Personal Injury and Accident Claims
Within this guide you will find everything that you need to know about personal injury claims, the law surrounding making a compensation claim and the questions our expert solicitors are frequently asked. If you have any further questions or would like to speak to us regarding your claim, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – our initial consultation is confidential, handled with sensitivity and of course, completely free of charge.
What is Personal Injury Compensation?
This is the money that awarded to a person who has been hurt or left with damages from an accident that was not their fault. It can be best described as a financial settlement that covers costs for your injury and helps you manage the impact that the injury has had on your life, now and into the future. Compensation isn’t awarded to anybody who has been involved in an accident. To qualify for and make a successful claim, the following criteria need to be met:
- Your accident was within the last three years
- The accident or negligence was caused by someone else
- You suffered an injury or damages as a result of said accident
What Does Personal Injury Compensation Pay For?
Each case is treated individually, so there isn’t a way to give a set or expected financial sum. We can’t compare one case to another as it is difficult to consider all the unique factors that separate the two. The compensation that you receive takes into account how serious your injury/illness is and the effects that it has had on your life and ability to work long term. There are also several other factors which can impact the compensation amount that you receive, a few of which are listed below:
- Your pain and suffering. This covers the trauma and/or stress that was caused by your accident or illness.
- This Includes travelling costs, medical equipment or treatments, as well as any items which help you with general day-to-day life.
- Loss of earnings. Any time that may have had off work or time which you may still need. This includes outcomes such as never be able to return to work.
- Medical care and rehabilitation.
- Adaptation Costs. Any requirements or changes to your home/car.
How Is My Final Settlement Determined?
The amount of money you receive will depend on several different factors, including the severity of the different injuries you have sustained and the different ways those injuries have negatively impacted your life. For example, you may have been out of work for weeks or months due to your injuries, causing you to lose thousands of pounds that you would have otherwise earned from your place of employment. The settlement varies tremendously based on each client’s personal situation, so, because of that we cannot give you an exact number, but we do offer a claims calculator that will provide you with an estimate. While negotiating the settlement, our lawyers will carefully review several different aspects of your case, such as:
• The types of injuries you have sustained.
• The amount of time you have spent recovering from those injuries.
• The amount of treatment you have had to receive.
• The money you have lost out on due to being out of work.
• The professional medical care you may need to receive because of your injuries.
What Is The Personal Injury Claim Process?
Initially, we’ll discuss the details of your case and the best way to take it forward. This initial consultation is free and confidential. There is no obligation attached to this so feel free to ask us all the questions you may have. It is ultimately up to you if you wish to proceed. If we feel that the case is not worth pursuing or if you run a significant chance of losing we will make sure you are aware at this point.
We’ll then work out who is responsible for your injuries or illness. If this isn’t obvious we have an experienced team of investigators to look into it in more detail. Once we have determined where the responsibility lies, we’ll contact them (often their insurers) to see if they accept responsibility and to understand their take on the events. Remember we are here working on your behalf to put forward your version of events.
Understanding Your Needs
We’ll look at the exact nature of your injury and the impact it has had on various aspects of your life, including any financial, psychological and physical implications. We obtain reports from independent medical experts where required to help support your case and further understand your needs. From this, we’ll have a better indication of the amount of compensation we think you’ll be entitled to recover.
With serious injury claims, we’ll look to recover interim payments wherever possible. These are payments that are received before final settlement (and taken from the total at the end) to cover any immediate needs you have. We also have a specialist team to help you access any required support to assist with your recovery. Naturally, waiting until a case is concluded is not an option for many people who need help immediately.
Final Compensation Settlement
The majority of personal injury claims that we deal with settle out of court. This is often the preferred course for claimants and is the sensible route, especially if it’s clear where the responsibility lies. However, in some cases, the responsible party doesn’t accept liability or they don’t agree with the amount of compensation we feel you need. In these circumstances, we’ll start court proceedings. If this turns out to be the case then we’ll be there to help you every step of the way, talking you through what will happen so you feel comfortable at all times.
