	chasers’.	But	
if	you	suffer	an	injury	that	was	not	your	fault	-	and	which	affects	your	quality	of	life	and/
or	results	in	you	being	unable	to	work	–	surely	it’s	only	fair	that	you	get	some	form	of	
compensation	to	support	you	and	your	family	while	you	recover,	or	even	long	term	if	
Personal	injury	law	is	complicated,	but	with	the	right	advice,	making	a	claim	can	be	quite	
simple.	The	reality	is	that	over	three	million	people	are	injured	in	accidents	every	year	and	
in	many	cases	it	was	someone	else’s	fault,	so	the	victim	has	a	right	to	compensation.	This	
guide	will	tell	you	everything	you	need	to	know	about	finding	a	personal	injury	lawyer	and	
going	through	the	process	of	claiming,	as	well	as	providing	advice	on	exactly	what	might	be	
classed as a ‘personal injury’.

1.     What is a personal injury?
As	mentioned	above,	a	personal	injury	can	be	pretty	much	anything	which	affects	your	
quality	of	life	and/or	your	ability	to	work.	Anything	in	fact	which	results	in	a	situation	
where	you	need	some	form	of	financial	support	or	compensation	to	make	your	life	more	
manageable	after	an	accident,	or	to	support	you	and	your	family	as	you	recover.
The	key	thing	to	note	though,	is	that	the	accident	must	not	have	been	your	fault,	and	you	
must	be	able	to	identify	whose	fault	it	was,	whether	that	is	an	individual	or	an	organisation	
–	for	example	in	the	case	of	employer	negligence,	or	failure	of	a	local	authority	to	maintain	
a	footpath	properly.	The	other	aspect	of	a	personal	injury	claim	is	the	ability	to	claim	for	
someone	else’s	‘personal	injury’	if	they	die	as	a	result.	We’ll	talk	more	about	that	later	on.
The	list	of	what	classes	as	a	personal	injury	is	pretty	much	endless,	but	in	general	it	is	
anything	that	means	you	cannot	work	and	so	earn	money	to	live,	or	that	your	quality	of	
life	is	negatively	affected.	Generally	this	means	a	physical	injury,	but	it	could	be	something	
which	causes	a	psychological	‘injury’	as	well.	Typical	examples	would	include	a	car	accident,	
an	injury	at	work	or	an	accident	in	a	public	place	such	as	a	supermarket.	More	unusual	
claims	might	include	medical	negligence	or	psychological	trauma,	with	something	like	Post	
Traumatic	Stress	Disorder	probably	being	the	best	known.

                                                                                                Page 3

   2.	    What	should	I	do	first	if	I	suffer	a	personal	injury?
   There	are	five	main	things	that	you	should	do	as	soon	as	you	suffer	an	accident	which	you	
   were	not	responsible	for:
     1. Witnesses	–	Look	around	for	witnesses	and	ask	someone	to	either	take	a	statement	
        then	and	there,	or	take	their	contact	details	so	one	can	be	taken	later.	Make	sure	you	
        get	their	contact	details	either	way,	so	that	you	can	ask	them	to	support	your	claim	at	
        a	later	date	if	needs	be.	This	is	a	difficult	one	if	the	accident	is	quite	serious	and	you	
        are	not	thinking	straight,	but	it	can	make	a	real	difference!
     2. Photographs	–	If	possible,	take	photos	of	the	scene	of	the	accident,	or	ask	someone	
        else	to	–	for	example	to	show	a	spill	on	the	floor	in	a	supermarket,	or	the	details	
        of	a	car	accident.	Happily,	with	the	invention	of	the	camera	phone	this	is	much	
        easier	these	days,	and	many	cases	have	been	far	more	easily	resolved	as	a	result	of	
        photographic,	or	even	video	evidence,	captured	at	the	scene	of	an	accident.
     3. Seek medical advice	–	Go	to	a	doctor	as	soon	as	possible	afterwards	so	that	your	
        injury	can	be	documented	for	future	reference.	Even	if	you	feel	your	injuries	are	only	
        minor,	it’s	still	worth	doing	this	as	symptoms	can	develop	later,	and	if	you	are	going	
        to	make	a	claim	you	will	need	to	prove	that	the	injury	was	sustained	as	a	result	of	the	
        accident	and	not	afterwards.	Better	not	to	have	any	‘grey	areas’	at	all	which	means	
        the	person	whose	fault	it	is	could	try	to	imply	that	your	injury	happened	afterwards,	
        or	before,	and	was	not	related	specifically	to	something	which	they	did.
     4. Counselling and support	–	Contact	an	organisation	that	can	offer	counselling	and	
        support.	There	are	two	reasons	here	–	firstly,	the	support	will	be	genuinely	valuable	
        if	you	are	traumatised	in	any	way	and	secondly	because	it	will	mean	that	an	expert	
        has	a	chance	to	assess	you	from	a	psychological	point	of	view,	and	document	their	
        findings,	not	just	from	a	clinical	point	of	view.	The	more	evidence	you	can	present	
        about	how	the	accident	or	injury	has	affected	your	life,	the	better.
     5. Find a Personal injury Lawyer	–	Find	yourself	a	good	personal	injury	lawyer.	And	this	
        of	course	is	where comes in.

   3.     What does a personal injury lawyer do?
   If	you	decide	to	hire	a	personal	injury	lawyer,	the	main	purpose	of	doing	so	is	so	that	you	
   can	claim	financial	compensation.	This	is	to	‘compensate’	you	for	reduced	quality	of	life,	
   loss	of	earnings	and/or	additional	costs	incurred	as	a	result	of	the	accident.	This	can	also	
   relate	to	your	dependants,	for	example,	if	they	suffer	because	you	cannot	work	and	earn	
   money.	The	role	of	the	personal	injury	lawyer	is	to	guide	you	through	the	process,	help	you	
   to	agree	the	figure	to	claim	and	ultimately	help	you	to	receive	the	compensation,	either	
   through	a	court	case	or	through	what	is	known	as	an	‘out	of	court	settlement’.

