Personal injury claims: how to improve your chances of success
In the UK, many people still find the notion of making a personal injury claim vaguely distasteful and as a result, fail to take the proper steps to ensure their claim is successful.
It’s important to understand that making a personal injury claim is not about seeking compensation at all costs, it’s about receiving an amount which helps to address the losses and damage – monetary, physical and emotional – which you may have suffered.
Contrary to what you may have been told, a successful personal injury claim is based on honesty and the reporting of facts. However, when you suffering from pain and discomfort, recalling information can be difficult. The steps suggested below will help you provide the necessary details, and as a result, improve your chances of making a successful claim.
Evidence everything – even the initial accident where possible
You might think the situation is fairly straight forward but you will be surprised how easily facts can become fuzzy, especially with the passage of time.
If you have been hurt and suffered an injury which wasn’t your fault, you would hope that the other party would be honest enough to admit liability. Unfortunately that frequently isn’t the case.
There have been many cases where the scene has been altered at a later date to make it appear as if you have not been telling the truth. This could mean hazard lines are repainted or warning signs are put up for example.
If you can take a photograph of the accident scene either on the day or as soon afterwards as possible – with a camera or phone which dates the picture – you will not only aid your memory but help to disprove any fraudulent denials by the other party.
Get everything documented by officials
For many Brits, the natural reaction is to downplay any problem and to avoid making a fuss. If you need to make a claim for compensation, this unfortunately could harm your case.
In deciding how much compensation is due, and even whether you have a case, official reports will play a big part. For a road traffic accident, this could be the report of the incident form the police, or at work it could be a copy of the Accident Book.
Don’t be persuaded to skip the formalities; these documents can play a large part in supporting your claim.
Make sure your medical records are accurate
Your GP records will be one of the first sources of information that will be checked in the event of a claim so it’s vital that your injuries are fully documented.
Even if you were initially seen at the hospital, it’s a good idea to go and see your GP afterwards. This will give you the chance to get everything put directly into your medical records; it can sometimes take a while for hospital information to filter through.
In addition, you may well have developed new symptoms or have not healed as well as you were led to believe. Talking to your GP about how you are feeling both physically and emotionally will help to provide a valuable source of information when the impact of your injuries are assessed.
Also ensure that you continue to see your GP if you do not improve. If you develop a niggling back pain as a result of the incident, don’t simply treat it with paracetamol and hope that it goes away! It’s important to make sure that you are checked out thoroughly; what seems trivial now may escalate into a chronic disability at a later date if you don’t receive early intervention.
You may think that you aren’t really out of pocket but when you add up everything the accident may have cost, you might be surprised at how much you have spent.
For example, do you pay for prescription costs? And how about parking for the doctor and hospital appointments? Have you paid for over the counter treatments? Is your employer sympathetic; are they going to pay you your full salary? Will your sickness record impact on bonuses or end of year pay rises?
The different ways in which the incident can take a financial toll can really add up. This can be difficult to keep track of so keeping your receipts is an excellent way of working out your actual costs.
Keeping receipts is a good form of evidence.
Keep a journal
You don’t have to write War and Peace but keeping a few notes on how you are feeling each day – maybe scoring for pain too – can help you provide accurate and honest information when asked.
When your injuries are assessed it’s essential that you are honest; if you try and exaggerate you will get caught out. However, although honesty is absolutely imperative, you do need to make sure you are conveying the true extent of your condition.
Many people will describe a typical day rather than thinking about how their symptoms can be on a ‘bad day’. Having a journal will help jog your memory about the days which were particularly bad, and can help you provide an accurate recollection of the ways in which your injury has impacted on you, your family and your lifestyle.
This can also be a particularly helpful way of capturing your mood; if you have suffered psychologically or emotionally as a result – whether that’s depression, flashbacks or nightmares – a diary can document your daily symptoms and objectively show just what you have to deal with.
Making a personal injury claim is something you will hopefully never have to consider but if you find yourself in the unfortunate position, the above steps will help ensure you are able to provide objective, honest and factual information to assist your solicitor to make a successful claim.