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Personal injury

This information applies to England.


What is a personal injury?

A personal injury can be:

A personal injury could result in death.


Examples of personal injuries are:

If you have suffered a personal injury, or if you are acting on behalf of someone who has died because of a personal injury, you may want to consider the following:


Action to be taken

Whatever you are intending to do about your personal injury, actions you could take include:-

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Making a complaint

If you have had an accident or suffered an injury you might be able to get an explanation of what went wrong and to receive an apology. In some cases, there may be an official complaints procedure you can use.

One disadvantage of using complaints procedures is that they are often time consuming and the final result will be no more than an apology. If you have suffered a personal injury and you also want compensation, you should be aware that there are time limits for taking legal action (see under heading Taking legal action) and going through a complaints procedure may delay matters.

If you decide that making a complaint will provide a sufficient remedy, here are some examples of the organisations you can complain to:

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There are several ways of getting compensation for a personal injury:


Amount of compensation


If you have sustained a personal injury you may be able to claim two types of compensation, general damages and special damages.

General damages are paid as compensation for an injury, for example, a payment for pain and suffering or loss of future earnings. The court will decide on the amount to be paid.

Special damages are paid as compensation for actual financial loss caused by the accident up to the date of the hearing. These can include damage to clothing or other belongings, the costs of care, travel costs to hospital, medical expenses (including the cost of private treatment) and the cost of hiring and/or repairing a car if it has been damaged in the accident.

If a court decides that you were partly to blame for the accident, it may reduce the amount of damages you receive. An example of this would be if you were not wearing a seat belt when you were involved in a traffic accident.



Deduction of social security benefits from compensation


If you have been receiving certain social security benefits because of an accident in which you sustained a personal injury, you may have to pay these back out of any compensation you get.

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Claims assessors

If you have sustained a personal injury you may be considering using the services of a claims assessor (sometimes known as a claims manager). Claims assessors offer to take up cases on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis but there may be some disadvantages, including:-

All claims assessors must be authorised by the government to carry out business. They must stick to a strict set of rules which cover how they advertise, take on business, deal with and represent clients.

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Taking legal action

If you want to take legal action to claim compensation for a personal injury you will need to get advice from a solicitor specialising in these types of cases. This must be done as soon as possible as there are strict time limits on taking legal action (see below).



Time limits


There are different time limits within which you must begin legal action in a personal injury claim. You should therefore get legal advice urgently if you wish to claim compensation.

The most common claim in a personal injury case is negligence and the time limit for this is three years. This means that court proceedings must be issued within three years of you first being aware that you have suffered an injury.

In some cases, a court may decide to extend a time limit, depending on the circumstances of the case.

If you are considering taking legal action and have not yet been to a solicitor you will need to be aware of the time limits for taking action and should seek help from an experienced adviser.



Paying for legal action


Legal action for compensation for a personal injury can be expensive. You may be able to get help with legal costs from, for example:-


Conditional fee agreement


A conditional fee agreement means that your solicitor will receive no fees if you lose your case. You may, however, have to pay the legal fees and expenses of the other side. Your solicitor will normally ask you to take out insurance to cover this situation. If you win your case, your solicitor's fees and expenses will normally be paid by the other side.

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