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4.     How much will I get?
There	are	no	hard	and	fast	rules,	not	even	based	on	specific	types	of	injury.	Every	case	
is	different,	and	your	personal	injury	lawyer	will	help	you	to	decide	what	a	reasonable	
amount	to	claim	for	is.	Depending	on	the	severity	of	the	accident,	it	is	possible	that	
the	exact	figure	will	not	be	able	to	be	worked	out	quickly,	as	it	may	be	many	weeks	or	
months	or	even	years	before	the	effect	which	the	injury	has	on	you	and	your	family	is	fully	
understood.	In	these	cases,	you	are	relying	on	the	experience	of	your	lawyer	to	determine	
how	much	they	think	you	should	claim	for,	and	to	justify	that	figure	to	the	other	party.

5.     How do I choose a good personal injury lawyer?
The	purpose	of	our	website	at is to help you decide
which	lawyer	is	best	for	you,	based	on	the	ratings	which	their	customers	have	given	them.	
However,	there	are	a	number	of	other	things	you	should	do	as	well.	These	include:
•	 Getting	recommendations	from	friends	and	family
•	 Searching	on	Google	for	personal	injury	lawyers	in	your	local	area
•	 Looking	for	a	law	firm	that	specialises	in	your	specific	type	of	injury	or	accident
Once	you	have	made	a	shortlist,	it’s	a	good	idea	to	meet	with	two	or	three	different	ones	
so	you	can	find	out	more	about	them	and	see	if	you	think	you	can	work	with	them.	Before	
doing	so	though,	make	sure	you	ask	whether	they	charge	a	fee	for	this	initial	‘consultation’.	
Usually	it	is	free,	so	there	is	a	lot	of	sense	in	choosing	firms	which	do	not	charge.	It	also	
bodes	well	for	the	future	in	terms	of	a	fair	charging	structure!	Some	questions	to	ask	at	this	
stage	include:
•	 Do	they	operate	on	a	‘no	win,	no	fee’	basis?
•	 How	long	they	have	been	working	in	the	personal	injury	arena,	if	they	are	not	a	
   specialist in this area.
•	 How	much	compensation	they	would	expect	to	claim	for,	and	for	you	to	receive,	based	
   on	the	information	they	have	so	far	–	even	a	ballpark	figure	at	this	stage	is	useful	as	a	
•	 How	much	trial	experience	they	have,	as	some	lawyers	have	only	ever	settled	out	
   of	court	–	but	bear	in	mind	that	this	means	they	could	be	experts	at	out	of	court	
•	 How	much	insurance	they	would	expect	you	to	take	out	to	cover	the	other	party’s	costs	
   if	they	lose,	and	how	much	this	will	cost	you.	We’ll	talk	more	about	insurance	later	on.
It’s	also	worth	checking	the	Ministry	of	Justice’s	Claims	Management	Regulation	website	at	to	see	if	there	are	any	known	scams	in	your	area	which	might	affect	
your decision.

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   6.	    Do	I	have	to	pay	for	a	personal	injury	lawyer?
   Most	personal	injury	lawyers	work	on	what	is	known	as	a	Conditional	Fee	Arrangement,	
   otherwise	known	as	‘no	win,	no	fee’	basis,	as	seen	on	TV.	This	protects	you	if	you	lose	your	
   case	for	any	reason,	as	you	will	not	incur	any	costs	for	you	own	legal	support.
   Having	said	that,	if	you	lose,	you	may	still	be	liable	for	the	other	party’s	legal	fees	and	
   expenses,	so	be	careful	to	check	your	lawyer’s	Terms	and	Conditions.	Many	will	ask	you	to	
   take	out	an	insurance policy to cover the other party’s costs.
   Assuming	you	win,	as	we	hope	you	do,	there	are	two	possible	methods	of	payment:
   a)	 Where	the	lawyer	takes	a	percentage	of	anything	you	win
   b)	 Where	the	lawyer	adds	a	figure	to	the	claim	up	front	to	cover	their	costs	
   The	latter	is	becoming	more	common	and	there	are	many	TV	adverts	around	today	which	
   state	that	you	will	‘receive	100%	of	your	claim’.	Which	is	possible	because	your	lawyer	is	
   claiming	separately	for	their	fee.	Although	arguably	this	could	simply	be	a	different	way	
   of	dividing	up	the	‘compensation	pot’,	so	it’s	not	a	certainty	that	this	option	is	better	in	
   the	long	run.	It	is	well	worth	talking	to	companies	that	offer	different	options,	so	you	can	
   choose	which	one	you	feel	most	comfortable	with.
   If	you	win,	the	figure	you	pay	will	vary	from	firm	to	firm.	All	personal	injury	lawyers	agree	
   their	fees	with	you	before	they	represent	you,	so	that	you	know	exactly	how	they	plan	
   on	recovering	them.	Sometimes,	if	they	can’t	recover	all	of	their	fees	on	top	of	your	
   compensation,	they	will	agree	to	waive	the	difference.	Or	others	may	ask	you	for	the	
   difference,	so	it’s	important	to	know	exactly	where	you	stand	from	the	start.	

