Personal injury claims, regardless of whether they are made on grounds of intent, negligence or strict liability, come down to proving liability and quantifying damages. In other words, we have to ask if a defendant is liable for damages sustained and if they are, what those damages are and how big they are. Proving liability and damages will ordinarily result in compensation. Personal injury claims are important because they allow victims who suffer from serious injury a way to recover any loss incurred.
Grounds for Personal Injury Claims
There are, as we said, three grounds for personal injury claims: intent, negligence or strict liability.
Negligence is the most common ground for claims. Negligence exists where a person’s failures to behave in a way that a reasonable person would judge as according to ordinary prudence. For instance, if a hunter were to carelessly fire his rifle into a crowd, that would be considered negligent.
Strict liability exists where a person is held liable for their actions, regardless of their state or mind or intentions when they performed them. For instance, if a person suffers an injury because of a defective product, the manufacturer can be held liable even if they were not negligent or intended to harm anyone.
Intentional wrongs are so when the defendant intentionally did something. Examples of intentional torts are assault, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and trespassing on land or chattels.
Causes of Action
Personal injury claims arise from harm done to a person’s body. For example:
- Automobile accidents
- Medical practice
- Nursing home abuse
- Product defect accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Toxic torts
Personal injury claims may also arise from non-bodily harm. Examples:
- False detention, arrest or imprisonment
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
- Invasion of privacy
- Malicious prosecution
Process for Seeking Compensation
Typically, a solicitor or personal injury specialist, will offer a client a free initial interview in which they will make a case assessment. Often, the client will be offered a conditional fee agreement in which the solicitor or personal injury specialist will fund the claim and only get paid if they win the case. This is why a conditional fee agreement is also referred to as a “no win, no fee” agreement. This puts your personal injury specialist’s skin in the game, so that their interests are aligned with yours and you have the freedom to pursue a claim without worrying about costs. The potential costs of seeking compensation are one of the reasons why so many people never seek compensation, even though there exist options such as conditional fee agreements.
Most cases are resolved through negotiation. This is because both sides have incentives to not let a case go to the courts. The defendant is afraid that in the courts, they may face a larger compensation than what they can lock in during negotiations. The victim often needs the money urgently, so does not want to draw things out in court, where they also face the possibility of an adverse ruling. The result is that negotiated settlements are fairly common.
Time to Receive Compensation
The severity of the initial injury and the category that injury falls under, determines how long a person has to wait till they get their compensation. Slight personal injury cases, which have been dealt with through the Ministry of Justice’s portal, are typically resolved within three to nine months and involve payouts of up to £25,000.
Clinical negligence, to give an example of a more long-drawn out process, can take several years to resolve. This is because the victim’s prognosis is often difficult to determine and gathering all the evidence and correctly assessing it is complex and time-consuming.