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Should you make a personal injury claim and what is the process?

If you have been injured as a result of the negligence of someone else, in simple terms “you believe it was their fault”, then you can consider making a personal injury claim for compensation. This is a legal matter.

The process of making a claim for compensation can begin as soon as you get in touch. We will first listen to you to find out simply what happened and find out the extent of your injuries, before discussing how we can help.

Talking to a specialist personal injury solicitor

When you first get in touch you will talk to someone in our Legal Enquiry Team. Everyone in this department has the legal experience and knowledge to help understand what happened and give you initial advice on whether we can help. They will direct you to the best department or office who will be your point of contact throughout the claims process.

Your solicitor will then speak to you, either face to face or over the telephone to find out exactly what happened and establish the facts. At this point they will fully explain the process and the plan of action going forward.

What falls under personal injury?

Personal injury law covers not just accidents on the roads or in the workplace. It is the overriding term for where negligence has occurred in many different circumstances.

Injuries can be related to disease, for example exposure to Asbestos, or where someone has been physically attacked, criminal injuries, which includes historical abuse or sexual abuse. Anyone affected by the consequences of failed medical treatment will fall under Clinical Negligence. It doesn’t matter if the incident happened in this country or abroad, we should be able to help.

Did the accident happen within the last three years?

In Scotland, if you are injured in an accident of any kind you generally have three years from the date of the accident to make a personal injury claim.

This means that if you do not settle your claim or raise a court action within that time, your claim will be what is known as ‘time barred’ and you are likely to lose your right to claim compensation.

There are exceptions to these time limits depending on factors like age, or the specific circumstances giving rise to your accident or injury. It is still possible to claim compensation in those circumstances.

Where accidents and injuries happen abroad, time limits can vary depending on the country where the accident took place, so it is important to seek advice as early as possible.

How will my case be funded and will I have to pay anything?

During our initial discussion, we will explain how your case will be funded. Digby Brown operates a funding scheme, Compensate, and this covers all of the costs of the claims process throughout the case.

This funding allows us to instruct the most suitable experts and carry out all of the investigations necessary to make sure that your claim includes all of the losses you are entitled to claim compensation for.

When your case is successful, we usually take a percentage of your damages as a success fee. The percentage will be set out for you in our initial discussions. If your claim is not successful, in most cases, you won’t have to pay us a penny. 

Investigating the case

We will build a clear picture of how the accident or incident that caused your injury occurred. To do this, we will contact witnesses and ask them to provide a statement setting out what they remember.

We may need to obtain paperwork like police reports, accident reports or training records. If available, recordings like CCTV or dash-cam footage can be helpful.

These investigations help us to prove negligence on the part of the organisation or individual responsible for your accident or injury. Along the way, we will come to you with any questions and we will provide you with updates on our progress.

We will carry out investigations into the injury or injuries that you have suffered and the effect on your life. We will recover your medical records and ask an appropriate medical expert or experts to provide an opinion about the extent of your injuries and how these have affected you physically and/or psychologically.

We will also obtain evidence to support other aspects of your claim, including things like loss of earnings and out of pocket expenses.

Writing to the party at fault

After we have carried out the investigations necessary to find out who was responsible for the accident, we will send that individual or organisation a letter of claim setting out the details of your claim.

The individual or organisation responsible for the accident will then be expected to pass the letter of claim to their insurance company. We often refer to this step as “intimating your claim”. 

If we already know the identity of the insurance company, we will deal directly with them.

Negotiations with the defenders from the other side

There then follows a series of dialogues with the legal representative from the other side’s insurers. This is where we show the evidence of why we believe the person or organisation was at fault and what value we have calculated the claim is worth. These discussions can take time and may require further evidence to prove the case.

Medical care and interim payments

For many people who have been involved in the accident, receiving rightful damages is only one element of making a claim. A lot of people need help immediately. Many cases where who was at fault is not disputed allows us to immediately access private medical care for you, for example access to physiotherapy. This helps you recover quicker and in turn means that your injuries will have less of a long-term effect.

Similarly, interim payments can be obtained if:

  • your financial circumstances mean you can’t work
  • you or your family are incurring large expenses

What is a good settlement offer?

Once a settlement offer is made, we will enter into discussions with the insurers as to what sum of money represents a reasonable valuation of your claim. If we consider that the insurance company is offering a fair sum, we will advise you of this. If the offer is too low, we may recommend raising the matter in court to help you obtain more.

When does a personal injury claim go to court?

Most cases do not go to court however a lot of cases will involve a court process. This is partly to make sure the defenders know that we are serious, and that we will not accept a sum of money which is significantly under the amount that the claim is worth.

If a court action is necessary, we will guide you through the process and keep you up to date. As already said it is unlikely to ever go physically into court and very rarely will you be required to attend.

How long does a personal injury claim take?

Every claim is different and although some cases can be dealt with relatively quickly, the process of claiming compensation can take a while. This is usually to protect your interests as cases which settle immediately have not been properly investigated.

In fact, it is often not wise to try and settle a claim too quickly because it can take time to find out the full effects of an accident and the injuries that you have suffered, and sometimes injuries take longer than expected to resolve. Until we have a complete picture, it would not be appropriate to settle your claim as we will not be in a position to put an accurate value on the compensation that you may be entitled to.

Unsure if you have a personal injury claim?

Many people don’t know who was at fault or whether it is possible to make a claim. Don’t put it off as you only have a limited time before the evidence starts to fade. We are always happy to have a chat and give you advice, even if it is to simply say whether we can help or not.


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