   7.	    What	is	the	procedure	for	a	personal	injury	claim?
   Stage 1
   a)	 You	need	to	find	and	then	consult	with	a	personal	injury	lawyer.
   b)	 Your	lawyer	will	send	a	‘Letter	of	Claim’ to the other party which states that you intend
       to	claim	compensation	for	injuries	cause	by	their	negligence.
   c)	 A	medical	expert	will	assess	your	injuries	or	assess	the	medical	records	from	the	time	of	
       the accident.
   d)	 Your	lawyer	will	help	you	to	determine	what	financial	losses	you	have	suffered	as	a	
       result	of	the	injury	and	will	then	create	what	is	known	as	a	‘Schedule	of	Losses’.
   e)	 A	letter	is	then	sent	to	the	other	party,	asking	them	to	pay	the	figure	you	and	your	
       lawyer have calculated.
   Stage 2
   a)	 If	the	other	party	accepts	your	claim,	your	personal	injury	lawyer	will	negotiate	the	best	
       compensation	possible,	and	also	their	fees.
   b)	 The	claim	will	then	be	settled,	you	will	receive	your	compensation	and	the	lawyer	will	
       receive their costs.

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c)	 If	the	other	party	disputes	your	claim	and	an	agreement	cannot	be	reached	‘out	of	
    court’,	then	the	case	will	go	to	court.
Stage 3
a)	 If	you	win	the	case,	you	will	receive	the	compensation	you	claimed	for,	though	the	
    amount	may	be	altered	to	take	your	lawyer’s	fees	and	the	court	costs	into	account,	
    depending	on	what	arrangement	you	agreed	initially.
b)	 If	you	lose	the	case,	you	will	have	to	pay	the	other	party’s	costs	and	fees,	which	should	
    be	covered	by	the	insurance policy which your personal injury lawyer may have
    recommended	that	you	take	out.

8.	    What	will	my	personal	injury	lawyer	need	from	me?
The	more	information	that	you	can	give	your	lawyer	the	better	prepared	they	will	be,	and	
so	more	able	to	help	you	effectively.	You	will	need	to	provide	the	following:
•	 Date	–	The	date	of	the	accident	and	where	and	how	it	happened,	plus	any	photographic	
   evidence	and	the	personal	account	which	you	(hopefully!)	wrote	soon	afterwards.
•	 Witnesses	–	Contact	details	for	any	witnesses,	and	any	witness	statement	you	have	
   already gathered.
•	 Injuries	–	Details	of	your	injuries,	the	medical	report	and	any	treatment	to	date	or	
   ongoing treatment plans.
•	 Loss	–	Proof	of	your	loss	of	earnings	from	your	employer,	or	from	other	means,	which	
   demonstrate	the	‘loss’	–	e.g.	the	money	you	were	not	able	to	earn	due	to	your	injury.
•	 Expenses	–	Details	of	expenses	which	have	been	incurred	as	a	result	of	your	injury/
   inability	to	work,	for	example	childcare,	different	modes	of	transport,	home	adaptations	
•	 Past claims	–	Any	documented	evidence	of	previous	accidents	involving	other	people	
   in	similar	circumstances.	For	example,	an	earlier	claim	relating	to	the	same	uneven	
•	 Pre-incident records	–	Any	documents	from	before	your	accident	which	might	be	
   relevant	–	for	example	an	email	to	your	employer	stating	that	you	have	not	been	
   trained	to	use	a	piece	of	equipment	that	they	are	insisting	you	use.

9.     How will my personal injury lawyer help me?
The	first	thing	to	do	is	to	explain	everything	in	detail	and	to	pass	on	all	of	the	documents	
they	have	requested.	From	this	information,	it	is	likely	that	your	lawyer	will	be	able	to	tell	
you	straight	away	how	likely	your	case	is	to	succeed	and	roughly	how	much	you	might	be	
able	to	claim	in	compensation.	Better	to	know	up	front	if	they	feel	it	is	not	worth	the	time	
and	effort	in	pursuing	the	case.	An	experienced	personal	injury	lawyer	will	be	honest	about	
this,	and	won’t	just	take	on	a	case	which	they	know	you	have	no	chance	of	winning.

                                                                                            Page 7

   Your	lawyer	will	then	explain	the	legal	processes	involved	in	taking	your	claim	further,	and	
   discuss	how	exactly	your	case	will	be	funded.	It’s	a	good	idea	to	take	notes	and	also	to	take	
   someone	with	you	who	may	hear	things	that	you	miss,	or	ask	questions	that	you	don’t	
   think	of.	Make	sure	that	you	ask	your	lawyer	to	send	you	a	letter	summarising	the	advice	
   they	have	given	you.	This	letter	should	state:
   •	 That	they	are	happy	to	take	your	case
   •	 The	name	and	status	of	the	lawyer,	or	other	person	within	the	firm,	who	will	be	your	
      main	point	of	contact	on	a	day-to-day	basis
   •	 How	long	they	think	the	process	is	likely	to	take	
   •	 How	often	you	will	receive	progress	reports
   •	 How	the	case	is	being	funded
   •	 Details	of	any	more	information	you	need	to	provide	
   •	 What	you	should	do	if	you	are	not	happy	about	the	way	your	case	is	progressing

   10.	 I	am	the	relative	of	someone	who	died	as	a	result	of	
   negligence, what should I do?
   The	procedure	is	basically	the	same	as	if	you	were	the	person	who	was	injured.	You	are	
   entitled	to	claim	compensation	if	you	will	suffer	financial	loss	as	a	result	of	the	person	
   dying.	For	example	a	father	who	was	the	main	wage	earner	within	a	family.	
   Lawyers	who	are	specialists	in	this	field	will	be	able	to	help	you	to	claim	compensation	for	
   any	suffering,	distress	and	pain	which	the	person	suffered	and	for	personal	losses	from	the	
   time	of	the	injury	to	their	death,	including	funeral	expenses.	You	can	also	claim	for	any	loss	
   of	financial	support	since	the	person’s	death.	Start	the	process	as	soon	as	you	feel	able,	the	
   sooner	the	better,	and	follow	all	of	the	same	steps	as	outlined	for	other	types	of	personal	
   injury claims.

