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Can I still bring a personal injury claim during the coronavirus pandemic?

View profile for Dan Thompson
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With the UK currently on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, there have understandably been a lower number of accidents on our roads and at work as people are required to stay at home, only making journeys for essential trips.  For those who were considering bringing a personal injury claim prior to lockdown, or if you have had an accident over the last few weeks, you may be wondering whether you are still able to.  Dan Thompson, Personal Injury Partner, explains here how we are working to help you, giving a useful reminder of the applicable time limits to bring a claim and reviews the impact that the pandemic is having on the progress of claims.

Time limits to bring a personal injury claim

Following an accident that was caused by another person’s or organisation’s negligence, you may be able to bring a claim for compensation.  There is a time limit to be able to do so which, for the majority of claims, is within three years of the accident or knowledge of the injury.  There are several exceptions to this, including:

  • if you were under 18 years of age when the accident happened – in this situation you have 3 years from the date of your 18th birthday to bring a claim.
  • if the accident took place in an airport, on a plane or at sea.

While it is rare, the Courts will occasionally grant an extension on this time limit depending on the nature and severity of your injuries so if you are in any doubt, we would always advise that you contact us to discuss your own situation further.

How is coronavirus impacting the ability to bring a claim?

The coronavirus pandemic is naturally having an impact on all of our lives, and while our offices are currently closed for face to face appointments, our Personal Injury team is working remotely and is here to support you. 

There will of course be certain areas that will be delayed due to the pandemic, for example, for those accidents caused by employer negligence, there may be some delay if your employer is currently closed or working with a restricted number of employees. 

Part of making your claim is for you to be examined by an independent medical practitioner to provide us with a medical report regarding the extent and severity of your injuries.  The NHS has obviously had to restructure to prioritise the recovery of coronavirus patients in their hospitals and so this may also be an area that is delayed.   However, we have many relationships with different medical experts who are using new and innovative ways to work with patients and our clients.

Rehabilitation will be a key part of your recovery and this has also had to re-focus with the demand on the NHS and because of the current social distancing requirements.  Some rehabilitation experts are finding alternative methods to provide their services, for example through video conferencing and offering online guidance.

How to make a personal injury claim

The first step is often the hardest in situations such as these, and you will have many questions regarding how to make a claim as well as other concerns, particularly if you are bringing a claim against your employer.  We are here to answer those questions and to put your mind at rest.

Once you have had an initial conversation with a member of our team and we have confirmed that you have a legitimate claim, in order to act for you to make a claim against an individual, organisation or your employer, we require the following information:

  • The details of the accident, injury or exposure to industrial disease, including:
    • Date and time
    • Location
    • Circumstances that led to the accident
    • Injuries or illnesses you have sustained
    • Other parties involved
    • The impact it has had on your day to day life
  • Medical information, for example if you attended A&E or an appointment with your GP following the injury.
  • Any accident or police reports that were made at the time.
  • Details on the financial impact the injury has had on your life, for example any loss of earnings, expenses etc.
  • Other evidence that could assist with confirming liability, such as photos or videos.

Once we have this information from you, we contact the other party to confirm whether they accept liability.  If they do, we will work on your behalf to negotiate an appropriate settlement figure, and if they do not they we will make preparations to go to Court.  Even during the coronavirus pandemic, our Courts are still working to ensure access to justice for all and are making changes in the way they manage cases, such as video conferencing. 

Dan concludes, “If you were considering bringing a claim prior to the lockdown and are now planning to wait until after the pandemic has eased, we would always advise to bear in mind the time limits involved, and remind you that we are still open to answer your questions about your next steps.  Delaying may not only impact the time limits and your ability to bring a claim, but could also be detrimental for your health if you are delaying access to recovery, rehabilitation or medical appointments, which will be particularly pertinent if you believe you have been exposed to asbestos, for example.  While we are all living in new and uncertain times, it is always better to pick up the phone and ask the question, and we are here to support you.”

To discuss your personal injury claim with Dan or a member of the Personal Injury team you can contact them today on 0800 91 92 30 or email injuryteam@warnergoodman.co.uk

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.