Personal injury claims can take many forms, but the bottom line is, if you are injured in an accident which was due to someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to bring a compensation claim.
Road traffic accidents
The most common type of personal injury claim is for road traffic accidents. You can make a claim whether you are a driver, a cyclist, a motorcyclist, a passenger, or a pedestrian. As long as the person responsible for your injuries owed you a duty of care, which all road users owe to other road users, you can show that they breached the expected standard of care, and you can prove you were injured as a result, then you can make a claim.
Common causes of road traffic accidents include:
- joy riding;
- drunk driving;
- failing to indicate;
- overtaking on blind corners;
- hit and runs;
- careless reversing or lane-changing;
- bad lighting or weather conditions; and
- insufficient attention paid at roundabouts or junctions.
Slips, trips or falls in public places
If you are injured in a slip, trip or fall in a public place and the accident was not your fault, you may be entitled to bring a public liability claim for compensation.
To be able to make such a claim you need to find out who was responsible for the area where your accident happened. This could be the local council, the Highways Authority, the British Waterways Board, or a shop or restaurant owner.
Slips, trips or falls can be caused by:
- uneven surfaces;
- cracks in the pavement;
- falling objects;
- wet floors;
- potholes in the road;
- inadequate signage of hazards;
- bad lighting; or
- discarded rubbish clogging walkways.
All employers have a legal duty under UK health and safety laws to do all that is reasonably possible to ensure the workplace environment is safe for their workers. This includes carrying out and acting on regular risk assessments, checking all machinery is safe to use and that workers are provided with the right training, support, and protective equipment.
If your employer breaches this duty, you may have a valid claim for compensation. Common causes of workplace accidents include:
- wet or uneven floors, clutter or loose cables which can cause slips, trips or falls;
- poor training or supervision or inadequate training which can lead to falls from a height;
- faulty equipment machinery which can cause trapped or severed limbs;
- insufficient training which can lead to vehicle collisions;
- lifting heavy loads without the proper equipment, training or help which can cause manual handling injuries;
- wrongly stored or used chemicals or gases which can lead to burns; and
- exposure to harmful substances which can cause occupational illnesses such as asbestosis.
Medical negligence claims can arise in a number of ways including:
- acute illnesses misdiagnosed or missed;
- test results misinterpreted;
- fractures undetected;
- birthing errors made;
- the wrong medicine administered;
- surgery botched; and
- poor aftercare leading to new infections or the worsening of an existing condition.
The standard of proof of negligence is slightly different for medical negligence claims. If your injuries were caused by a healthcare professional the Bolam test applies, which states that a medical professional is negligent if she or he fails to act in accordance with a practice that is considered acceptable by a responsible body of doctors.
Physical or sexual abuse
Unlike most other kinds of personal injury claims, intentional torts are not based on accidents caused by negligence or carelessness, but rather when one person deliberately harms or injures you.
If you have suffered physical or sexual abuse, you can inform the police who may bring criminal charges, but you could also bring a civil case, seeking compensation for the physical and emotional trauma you have suffered.
If you were a victim of a violent crime, a compensation claim can also be brought through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.
For such a claim, you usually have two years to bring a claim, although that deadline may be extended if you are claiming because of childhood sexual or physical abuse or because you could not claim earlier, for example because your mental or physical health prohibited you from doing so.
You can get compensation for:
- physical injuries;
- disabling mental injuries;
- sexual or physical abuse;
- the death of a close relative;
- paying for someone’s funeral; and
- loss of earnings and expenses.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.