   11. What is an ‘interim payment’?
   This	is	a	payment	which	you	may	be	able	to	arrange	as	a	‘partial	settlement’	of	your	claim	
   for	compensation.	For	example,	say	you	had	a	car	accident	and	your	car	was	written	off,	
   and	you	also	suffered	a	personal	injury.	As	part	of	the	claim,	the	other	party’s	insurer	may	
   agree	to	send	you	a	payment	to	cover	the	cost	of	a	new	car,	or	car	hire,	so	you	can	at	least	
   go	back	to	work	(if	you	are	fit	enough)	and	so	reduce	your	‘loss	of	earnings’.	The	case	then	
   remains	open	until	the	personal	injury	claim	has	been	settled	as	well,	at	which	time	you	will	
   receive	a	separate	payment	–	if	you	won	of	course.
   Another	example	of	a	situation	where	an	interim	payment	might	be	needed	is	if	an	injury	
   was	very	serious	and	you	need	to	pay	for	private	rehabilitation	costs,	or	have	your	house	
   adapted	to	suit	your	new	needs.	In	this	case,	an	interim	payment	may	be	agreed	to	help	
   you	with	your	recovery,	while	the	main	claim	is	still	being	considered.

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12.	 Can	I	claim	for	personal	injury	if	my	accident	happened	
at work?
Most	definitely,	although	in	this	case	you	would	be	claiming	against	your	employer	(or	
more	accurately	your	employer’s	insurance)	rather	than	an	individual.	More	than	a	
million	people	have	accidents	at	work	each	year.	Many	are	minor	but	some	have	serious	
consequences	and	can	result	in	the	victim	not	being	able	to	work	again,	or	being	out	of	
work	for	a	long	period	of	time.	A	personal	injury	lawyer	will	be	able	to	help	you	get	the	
compensation	you	need,	as	well	as	giving	advice	on	how	to	handle	what	may	well	become	a	
contentious	situation	with	your	employer.
Laws	for	employers	set	out	many	rules	to	protect	employees	from	accidents	at	work.	You	
are	entitled	to	compensation	if	you	can	prove	that	the	accident	was	someone	else’s	fault	
–	and	this	could	be	your	employer,	a	fellow	employee	or	another	company	that	is	based	
where	you	work.	It’s	very	important	to	remember	that	your	employer	is	not	allowed	to	
treat	you	unfairly	or	dismiss	you	for	making	a	workplace	accident	claim.	
They	are	also	legally	required	to	have	insurance	against	staff	accidents,	which	means	that	
their	insurance	company	will	pay	your	accident	compensation,	not	your	employer.	In	effect	
what	this	means	is	that	the	company	will	not	suffer	financially	from	the	payment	to	you	–	
although their insurance premiums might go up.

13.	 How	do	I	decide	if	I	should	claim	against	my	employer?
There	are	a	wide	range	of	situationswhich	can	lead	to	personal	injury	claims	in	the	
workplace.	These	include	things	like:
•	 Being	made	to	use	unsuitable	or	damaged	equipment	
•	 An	unsafe	system	of	work	or	dangerous	working	practices
•	 Contact with hazardous materials
•	 Poor	Health	&	Safety	standards
•	 Insufficient	training	in	the	use	of	equipment
If	an	instance	such	as	one	of	these	causes	you	to	hurt	yourself	–	especially	if	you	have	
previously	made	a	point	of	flagging	up	an	issue,	such	as	lack	of	training	on	a	particular	piece	
of	equipment	for	example	–	then	you	are	definitely	entitled	to	make	a	claim	for	personal	
injury against your employer.

                                                                                            Page 9

   14.	 What	should	I	do	if	I	suffer	an	injury	or	accident	at	
   If	an	accident	occurs	at	work,	everything	outlined	in	Section	2	still	applies,	especially	in	
   relation	to	witness	statements	and	photographs.	However,	you	should	also	make	sure	that	
   the	incident	is	recorded	in	the	company’s	accident	book.	If	your	employer	does	not	have	
   one,	write	down	all	the	details	of	the	accident	as	soon	as	possible	afterwards,	send	them	to	
   your	line	manager	and	the	HR	Manager	(if	there	is	one)	and	keep	a	copy	for	yourself.	
   As	soon	as	you	decide	that	you	are	going	to	claim	against	the	company	for	personal	injury,	
   you	should	inform	your	line	manager	and	your	HR	Manager.	It	is	also	worth	taking	some	
   employment	law	advice	at	this	point,	as	there	are	certain	rules	which	companies	must	
   follow	in	these	situations,	and	certain	rights	which	you	have.	Your	personal	injury	lawyer	
   will	be	able	to	advise	you	on	all	of	this	in	more	detail.

