In the UK they are told that over three million people are injured in accidents each year, whether in their cars, outdoors or at work. The precise numbers of people injured each year in Jersey is less certain, but the one thing which we can be certain of is that injuries do regularly happen here – one only needs to read the Jersey Evening Post each day to see them reported.
In many instances, the injury will be caused by the fault of someone else, and in such cases, the party injured as a consequence will have a right to compensation and make a personal injury claim.
Personal injury law can be complex, and in many cases, the safest way to be sure that you receive what you are entitled to, is to seek legal advice from a Jersey Advocate or Solicitor practising in that area of law, about your personal injury claim. In many cases, you may find that you may be able to receive assistance with your legal fees for such a claim, for example, such claims are frequently covered under the terms of household insurance policies, and work-related injuries may be covered under the terms of insurance provided by certain trade unions to their members.
In either instance, the potential personal injury claim should be notified to the party providing the insurance as soon as reasonably practicable once you become aware of the claim, both to ensure that a limitation period in relation to the claim is not missed, and because late notification can result in the claim for assistance, whether under the terms of an insurance policy or otherwise, being rejected.
Moreover, subject to certain very limited exceptions, there is a limitation period for claims in tort of 3 years from the date of injury after which, if legal proceedings before the Court are not issued before that 3 year period expires, the personal injury claim will be barred by statute and cannot then be pursued. This period is extended to 10 years if the claim arises under the terms of a contract, and has occurred as a consequence of that contract having been breached.
If you do not have insurance, and cannot otherwise afford the legal fees to make a personal injury claim, then third party funding for the claim can sometimes be available, usually subject to agreement that the third party will be paid back for what they have invested in bringing the claim, plus a proportion of the eventual compensation recovered.
Once you have chosen your lawyer, they will make an appointment to meet with you in order to record the details giving rise to your claim, including the date of the injury, where and how it occurred, whether there were any witnesses to it and their contact details, the details of your injuries, and any medical diagnosis and treatment. It is usual to obtain copies of your medical records in support of your claim, both to show the injuries themselves and to show that you did not have any pre-existing injuries or medical conditions which would impact on your claim. You can assist your lawyer greatly, and help to reduce your legal costs in the process, by compiling as much of this information as possible yourself, and most lawyers will be pleased to guide you in that respect. Parslows Jersey produce a personal injury questionnaire which sets out much of the information which will be required in order for us to advise upon and progress your claim.
Your lawyer will also need to be provided with proof of your loss of earnings and other financial expenses which you have sustained as a consequence of your injury, and any other documents that support your claim.
It is usual to obtain a medico-legal report or reports in support of your claim from a medical professional who specializes in the area of your injury, and it can frequently take anything from a number of months to a number of years from the date of your injury before a final settled medical report detailing the permanent or long-term effects of your injury can be produced. This is due to the necessity to allow your injuries to heal.
Claims can be brought not only for physical injuries, but also for psychological injuries, such as post-traumatic stress, provided that it can be proved that the negligent act of a third party has caused or made such a medical condition worse.
Once your lawyer has obtained the information listed above they will then be able to provide you with an assessment of how likely your case is to succeed and how much you may be able to claim in compensation, as well as explaining the legal processes involved in progressing your claim.
After the steps set out above have been taken then, if you decide that you wish to progress your claim, the first step your solicitor will take is to send a claim letter to the defendant. This sets out the details of your injury and the circumstances in which it took place. The person you are holding responsible for your injury (the ‘defendant’) will usually be given a fixed time within which to reply, stating whether they accept or deny liability for your injury.
If liability is accepted then your lawyer will try to settle the matter out of court. If you cannot settle out of court, your solicitor will advise you on whether to start legal action, and the implications of that for you, both in terms of your prospects for success at trial and in relation to the cost implications for you of commencing such proceedings, both if you are successful and if you should lose.
In the majority of cases, particularly where liability is not in dispute and where the party who caused the injury is insured, it is not necessary to proceed to trial in order to recover compensation, although obviously this varies on a case by case basis.
It can frequently be helpful to have a brief initial discussion with your lawyer before proceeding further in order to ascertain at an early stage whether there are legal grounds on which you could progress a personal injury claim.
Lorraine McClure | Head | Jersey Personal Injury lawyers
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