Once your case has been settled, your opponent will have to pay some of our basic legal costs. If this doesn’t cover the complete costs of them, we may deduct it from the final compensation amount awarded to you. This amount is capped at a pre-arranged percentage, meaning there won’t be any surprises and you’ll always keep the vast majority of your compensation payout. We’ll further explain this all well before you instruct us. Further details can be found in your agreement with us, which you’ll receive and sign at the start.
In recent years, to help with your legal costs, the government has introduced a 10% increase in the compensation amount awarded to you for the ‘pain and suffering’ aspect of your compensation. This was done to encourage people who may not have brought a claim forward to seek the help they may need.
Unfortunately, at the same time, the government also reduced the total costs that lawyers could recover from the defendant. This means that some of the legal costs are taken from the final compensation amount awarded to cover the shortfall in legal fees accrued in the pursuit of compensation. If this is successful, unfortunately not all expenses are paid by your opponent. This includes:
- The insurance premium on your policy that protects you fully against any risk of legal costs.
- Any basic legal costs which can’t be recovered from the opposing side.
We cannot guarantee that every case we take on is going to be successful. We have a proud history and reputation and will always do our utmost to ensure that your case has a high chance of success. However, if we think it may not go through, we will inform you at the earliest indication. If we lose the case for whichever reason, you are protected from any financial risk through your conditional fee agreement.
Compensation That Changes Lives
Read the stories of how we have helped people with rehabilition, compensation and support as to get their lives back after being involved in an accident.
What to Look For In a Personal Injury Solicitor
One of the most important things to look for is whether the firm is a specialist or whether it is a mixed practice.
Specialist practices focus solely on one area of law, whereas, mixed practices only deal with various areas of law. For instance, a specialist practice may deal solely with personal injury claims, whereas a mixed practice may deal in criminal law, family law, personal injury, employment law and corporate law, all under the same roof. Many high street firms are mixed practices, and this can often mean that their expertise is weak in various areas of law. You can’t be specialists in everything!
Not only is it important to look at the firm as a whole, but you should also look into the individual team members. Do various members of the team work in different departments? Does the supervising partner also head up other departments or work in other areas of law? These are important questions to consider when deciding whether to go with a mixed practice or specialist practice. Mixed practices can have a split focus, so you will wholly find that your claim is in safer hands with a specialist practice who only focuses on one particular area of the law.
The team at Smith Jones Solicitors only deal with personal injury claims, and so you can rest assured that you are in safe hands should you choose to pursue your claim with ourselves.
It’s also useful when looking for a legal representative to see what accreditations and affiliations they have.
Accreditations for law firms vary and can be either general or sector specific. For instance, the Law Society’s Lexcel accreditation is a quality mark for practice management and client care and is designed for any legal practice regardless of the size or type of work undertaken. Furthermore, the Law Society also have practice and individual accreditations, these go to practices or individuals that display competence and expertise in a specific area of law.
Charities and organisations may also offer accreditations to practices who support the work that they do. Accreditations can be a big indicator of quality and commitment of a law firm to the people it represents, and so ought to be considered when you’re shopping around.
Smith Jones hold accreditations with the Law Society, the Motor Accident Solicitors Society and Headway – The Brain Injury Association. These accreditations are a testament to the quality of service we offer and an example of our commitment to the clients we represent. All of our accreditations can be viewed here: https://www.smithjonessolicitors.co.uk/about-us/accreditations/
When choosing representation, you’ll want someone who has the knowledge and experience to handle your claim. Again, your claim is safer with a specialist practice than a mixed practice, as they only deal with one area of law and so will have more specialist experience in that particular area.
It is also important to look at the experience of the supervising partners and the members of the team. When did the partners qualify? How long have they been dealing with this particular area of law? These all indicate how much experience a law firm has. You’ll more than likely feel in safer hands pursuing your claim through a solicitor who has decades of experience than someone who is newly qualified.
