You should also, if possible, write an account of the incident while details are still fresh in your mind. If there are witnesses, you should make a note of their names and addresses.If you then decide that you may have a case for claiming compensation for your injury, then you should consult a solicitor who is accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as specialising in accident and injury claims. Contact details for the Law Society of Scotland can be found below.
If you have sustained a personal injury you may be able to claim two types of compensation: general damages and special damages.
General damages are paid as compensation for an injury, for example, a payment for pain and suffering or loss of future earnings. The court will decide on the amount to be paid.
Special damages are paid as compensation for actual financial loss caused by the accident up to the date of the hearing. These can include damage to clothing or other belongings, the costs of care, travel costs to hospital, medical expenses (including the cost of private treatment) and the cost of hiring and/or repairing a car if it has been damaged in the accident.
If a court decides that you were partly to blame for the accident, it may reduce the amount of damages you receive. An example of this would be if you were not wearing a seat belt when you were involved in a traffic accident.
If you have been receiving certain social security benefits because of an accident in which you sustained a personal injury, you may have to pay these back out of any compensation you get. The rules about deduction from benefits are complex, and you are urged to seek professional advice.
There are different time limits within which you must begin legal action in a personal injury claim. The most common claim in a personal injury case is negligence, and the time limit for this is three years. This means that court proceedings must be issued within three years of your first being aware that you have suffered an injury.
If you are considering taking legal action and have not yet been to a solicitor, you will need to be aware of the time limits for taking action and should seek help from an experienced adviser.
A no win no fee agreement means that if you win a case you must pay your solicitor’s fees and expenses from the damages you receive. If you lose, you will not have to pay fees to your own solicitor, but you may have to pay the other side’s costs. Your solicitor will normally advise you to take out insurance to cover this.The most important thing to remember is to get proper legal advice at the earliest possible stage.
Norman Geddes is senior director with Ayr-based solicitors Frazer Coogans, who have a dedicated Accidentclaims.com at their offices in Dalblair Road.
The Law Society of Scotland is at 26 Drumsheugh Gardens Edinburgh EH3 7YR.
Telephone: 0131 226 7411.