When faced with seemingly prohibitive legal fees, many people wonder whether they ought to make a personal injury claim themselves. If you have suffered an accident or injury, then you may well be entitled to compensation. Your compensation claim will be particularly strong if the accident or injury was not your fault, for instance, if a drunk driver barrelled into you on the road or if your employer negligently did not provide you with the correct safety equipment for a risky task.
Though it may seem less time consuming and expensive to do your personal injury claim yourself, there are certain things that are important to bear in mind. Below, you will find a handy guide to do it yourself personal injury claims and a lowdown of the pros and cons of doing so when you are up against a solicitor.
How do you go about bringing a personal injury claim yourself?
First of all, you need to be clear of the facts. Luckily, the circumstances in which it is possible to bring a personal injury claim are relatively straightforward. All that you need is to have suffered an injury or an accident due to the negligence of a third party. For example, if you are a chemist your employer provides you with heat proof gloves in a laboratory but you do not wear them and burn your fingers, it will be rather difficult to bring a personal injury claim against your employer because it was you who was negligent. However, if your employer failed to provide you with the gloves, or if they provide you with defective gloves, and you are injured as a result, then you can bring a personal injury claim against them because it is they (a third party) who was negligent.
It is important to establish a clear causal chain. A third party needs to have been negligent, and that negligence needs to have caused you an injury. It is not enough for you to feel injured. For instance, if you are dissatisfied with your doctor's curt bedside manner, or if you feel that you should have had blue sheets rather than pink in hospital this is not cause for a personal injury claim. You may feel strongly about these matters, but the hospital has not been negligent. However, if your doctor does not stitch up a wound properly then they have been negligent and you can bring a claim against them for any pain or injuries that you suffer as a result.
Now you know the facts, assemble as much relevant evidence as you need. File freedom of information requests if possible to gain access to data such as CCTV footage, your medical records, and your employer's safety documentation. List all of the steps in the causal chain that links a third party's negligence to your injury and find evidence for each step if you can. Now, your claim is ready to go!
Going to court
The vast majority of personal injury claims do not make it to court. So, you do not need to be the world's best orator to file such a claim - you simply need to amass evidence and file the claim. All of this can be done by post or even online (though make sure to keep copies of any documents that you send in case they are lost, and do not delete any emails that you send so that you maintain a 'paper trail'). Most claims will be settled by the third party you are claiming against.
Should I go against a solicitor?
There are a wide array of legal pitfalls involved in making a claim, especially if the party you are looking to sue has a solicitor. Much of the financial risk on you will be removed if you use a no win no fee solicitor such as www.winwales.co.uk. That said, solicitors are bound by the law. Even if the third party you are claiming against has hired a solicitor, if you can prove that their negligence caused your injury then their solicitor will almost certainly advise them to pay you compensation and settle the claim.
If your claim does go to court, and you feel worried about opposing a trained legal professional in a battle of words, you could hire a solicitor of your own at this point. Otherwise, make sure to write down your argument clearly to ensure you get your point across.