Personal injury FAQs

Personal injury FAQs

I was injured by a hit-and-run driver. Is there any way I can get compensation, even though I didn’t see the number plate and don’t have any way of tracing the driver?

Yes, you may be able to claim compensation from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau. You (or a solicitor acting for you) will need to make an application in writing. To be eligible, you will need to have made a report to the police no later than 14 days after the incident occurred. If you make an application, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau will investigate the claim. They will, however, only make an award if they are satisfied that the hit-and-run driver would have been liable to pay damages to you, and will take into account any contributory negligence on your part.

My employer asked me to do some work at height, and supplied a ladder for me to use. The ladder gave way while I was on it. I fell and was injured. My employer says I’m on my own in looking after my injuries, since I “assumed the risk” when I used the ladder. Is he correct?

No, you might have a valid claim against your employer on several grounds. Your employer was probably in breach of his statutory duty under the health and safety laws (and in particular, requirements as to tools and specific provisions relating to work at height). It is also likely that he was negligent in allowing you to use a ladder that seems to have been broken or defective.

On the other hand, if your employer did not know that there was any problem with the ladder, but you knew that the ladder was likely to collapse and used it anyway, then your employer may be able to avoid some or all liability on the basis that your knowing use of the defective ladder was contributory negligence.

A few days ago I was hurt in an accident, but the injury was not so severe as to require immediate medical attention. Should I go see a doctor now or just let it go?

Sometimes injuries can be serious even though there is no immediate pain or other symptom. In particular, people who experience head injuries or whiplash sometimes do not at first realise how seriously they have been injured. So it is wise to see a doctor. In addition, if you believe that the injury may have been someone else’s fault, then in order to bring a claim you will need some medical evidence as to the extent of the injury.

I work for a small company. The owner of the company recently told all of the employees that he can no longer afford to maintain employers’ liability insurance. He said that in order to keep our jobs, we must all agree to work at our own risk. Is that legal?

Except for government-run enterprises and businesses that only employ the owner and family members, anyone employing people in Great Britain is required to maintain employers’ liability insurance. A company is not required to provide employers’ liability insurance for independent contractors, but for regular employees who work under a service agreement, have PAYE and NI deducted from the wages, etc., an employer must maintain employers’ liability insurance. The Health and Safety Executive can fine an employer for each working day that the employer operates without employers’ liability insurance.

I was in a shop and was injured when a shop assistant foolishly tried to step onto a flimsy shelf in order to reach something on a higher shelf. The shelf gave way and he fell on me. Since the accident occurred because of his foolishness, do I have to make a claim directly against him, or can I claim against his employer?

Although the shop assistant was negligent, his negligent behaviour was in the course of his employment so there will be vicarious liability on the part of his employer. That means that the employer will be responsible, and you can bring your claim against the employer. (NB. In practice, it will probably be the employer’s insurer who will pay out on the claim.)

After I am injured, how much time do I have to take legal action against the person who was responsible for my injury?

The limitation period for person injury claims is three years from the date of injury. If the injury is one that was not immediately apparent, or that occurred gradually over a long period of time (such as a respiratory disease), then you have three years from the date you discovered or should have discovered the injury. In some cases, a court will allow legal action after the limitation period has expired, but in general you should not rely on being able to get an extension.

Where do I find a solicitor who can help me with a personal injury claim?

A solicitor who specialises in personal injury law will be able to evaluate your claim and help you decide how to proceed. To find a solicitor, you can use online search engines and check the Law Society website . Alternatively, you may want to use a free solicitor matching service, such as Contact Law , to do the job for you.

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