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People get injured every day. Most injuries are simple accidents for which no one is to blame. However, some injuries are caused by the fault of another, which may give rise to a possible compensation claim.

The vast majority of injuries arise from road traffic accidents, injuries at work, or on land owned by another. It is rare for individuals to suffer more than one such injury in their lifetime that would give rise to a claim. Therefore, it follows that most injured individuals only become involved in a claim once and the process of bringing a claim for compensation can be overwhelming for more than one reason.

There are certain steps that need to be taken and mistakes to be avoided if you want the best chance of recovering the compensation that you deserve. When pursuing a personal injury claim there are many pitfalls that can catch out clients and we set out here 7 common mistakes personal injury clients make.

client mistakes with personal injury

1. Hesitant to ask a question you think might be embarrassing
Some adverts suggest that making a personal injury claim is easy, so you might feel you can’t ask a question. It is important that you don’t think like this. We always tell our clients that this is their claim and they have a right to know what is going on.

Personal Injury law can be extremely complicated and requires in-depth knowledge of laws, regulations, and other legal doctrines. If you have any questions regarding your claim you should ask them confidently. You may feel that the question will be stupid for the lawyer because he or she is an expert, but we encourage our clients not to hesitate to ask questions of our team of experienced solicitors.

2. Not getting help from an experienced PI Lawyer
It is not advisable to pursue a compensation claim without a solicitor; the process is highly complex, and you need someone on your side who knows this area of law inside out.

You should take the time to find a personal injury solicitor who you feel has the most relevant experience and will be the most proactive.

Case study:

We have recently acted for an employer, Mr S, who was being sued by one of his employees (Mr X) for more than £20,000 (inclusive of costs). The employer had tried to defend the matter, including court proceedings against him, through a ‘friend’ who was a solicitor but did not specialise in personal injury.

On review, it was clear there the ‘solicitor friend’ had made several errors, as she was unfortunately inexperienced in personal injury law, with her actions possibly costing Mr S his livelihood and company.

We managed to resolve the situation on a ‘best possible terms’ basis in the sum of £4500 saving him more than £15,000 and his company.

It is important to use a solicitor that specialises in the area of law you are seeking assistance with.

Here are some questions you should consider asking your solicitor:

  • Have you taken on a case like mine before?
  • What is your track record in winning claims?
  • How many clients are you dealing with?
  • Will you deal directly with my case, or might it be passed to a paralegal or someone less qualified?
  • How will my personal injury case be funded – will it be on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis?
  • How regularly can I expect updates on my claim, and what form will they take?

You need to find a solicitor you can trust, and who you know will be thorough and responsive throughout the claims process.

Get a recommendation if you can, and if possible, former client reviews.

3. Taking legal advice from unqualified friends and family
Everyone has an opinion about a claim, from a family member to the bloke you meet in the pub. If you have a question, ask your solicitor. If you ask a question and do not get a satisfactory reply, consider changing solicitors.

We advise our clients not to talk about their accident or claim with others. Comparing the value of claims with other people’s awards is also a common error. Everyone’s claim is different, the value of the claim will depend on the medical evidence; you have instructed a lawyer to act for you, let them correctly value your claim.

4. Posting about the accident on social media
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media are essentially public-facing websites—prime material for investigation by insurance companies and defendant lawyers. Even if your accounts are set as private, they may be able to find pictures, text, or other material that can help their client avoid full responsibility and help them make arguments to reduce their liability. For example, pictures of your recent activity can be referenced to show that you are not as injured as you claim—even if it’s a still shot of you standing with a smile on your face.

5. Failing to collate and record all evidence
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, clients are understandably preoccupied with their injuries. Thinking ahead may not be the easiest thing to do when your accident has just happened, but if you are physically and mentally well enough to gather evidence at the scene, you should.

If this accident was not your fault, anything you can use to prove this will strengthen your case.

  • Talk to witnesses and get their contact details
  • Take photos and video footage on your mobile phone
  • Note the details of the weather, the time, the conditions in which the accident happened
  • Write everything down if you can.
  • Ask local shops and businesses if they have CCTV footage.

If you are unable to do this, is there anyone on the scene who could do it for you?

It is always for the Claimant to prove his or her case and not the other way around so the more evidence you have the better this is for your claim.

6. Failing to keep track of financial losses resulting from the accident
Any expenses or losses incurred as a result of the injury, no matter how small, should be claimable. Every time you incur a cost because of your accident – or even every time a friend or relative incurs such a cost – write it down.

Keep any receipts of expenses including for example parking tickets, or record it on your phone, or send it to your solicitor. Even with small costs, such as parking at a hospital, physiotherapy appointments and additional take-aways because you cannot cook due to your injuries – the sums all add-up and are potentially claimable. Your solicitor should advise you on what can be claimed.

Examples of claimable expenditure may include:

  • taxi or public transport fares if you are unable to drive due to your injuries
  • parking tickets paid for during hospital visits or other therapies you have required
  • costs incurred by friends or relatives who have had to help and support you during recovery
  • takeaways bought because you are unable to cook
  • domestic help if you can no longer manage housework

If in doubt, keep a record and send all you have to your solicitor who will be able to advise you on what can and cannot be claimed.

7. Settling your claim too soon
We regularly come across situations where the defendant has admitted liability and is keen to come to a settlement as soon as possible. Remember, even if the defendant has admitted liability there is no obligation for you to accept an out-of-court settlement. There will be situations where it makes sense to do this but if there is any doubt about the consequence of your injuries in the longer term, then a court case may be the best course of action.

There is no rush to agree a compensation payment if:-

  • You have not made a full recovery from your injuries
  • The doctors have estimated recovery will be more than six months after your examination
  • You experienced multiple injuries that require the attention of multiple specialists
  • Treatment for your injuries/condition is still ongoing
  • There is no definitive answer regarding your recovery time

In simple terms, where there is potential for further medical complications (or even mental health issues) in the future it may be wise not to agree any compensation package right away.

A good personal injury solicitor will advise you at every stage of the claim process. The solicitor’s experience will be invaluable when deciding whether to accept a settlement offer or continue negotiating for a higher amount. Once a claim is settled, you cannot go back for more, except in rare circumstances.

Aston Knight Solicitors Bury are a specialist firm of solicitors that specialise in serious injuries including medical negligence claims and work injury compensation. If you would like to discuss a matter in confidence, please contact a member of our team on 0161 399 1231 or for a free and confidential discussion.

By Emma Pearce

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