In principle, you should always be compensated for being injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault.
But many people end up getting less compensation than they should, or even miss out on compensation altogether, because of mistakes they make during the claiming process.
This guide will highlight some of these common mistakes and explain what you should do instead to make sure you get all the compensation you deserve.
Starting your claim too lateAccidents always come out of nowhere, and the shock can take time to wear off, particularly if your injuries are bad. When all you want to do is get on with the rest of your life, it can be tempting to put off making your personal injury claim until you feel that the accident is behind you.
Unfortunately, you only have a limited amount of time to start your claim. If you leave it too long, you may be unable to make your personal injury claim at all.
You’ll usually need to make your personal injury claim within three years of your accident or when you first noticed your symptoms. But it’s always best to start the process as early as possible.
Starting your claim early helps your personal injury solicitor to collect all the evidence they need to make your case as strong as possible. This way, you’re more likely to be awarded the full amount of compensation you deserve.
Not getting medical treatmentWaiting around A&E might be the last thing you feel like doing after being involved in an accident. But while it’s tempting to medicate yourself at home with bed and TV, not getting medical attention for your injuries right away can have devastating consequences for your personal injury claim.
Firstly, your personal injury solicitor will need your medical records to prove that your injuries were caused by the accident. If you don’t get your injuries seen to right away, it will be more difficult to prove that they were caused by the accident and you may lose your case.
Secondly, a large part of the compensation you can claim is determined by the type of injuries you have, how bad they are, and what treatment you need.
You will get more compensation if you can prove that your injuries are severe and have required ongoing treatment.
This means that it’s essential to have a record of your injuries from straight after your accident, when they’re most severe, to details of any follow up treatment that you may have needed.
Without this medical record, proving your case will be difficult. Even if you do win your case, you may end up with less compensation than you should.
Not collecting evidence of your accidentAfter being involved in an accident, you’ll probably feel a mixture of pain, shock, and anxiety. Unfortunately, none of these natural human reactions help you to collect the evidence you need to prove your personal injury claim.
This is a problem.
The chance of getting the evidence you need to prove your case gets smaller the longer you leave it.
Ideally, you should try to collect as much evidence of your accident as you can as soon as possible after it happens.
If you’re unable to do it yourself, your friends and family can probably help you.
Useful pieces of evidence for your claim could include:
- Photos of the scene of your accident
- Any CCTV footage or dashcam footage of your accident
- Any statements from people who witnessed your accident
- Photos of your injuries
Speaking to insurance companiesInsurance companies play a necessary role in society. But if you get a call from the other side’s insurers, you can be sure that they’re not trying to help you.
After being involved in a road traffic accident (RTA), it’s common for the insurers of the person who caused your accident to phone you. They may act concerned and helpful, but don’t be fooled – insurance companies aren’t social workers.
In personal injury claims, it’s the insurance company of the person at fault who will pay any compensation that is owed to you on behalf of their client.
Of course, insurance companies want to pay you as little compensation as possible. And one way of doing this is by getting you to say something that will weaken your personal injury claim.
If they call you, they will try to take advantage of any confusion you have over the details of the accident to damage your case.
For instance, they may try to get you to accept that you were partially to blame for causing the RTA, even though their client was entirely at fault. They would then be able to use this statement against you in your case and reduce how much compensation you’re awarded.
You should always speak to a personal injury solicitor first before speaking to the other side’s insurance company. They will help you to avoid saying anything that might damage your claim.
Accepting an offer out of courtAnother way the other side’s insurance company can try to get out of paying you all the compensation you deserve is by offering you an out of court settlement that’s considerably less than the amount of compensation you could win in a personal injury claim.
When you have lost money from time off work and other expenses caused by your accident, it can be tempting to accept this offer.
But insurance companies will usually only approach you to settle out of court if they believe that their client has no way of avoiding blame for causing your accident.
This means that the amount of compensation a personal injury solicitor could win for you will probably be much more than what they offer you out of court.
However, accepting an out of court settlement might be beneficial in certain situations, particularly if the accident hasn’t affected your life in any meaningful way.
For instance, if you got only minor injuries from an accident but were offered a generous amount of money to settle out of court, it could be worth accepting. This way, you’re still compensated for your accident but you avoid the hassle of making a personal injury claim that you might not win.
If the other side’s insurance company does offer you a settlement, it could still be worth talking to a personal injury solicitor first. They’ll be able to tell you whether the settlement is fair and how much compensation you could win in a personal injury claim. You could then decide whether you want to accept the offer or not.
Not tracking your financial lossesThere are two types of personal injury compensation damages you can claim for – general damages and special damages.
General damages compensate you for the pain and suffering caused by your injuries, while special damages reimburse you for any financial losses.
Your general damages are proven largely by your medical records but proving your special damages claim can be more complicated.
To successfully claim for special damages, you will need to provide evidence of all the financial losses that you’re claiming for. Unfortunately, you may lose your claim for these expenses if you can’t provide proof.
Try to keep track of any spending you do in relation to your injuries, ideally in the form of receipts and bank transfers.
Expenses you can claim for as part of special damages include:
- Any medical care, treatment, travel, or accommodation costs
- Any modifications you have made (or may need to make) to your home or car
- Any rehabilitation programmes prescribed to you by a medical professional
- Any other daily expenses caused by your injuries
Learn more about what damages you can claim for in our guide: How is personal injury compensation calculated?
Making your claim without a personal injury solicitorMaking a personal injury claim yourself will almost certainly result in you receiving much less compensation than you deserve, or possibly even losing your case.
Without the specialist knowledge and experience of a personal injury solicitor, the legal process is a minefield of things that could damage your claim. What may seem like a trivial technicality to you may in fact sink your case.
And without a personal injury solicitor, you will have no way of knowing how much compensation you’re entitled to.
Insurance companies want to pay you as little compensation as possible and will throw all their resources at you to make this happen. Without a solicitor, it’s highly likely that you will end up settling for less compensation than you deserve.
Fortunately, most personal injury solicitors will agree to fight your case on a no win no fee basis. This means that you have no upfront costs and will only pay your solicitor if they win your case for you.
With the help of an experienced personal injury solicitor, you’re much more likely to get all the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.
You can find personal injury solicitors on The Law Superstore who can help you to get your claim started.