   15.	 I	think	I	have	Repetitive	Strain	Injury,	can	I	claim?
   Repetitive	Strain	Injury	(RSI)	is	a	common	workplace	injury	and	is	definitely	something	
   which	you	can	claim	personal	injury	compensation	for,	depending	on	the	circumstances	
   and	whether	you	can	prove	that	your	employer’s	negligence	led	to	it	occurring.	RSI	affects	
   thousands	of	people	every	year	and	is	caused	by	repeated	movements	that	damage	
   tendons,	nerves	and	other	soft	body	tissues.	It	can	affect	sufferers	in	different	ways,	but	at	
   its	worst	it	can	be	a	debilitating	condition	that	can	have	a	significant	impact	on	both	work	
   and	family	life.
   The	term	RSI	covers	a	number	of	related	conditions	including	carpal	tunnel	syndrome,	
   tendonitis	and	tenosynovitis.	Symptoms	typically	appear	within	six	months	and	include	
   pain,	stiffness,	swelling,	numbness	or	tingling	in	the	hands,	wrists,	fingers,	forearms,	
   elbows,	shoulders,	back	or	neck	–	as	well	as	loss	of	strength	and	coordination	in	the	hands,	
   and	discomfort	when	carrying	out	a	particular	task,	which	disappears	when	you	stop!	The	
   damage	done	through	RSI	can	be	serious	and	even	permanently	disabling	and	it	is	your	
   employer’s	responsibility	to	make	sure	that	your	job	does	not	cause	it.
   Because	RSI	usually	begins	with	a	slight	ache	every	now	and	then,	people	often	ignore	it	
   to	start	with.	However,	as	time	passes	and	the	damage	continues,	it	becomes	more	severe	
   until	you	feel	it	even	when	you	are	not	performing	the	repetitive	activity.	RSI	can	also	be	
   caused	by	poor	posture,	stress	and	not	taking	enough	work	breaks,	and	whilst	it	is	most	
   commonly	associated	with	people	who	work	on	computers,	many	other	people	can	also	
   suffer	from	it	–	for	example	factory	assembly	line	workers,	musicians	and	dressmakers	are	
   often	sufferers.	
   The	bottom	line	is,	if	you	think	you	might	have	RSI,	tell	your	employer	straight	away	and	
   it	is	then	up	to	them	to	make	sure	that	your	job	does	not	make	it	any	worse.	Go	and	see	
   a	doctor	at	the	same	time	to	see	what	they	recommend,	and	then	advise	your	employer	
   accordingly.	If	your	employer	insists	that	you	continue	with	the	activity	that	is	causing	the	
   problem,	then	they	are	at	fault.

Page 10

16.	 Can	I	claim	if	I	have	a	road	accident?
These	are	one	of	the	most	common	causes	of	personal	injury.	If	you’ve	been	involved	in	
a	road	traffic	accident	then	a	personal	injury	lawyer	can	help	you	claim	compensation,	
whether	your	injury	is	anything	from	bruising	and	cuts	through	to	whiplash	or	an	even	
more	serious	injury.	They	can	also	help	with	compensation	claims	from	relatives	where	
a	fatal	road	accident	has	occurred.	Remember	though,	if	you’ve	been	involved	in	a	road	
accident	of	any	kind,	you	must	report	it	to	the	police	as	well.
It	is	every	road	user’s	duty	to	make	sure	they	drive	carefully,	consider	other	road	users	
and	are	safe	to	be	on	the	roads.	However,	accidents	do	occur	and	the	most	common	ones	
are	caused	by	drivers	who	drive	too	fast,	don’t	look	properly	at	junctions,	don’t	brake	fast	
enough	(or	at	all),	ignore	traffic	signals	and	road	signs,	or	don’t	control	the	vehicle	properly	
because	they	are	using	mobile	phones	or	are	distracted	in	some	other	way.	You	can	make	a	
claim	after	a	road	accident	whether	you	were	a	driver,	a	passenger,	a	motorcyclist,	a	pedal	
cyclist	or	even	a	pedestrian!

17. I was involved in a road accident, what else do I need
to do?
Again,	everything	in	Section	2	still	applies,	especially	in	relation	to	witnesses	and	taking	
photographs.	Depending	on	the	severity	of	the	accident,	the	police	may	be	involved,	in	
which	case	they	will	carry	out	much	of	this	activity,	which	is	useful	if	you	are	too	injured	
to	do	so.	As	with	all	car	accidents,	you	will	also	need	to	inform	your	insurance	company	as	
soon	as	possible,	and	provide	them	with	the	case	reference	number	from	the	police	if	one	
is	generated.	It	is	also	recommended	that	you	write	your	own	account	of	the	accident	while	
it	is	fresh	in	your	mind	and	keep	this	along	with	witness	statements	and	photographs.	Your	
personal	injury	lawyer	will	want	as	much	evidence	as	possible	at	the	start	of	the	claim.

18.	 I	fell	over	on	a	wet	floor	in	a	supermarket,	can	I	claim?
Very	possibly.	OK,	so	you	should	have	been	looking	where	you	were	going,	but	it’s	also	the	
supermarket’s	responsibility	to	make	sure	there	are	no	wet	patches	on	their	floors,	which	
people	might	slip	on.	The	reality	is	that	every	occupier	of	land	or	buildings,	whether	it’s	a	
shop,	office,	leisure	club,	park,	factory	or	even	public	transport	has	what	is	known	as	a	‘duty	
to	care	for	visitors’	safety’.	Accidents	do	happen	though	and	these	types	of	organisation	are	
usually	covered	by	Public	Liability	Insurance	when	this	happens.
‘Public	liability’	is	when	someone	hurts	themselves	because	another	person	or	organisation	
has	neglected	this	duty.	If	you	have	an	accident	that	isn’t	your	fault	in	a	public	place,	then	
you	may	be	entitled	to	claim	compensation	against	their	public	liability.	The	most	common	
type	of	claim	is	indeed	for	a	slip	or	trip,	and	these	can	be	caused	by	spillages	that	leave	
floors	slippery,	by	obstructions	or	by	badly	kept	paths	and	roads.	

