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17 Personal Injury

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1. Introduction

2. What is a personal injury?

3. What action can I take?

There are several things you can do, depending on what you want.

  • You may want someone to explain or apologise and try to ensure no-one else is hurt in the same way. See 'If you just want to make a complaint' for more on this.
  • You may want support or counselling to help you deal with what has happened to you (or to someone close to you). See 'Further Help' for organisations that can help you or put you in touch with support groups for your particular problem.
  • You may need help with money problems resulting from the injury (for example, because you haven't been able to work). The Community Legal Service leaflets 'Dealing with Debt' and 'Welfare Benefits' have more information about this.  See also 'What can I claim compensation for'.
  • You may want compensation for money you've had to pay (or money you've lost) because of your injury, including any psychological injury (if you now suffer from depression, for example). Depending on your case, you may be able to get some money paid to you before your claim has been dealt with fully.                                                

If you just want to make a complaint

If your injury was caused by a business or organisation (for example, a shop), but was a minor injury, you may not want to take legal action. You may be happy with:

  • an apology;
  • an explanation of what went wrong so that it doesn't happen to someone else; and
  • perhaps, a token 'goodwill' payment.

Depending on who was responsible for your injuries, you may be able to use an organisation's official complaints procedure. For example, if you suffered a minor injury when you tripped on an uneven pavement, you could use the complaints procedure of the council that maintains the pavement. Reporting accidents like this could stop another person being more seriously injured.

If you are unhappy with how your complaint was handled, you could still take legal action for compensation in the same way as if your injury had been more serious. However, organisations can take a long time to deal with official complaints, and there are time limits for starting legal action. So if you think you may want to take legal action do not delay (see 'How long do I have to make a claim?').

If you were injured because of medical treatment you were having under the NHS, you can use the NHS Complaints Procedure. See the CLS Direct leaflet 'Medical accidents' for more on what to do.

If you were injured by a police officer and you want to make a complaint (or take other action), see the CLS Direct leaflet 'Dealing with the police'.

If you want to claim compensation

If you want to claim compensation for a personal injury, you can:

  • ask a solicitor to make you claim for you;
  • use a claims assessor to negotiate compensation for you, or
  • use a claims managment company, which, for a fee, will arrange for a solicitor to deal with your case.

Consulting a solicitor does not necessarily mean you will be taking action in court. Most personal injury claims are settled through negotiation without a court hearing.

However, if you were injured because of a crime (for example, you were attacked), there are other options. See ' What if I am a victim of a crime? '.

Unlike other types of legal action, you cannot normally get public funding (legal aid) to help pay the legal costs of a personal injury case. However, there are other ways of helping to pay for your case. See ' What if I can't afford a solicitor?'.

4. How do I choose a solicitor?

5. What are claims assessors and claims management companies?

6. What if I was injured in a road accident?

7. What if I was injured by a faulty product or service?

8. What if I was injured in an accident abroad?

9. What if I can't afford a solicitor?

10. What can I claim compensation for?

11. What if I am claiming fro someone who has died?

12. What if I am claiming for a child?

13. What if I am one of a group of people injured in the same way?

14. What if I'm a victim of crime?

15. Further Help

16. About this leaflet

This leaflet was written in association with Roger Bolt of Bolt Burdon Kemp

Leaflet Version: October 2016

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Last updated on 24 June 2016

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