As a potential client of our law firm, you can be confident that with age comes experience. Smith Jones has over 30 years’ experience in the personal injury sector; all the partners have extensive experience in all aspects of personal injury litigation and a national reputation in the field.
Reviews are a good way for people to give feedback on the experience they have had and can be very persuasive when you’re looking for a legal representative.
When looking at a firm’s reviews, the negative reviews can be just as valuable as the positive reviews, so don’t overlook them. It may appear suspicious if a firm has nothing but positive reviews, so negative reviews can help confirm that the review site is based on genuine clients.
Reviews found on independent review sites, such as Trustpilot, are generally more reliable than those found on a company’s website. There is less chance that these reviews will have been manufactured and so they may be the deciding factor when you’re looking for a firm to pursue your personal injury claim.
Smith Jones invites all clients to provide us with feedback at the end of their claim via our Trustpilot page. This allows us to monitor the service we provide and identify areas where we can improve it.
Legal representation can be costly. You should avoid if you can arrangements based purely on you paying an hourly rate as these are applicable whether you win, lose or draw. Hourly rates range from £201 to £409, depending on the area of the country they are based in. Depending on the matter you are looking to pursue, these costs can quickly mount up, so it is in your best interests to look into the funding arrangements available to you.
For personal injury claims, a much more viable funding arrangement is the No Win No Fee* agreement combined with a cap on the maximum percentage the lawyers can take out of your damages. Mixed practices may not have the resources to offer this arrangement. These will allow you to make a claim without having to pay any upfront costs and with no real financial risk to yourself.
It’s a big commitment choosing a legal representative, so it’s important that you are happy with them, including the potential funding arrangements. We are able to operate on a no win no fee* basis, and we will spell out up front the maximum charge we will take out of the monies we recover for you. We are transparent and upfront about our charges, with no hidden surprises or costs.
 The Law Society, Lexcel – Excellence in Legal Practice Management and Client Care <http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/accreditation/lexcel/>
 HM Courts & Tribunal Service, ‘Solicitors’ guideline hourly rates‘ (Published 19th April 2010) <https://www.gov.uk/guidance/solicitors-guideline-hourly-rates#national-1
Your Winning Personal Injury Team
Our legal team specialises in dealing with accident and personal injury claims only. We have been providing legal services in England and Wales since 1988. We are accredited through the Law Society, as well as the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. We are also authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Common Injury Claim Types
Arm Injury Claims
An arm injury can occur as a result of a variety of different accidents, ranging from relatively minor injuries to that can result in the loss of full use of the arm, wrist, elbow or even loss of the arm itself. These injuries can be life-changing, especially if suffered to the dominant arm or both arms.
There are many situations that could result in an arm injury, with the most common being accidents on the road, work accidents (especially construction, dangerous machinery and farming) or sports injuries. These injuries can take anywhere between a couple of weeks to an entire lifetime to recover from. Smith Jones has advised people in relation to many arm injuries, including:
- Cuts and deep lacerations
- Bruising and swelling
- Broken arm
- Fractured Wrist
- Loss of fingers or hand
- Loss of arm(s)
- Injuries resulting from an industrial accident or disease
- Brachial Plexus Injury
Back Injury Claim
Back injuries can arise from a wide range of accidents. Whether your injuries were caused by an accident on the road, at work or a slip, trip or fall, back injuries can be extremely complex and the impact they can have on your home and work life can be life-changing. Every injury is different, and a wide range of conditions with varying severity and recovery periods can be associated with an injury to the back; ranging from minor whiplash following a road traffic accident, to spinal injuries of the utmost severity.
We understand that a back injury of this nature will have a large impact on your family life. Serious injuries and those affecting the spine, in particular, can require prolonged recovery and rehabilitation periods.
Broken Bones & Fractures
Broken or fractured bones can occur as a result of a variety of different accidents and can range from relatively minor injuries to the extremely serious. Severe injuries can even result in arthritis, compartment syndrome or a bone infection (osteomyelitis).