                                                                                            Page 11

   To	get	compensation	for	a	personal	injury	in	this	instance,	you	have	to	show	that	the	
   organisation	responsible	for	maintaining	the	property	or	outside	space	was	negligent.	For	
   example,	you	can	make	a	public	liability	claim	against	a	shop	or	bank	if	you	slip	on	water	
   left	on	the	floor.	If	your	accident	is	on	council-owned	property,	such	as	a	public	footpath	or	
   a	school,	then	you	can	make	a	public	liability	claim	against	the	local	authority.	The	key	thing	
   is	to	determine	who	was	responsible	for	your	accident	and	to	prove	that	it	was	caused	by	
   their	negligence	–	for	example	in	the	case	of	a	damaged	paving	slab	which	caused	you	to	
   trip up.

   19.	 Can	I	claim	for	stress	caused	by	harassment	or	bullying	
   at work?
   This	can	be	a	complex	personal	injury	claim	as	it	is	often	hard	to	prove	compared	to	say,	a	
   physical	injury	like	a	broken	arm	which	is	very	easy	to	see.	Having	said	that,	Acts	such	as	the	
   Employment	Rights	Act	1996	and	the	Harassment	Act	1997	give	you	the	right	to	pursue	a	
   personal	injury	claim	for	these	types	of	cases.
   Most	people	are	aware	that	they	can	take	action	against	an	employer,	or	someone	within	
   the	workplace,	if	a	situation	is	related	to	prejudice	against	age,	sex,	sexual	orientation,	race	
   or	disability.	However,	you	can	claim	for	any	‘harassment’	that	happens	continuously	and	
   is	severe	enough	to	cause	significant	stress,	or	to	cause	you	to	be	away	from	work.	If	your	
   employer	fails	to	stop	the	harassment	or	bullying	then	you	can	take	them	to	court	for	at	
   least	two	criminal	offences,	as	well	as	claiming	for	personal	injury.
   In	addition,	if	the	bullying	or	harassment	causes	you	to	leave	your	job,	you	are	entitled	to	
   claim	for	any	financial	losses	you	have	suffered.	In	these	types	of	cases,	you	have	six	years	
   to	make	a	claim	for	compensation.	Not	all	personal	injury	lawyers	take	on	these	cases,	
   so	it’s	recommended	you	find	a	specialist	as	it	will	significantly	increase	your	chances	of	

   20.	 What	is	a	Special	Compensation	Scheme?
   There	are	a	number	of	special	schemes	around	for	people	who	have	suffered	illness	or	
   injury	as	a	result	of	a	wider	issue	–	for	example	asbestos	or	a	problem	with	a	vaccination.	
   These	are	designed	to	assist	people	when	making	what	is	basically	a	personal	injury	claim,	
   but	where	it	is	not	an	isolated	incidence.	Well	known	issues	include	Thalidomide	in	the	
   1960s	and	people	who	contracted	HIV	from	blood	transfusions	in	the	1990s.	Members	of	
   the	armed	forces	can	also	claim	through	these	types	of	schemes,	specifically	relating	to	
   issues	such	as	Post	Traumatic	Stress	Disorder	and	the	like.	You	can	find	a	full	list	of	current	
   schemes on the	website.	

Page 12

21.	 Will	I	have	to	pay	for	medical	reports?
This	depends	on	the	personal	injury	lawyer	you	appoint.	Initially,	they	will	take	the	case	
based	on	evidence	which	your	doctor	puts	together	after	your	accident,	and	so	anything	
needed	at	this	stage	would	be	covered	by	the	NHS.	However	in	more	serious	cases,	and	
depending	on	the	extent	of	your	injuries,	after	three	to	six	months	you	may	be	required	
to	go	for	a	medical	to	analyse	the	long-term	effects	of	your	injuries.	Some	personal	injury	
lawyers	will	cover	the	cost	of	these	reports,	whereas	others	may	ask	you	to	pay.	Either	way,	
they	will	be	added	to	your	claim,	so	if	you	win,	you	would	get	back	any	fees	you	or	your	
lawyer have paid.

22.	 What	happens	if	I	am	injured	as	a	result	of	a	criminal	
If	you	are	injured	during	a	burglary	for	example,	or	are	a	direct	victim	of	assault,	then	
the	criminal	is	‘at	fault’.	But	of	course	they	will	not	be	able	to	pay	your	compensation.	To	
help	people	in	this	situation,	the	Government	set	up	the	Criminal	Injuries	Compensation	
Authority	(CICA)	–	which	pays	compensation	to	victims	of	violent	crime	and	also	provides	
useful	advice.	For	more	information	visit
To	claim	compensation	for	personal	injury	as	a	result	of	a	violent	crime,	you	have	to	report	
the	incident	to	the	police	as	soon	as	possible	and	then	make	an	application	within	two	
years,	although	this	can	be	extended	in	some	cases.	Again,	your	personal	injury	lawyer	will	
be	able	to	assist	you	with	this	and	can	help	you	to	manage	the	process.	

23.	 What	should	I	do	if	I	am	injured	as	a	result	of	criminal	
If	you	feel	that	the	person	or	organisation	which	caused	your	injury	has	been	criminally	
negligent,	or	has	broken	the	law	in	any	other	way,	you	can	choose	to	take	legal	action	as	
well	as	claiming	compensation.	We	would	always	recommend	that	you	take	proper	legal	
advice	from	a	lawyer	that	specialises	in	whatever	type	of	case	you	are	involved	in.
One	key	thing	to	note	is	that	there	are	strict	time	limits	on	taking	legal	action,	which	vary	
depending	on	the	situation.	For	example,	personal	injury	from	criminal	negligence	has	a	
time	limit	for	legal	action	of	three	years.	This	means	that	court	proceedings	must	be	issued	
within	three	years	of	the	date	of	the	accident.	In	special	cases	these	time	limits	can	be	
extended	by	the	court,	but	you	would	need	to	discuss	this	with	a	specialist	personal	injury	

                                                                                          Page 13

   24.	 I	think	I	may	be	a	victim	of	medical	negligence,	what	
   should I do?
   Millions	of	people	trust	healthcare	workers	such	as	doctors,	dentists,	nurses	and	the	like	
   every	day.	Fortunately,	the	standard	of	healthcare	in	the	UK	is	very	high	and,	in	general,	
   we	trust	these	health	professionals.	However,	things	do	sometimes	go	wrong	and	if	
   this	happens	to	you	then	a	personal	injury	lawyer	can	definitely	help	you	to	claim	for	
   compensation	as	a	result	of	clinical	or	medical	negligence.		
   This	covers	any	situation	where	poor	quality	healthcare	causes	you	pain,	injury	or	mental	
   problems,	or	even	the	death	of	someone	you	love.	It	doesn’t	matter	whether	you	were	an	
   NHS	patient	or	a	private	one	and	it	applies	to	all	kinds	of	treatment	whether	at	a	hospital,	
   a	GP	surgery	or	a	dentist.	Proving	‘medical	negligence’	can	be	difficult	because	you	have	
   to	show	that	your	‘accident’	or	injury	was	caused	by	incompetent	healthcare	or	lack	of	
   judgement,	which	can	be	very	time	consuming	and	complex.
   It	is	sensible	to	choose	a	personal	injury	lawyer	which	specialises	in	medical	negligence	
   claims.	They	will	be	able	to	handle	your	claim	sensitively	and	can	listen	to	your	situation	
   and	help	you	to	decide	what	you	want	to	get	out	of	the	claim.	They	will	also	ensure	that	
   you	get	the	best	possible	advice,	as	well	as	putting	you	in	touch	with	support	groups	that	
   can	help	you,	and	advising	you	about	any	Special	Compensation	Schemes	which	might	exist	
   that	are	relevant	to	your	case.	See	Section	20	for	more	information	on	these.

   25. Who regulates the personal injury claims industry?
   All	personal	injury	lawyers	are	authorised	by	the	Government	and	have	to	abide	by	a	strict	
   set	of	rules	which	cover	things	like	how	they	advise,	how	they	win	business	and	how	they	
   deal	with	and	represent	their	clients.	Make	sure	that	any	lawyer	you	choose	is	properly	
   regulated.	A	directory	of	lawyers	can	be	found	at
   When	you	choose	a	personal	injury	lawyer,	find	out	which	body	they	are	regulated	by	and	
   then	check	their	published	standards	of	conduct,	so	you	know	what	to	expect	from	them.	
   There	are	a	number	of	regulatory	bodies,	which	are	either	voluntary	or	Government-
   appointed.	The	main	ones	are	as	follows:
   •	 Ministry	of	Justice	–
   This	is	a	Government	department	which	monitors	and	enforces	claims	management	
   regulations,	to	improve	standards	within	organisations	that	provide	services	relating	to	
   claims	for	compensation.	Every	personal	injury	lawyer	must	be	authorised	by	the	Ministry	
   of	Justice	unless	they	have	an	exemption	form,	and	anyone	operating	without	authority	can	
   be	prosecuted.	Part	of	the	Ministry	of	Justice	is	the	Claims	Management	Regulation	website	
   –	–	which	provides	more	in-depth	information	on	areas	such	as	
   current	regulations,	known	‘scams’	and	so	on.	

Page 14

•	 Legal Complaints Service	–
This	is	a	service	which	investigates	complaints	about	solicitors	of	all	types,	on	average	
handling over 300 calls a day. Its aim is to help you resolve any complaint you might
have	with	your	personal	injury	lawyer,	and	initially	this	will	be	done	by	encouraging	and	
supporting	you	as	you	try	to	resolve	your	complaint	directly	with	them.	However,	where	
this	is	not	possible,	the	Legal	Complaints	Service	will	investigate	complaints	fairly	and	
will	help	you	and	your	lawyer	to	resolve	your	complaint	together.	If	the	Legal	Complaints	
Service	feels	that	you	have	received	poor	service	from	your	personal	injury	lawyer,	it	can	
also	pressure	them	into	paying	compensation	to	you.
•	 The Law Society	–
This	is	a	society	which	represents	solicitors	in	England	and	Wales.	It	plays	an	active	part	
in	the	current	reform	of	legal	services	and	also	handles	all	regulatory	work.	If	you	are	not	
happy	with	the	level	of	service	you	have	received	from	your	personal	injury	lawyer,	then	
The	Law	Society	can	also	deal	with	complaints.
•	 The	Law	Society	of	Scotland	–
This	is	the	governing	body	for	Scottish	lawyers.	It	promotes	the	interests	of	the	lawyer’s	
profession	in	Scotland	as	well	as	the	interest	of	the	public	in	relation	to	the	profession.	All	
practising	lawyers	in	Scotland	must	be	members	of	the	Society	and	hold	a	valid	Practising	
Certificate	issued	by	the	Law	Society	of	Scotland.
•	 The Claims Standards Council	–
This	is	a	recognised	trade	body	for	the	claims	section	of	the	legal	industry,	although	it	
doesn’t	give	advice	to	consumers	and	is	focused	on	putting	the	interests	of	its	members	
first.	It	advises	the	Department	for	Constitutional	Affairs	(DCA)	on	“authorisation,	
conditions,	monitoring	and	enforcement	arrangements,	and	all	other	aspects	of	the	
regulatory	regime	being	established	under	the	Compensation	Act	2006”.	It	also	reports	on	
the impact which any new rules have on the claims management industry.
•	 The	Association	of	Personal	Injury	Lawyers	–
This	is	an	association	which	exists	to	help	its	members	fight	for	the	rights	of	injured	people.	
It	was	founded	in	April	1990	by	a	group	of	barristers	and	lawyers	who	wanted	to	improve	
the	services	provided	for	victims	of	personal	injury,	and	today	it	has	grown	to	become	a	
trusted	organisation	in	the	promotion,	encouragement	and	development	of	expertise	in	
personal injury law.