Head Injury Claims
According to ‘Headway’ around one million people visit A&E each and every year following some type of head injury (source). Unfortunately, around every 1 in every 2,000 patients who attend hospital with a head injury also die as a result of their injury. Thankfully, (and as can be seen from the above statistic), the majority of these emergency referrals are considered to be minor and have either short-term or absolutely no long-lasting effects, yet many others are left with a traumatic brain injury (sometimes referred to as ‘TBI’) which can understandably have devastating effects for both the patient, their friends and their families.
Hearing Loss Claims
Hearing loss can have a serious effect on your life. Besides causing obvious psychological and emotional distress, often your family will need to adapt their way of living too. These disruptions to your everyday life are all considered by our team when assisting you in making a hearing loss claim for industrial deafness compensation.
If you are suffering from Noise Induced Hearing Loss, Acoustic Shock, Tinnitus, or Industrial Deafness, you may be entitled to make a hearing loss claim for hearing loss compensation.
Compensation For A Hip Injury
Hip injuries can occur through a variety of different accidents, but they are mostly suffered by cyclists who are dismounted in an accident, or by elderly people falling. They can also occur as the result of:
- Road traffic accidents;
- Workplace accidents;
- Slips, trips and falls.
- Medical Negligence (Hip Replacement Procedure went wrong)
As with most other types of injury, both the nature and severity of hip injuries tend to vary quite significantly and can either be a short or long term; the latter of which will typically necessitate physiotherapy and/or a period of rehabilitation.
Neck Injury Claims
Unfortunately, any damage to the neck can quickly cause damage to other areas of your body. Bones, joints, soft tissue and nerves in the cervical spine all work together to hold up and move the head. Suffice to say, when you sustain a neck injury, there can often be a much bigger impact on the body than you might first imagine.
Neck injuries are often preceded by an accident, trauma, falls and even through degenerative changes which can sometimes occur due to repetitive activities, such as lifting heavy objects at work. If you have suffered a neck injury, that was caused by someone else’s actions, you may be eligible to claim neck injury compensation.
Shoulder Injury Compensation Claims
Shoulder injuries can occur through all sorts of accidents – ranging from relatively minor injuries (such as a pulled joint) right through to more troublesome (and longer-lasting) injuries such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
As might be expected, there are numerous situations which might easily result in a shoulder injury being sustained – with the most common being accidents on the road and work accidents (particularly within the construction, machinery and farming industry). These types of injury can take anywhere between a couple of weeks to an entire lifetime to recover from – but that’s where we’re here to help.
Amputation Or Loss Of Limb Claims
If you or a loved one has had to have an amputation or even lost a limb in an accident that wasn’t your fault, then the professional team of personal injury solicitors at Smith Jones could be able to assist you in claiming for compensation.
Paralysis is the loss of use of certain areas or sides of your body. It can be permanent or temporary, and mobility may be affected in any part of your body. If an injury has been sustained to the vertebra, all movement from the neck down may be lost, or an injury to the lower spine could result in paraplegia.
The consequences of a serious injury resulting in paralysis are traumatic and life-changing both for the injured person and their family and close friends. Many will suffer from psychological issues, such as depression, anxiety and loss of motivation after being paralysed. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is also common among those who sustain paralysis unexpectedly. In claims involving paralysis, proper legal support is invaluable to ensuring the best possible future comfort and security is provided to the injured person.
Why Choose Smith Jones?
Established in 1988, Smith Jones solicitors have a long history in dealing with all types of personal injury claims. As accredited personal injury solicitors, we can be relied upon to handle your case most sensitively and efficiently.
Thanks to our expertise and commitment to our clients, we can offer you the support and rehabilitation necessary to get your life back to normal. Most of our work injury claims are funded through no win no fee arrangements, so you can rest assured that there will be no costs to pay upfront and no financial risk. Should your compensation claim be successful, your legal fees will are subtracted from the amount that you receive.