                                                                                             Page 15

   26.	 Useful	contact	details
   Law Society                                The	Criminal	Injuries	Compensation	Agency	
   113	Chancery	Lane                          in	Northern	Ireland
   London	WC2A	1PL                            Royston	House
   Tel:	020	7242	1222                         34	Upper	Queen	Street
   Fax:	020	7831	0344                         Belfast	BT1	6FD
   Email:     Tel:	028	9024	9944
   Website:             Fax:	028	9024	6956

   The	Law	Society	of	Northern	Ireland        Action	against	Medical	Accidents	(AvMA)
   Law	Society	House                          44	High	Street
   98	Victoria	Street                         Croydon	CRO	1YB
   Belfast	BT1	3JZ                            Fax:	020	8667	9065
   Tel:	028	9023	1614                         Email:
   Fax:	028	9023	2606                         Website:
   Email:                  Helpline:	08451	23	23	52
                                              Centre	for	Corporate	Accountability	and	
   Association	of	Personal	Injury	Lawyers	    the Work-related Death Advice Service
   (APIL)                                     Fourth	Floor
   11 Castle Quay                             197/199	City	Road
   Nottingham	NG7	1FW                         London	EC1V	1JN
   Tel:	0115	958	0585                         Tel:	020	7490	4494
   Fax:	0115	958	0885                         Fax:	020	7490	7191
   Website:                   Email:
   Helpline:	0870	609	1958                    Website:

   Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS)   Disabled	Living	Foundation
   St	Bartholomews	Court                      380-384	Harrow	Road
   18	Christmas	Street                        London	W9	2HU
   Bristol	BS1	5BT                            Tel:	020	7289	6111
   Tel:	0117	925	9604                         Fax:	020	7266	2922
   Email:                  Email:
   Website:                   Website:
                                              Helpline:	0845	603	9177	–	Monday	to	Friday	
   Criminal	Injuries	Compensation	Authority   10am to 4pm
   Tay	House
   300	Bath	Street                            Regional	Disablement	Services	in	Northern	
   Glasgow	G2	4LN                             Ireland
   Tel:	0141	331	2726/0800	358	3601           Musgrave	Park	Hospital
   Fax:	0141	331	2287                         Green	Park	Hospital	Trust
   Website:                   Stockman’s	Lane
                                              Belfast	BT9	7JB
                                              Tel:	028	9066	9501
                                              Fax:	028	9038	2008

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Disaster	Action                               MIND	Cymru
No	4                                          3rd	Floor
71	Upper	Berkeley	Street                      Quebec	House
London	W1H	7DB                                Castlebridge
Tel:	01483	799066                             5-19	Cowbridge	Road	East
Email:        Cardiff	CF11	9AB
Website:            Tel:	029	2039	5123
                                              Fax:	029	2034	6585
Self-help	groups                              Email:
These	are	some	of	the	main	ones,	but	you	     Helpline:	0845	766	0163	–	Monday	to	Friday	
can	find	the	contact	details	of	many	other	   9.15am to 5.15pm
self-help	groups	at:
                                              NIAMH	(Northern	Ireland	Association	for	
Headway	–	the	brain	injury	association        Mental Health)
Bradbury	House                                Beacon	House
190	Bagnall	Road                              80	University	Street
Old	Basford                                   Belfast	BT7	1HE
Nottingham	NG6	8SF                            Tel:	028	9032	8474
Tel:	0115	924	0800                            Fax:	028	9023	4940
Fax:	0115	958	4446
Email:                Women’s Aid
Helpline:	0808	8002244                        In	England,	contact:
                                              PO	Box	391
Medical	Foundation	for	the	Care	of	Victims	   Bristol	BS99	7WS
of	Torture                                    Website:
111	Isledon	Road                              Helpline:	0808	200	0247	–	24	hours
London	N7	7JW
Tel:	020	7697	7777                            In	Wales,	contact:
Fax:	020	7697	7799                            Website:
Email:                Helpline:	0808	200	0247	–	24	hours
                                              In	Northern	Ireland,	contact:
MIND	(National	Association	for	Mental	        129	University	Street
Health)                                       Belfast	BT7	1HP
Granta	House                                  Website:
15-19	Broadway                                Helpline:	0800	917	1414	–	24	hours
London	E15	EBQ
Tel:	020	8519	2122                            Roadpeace
Email:                    G4b	Shakespeare	Business	Centre
Website:                      245a	Cold	Harbour	Lane
Helpline:	0845	766	0163	–	Mon	to	Friday	      Brixton
9.15am to 5.15pm                              London	SW9	8RR
                                              Helpline:	0845	450	0355
                                              Helpline	email:

                                                                                    Page 17

   Victim	Support	(England	and	Wales)
   Hallam House
   50-60	Hallam	Street
   London	W1W	6JL
   Tel:	020	7268	0200
   Fax:	020	7268	0210
   Victim	Supportline:	0845	303	0900	–	
   Monday	to	Friday	9am	to	9pm,	
   Saturday	and	Sunday	9am	to	7pm	
   and	Bank	Holidays	9am	to	5pm.

   Victim	Support	(Northern	Ireland)
   3rd	Floor
   Annsgate House
   70-74	Ann	Street
   Belfast	BT1	4EH
   Tel:	028	9024	4039
   Fax:	028	9031	3838
   Victim	Supportline:	0845	303	0900	–	
   Monday	to	Friday	9am	to	9pm,	
   Saturday	and	Sunday	9am	to	7pm	
   and	Bank	Holidays	9am	to	5pm.

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