In a personal injury or medical negligence claim, a person who has been harmed either physically or psychologically makes a claim—typically for financial compensation—against the person they believe caused the harm. In most cases, the matter is decided out of court, but in some instances the court system may become involved.
Personal injury and medical negligence
Personal injury cases involve harm done by one person to another. Medical negligence is a kind of personal injury claim that specifically focuses on harm done by a medical practitioner.
Examples of personal injury include a wide range of situations that can occur at work, in the home, or in public. For instance:
- An illness caused by exposure to harmful chemicals at work.
- An injury that occurs in a public area due to lack of adequate maintenance. For instance, if a wet floor isn’t marked at such, and someone slips and is injured, they may have a personal injury claim.
- An injury occurs as a result of normal use of a purchased product.
- Someone is injured or killed in a car accident.
Medical negligence is a kind of personal injury that occurs as a result of the actions of a medical professional. For example:
- A person with a documented penicillin allergy is prescribed and given penicillin in hospital, and has a life-threatening reaction.
- A patient falls and is injured while showering because they didn’t have the necessary assistance.
- A patient undergoes surgery and dies as a result of complications that go unnoticed.
What to do if you suffer a personal injury
If you are hurt either physically or psychologically by someone else’s behaviour, there are some things that need to be done to prepare for making a claim. For instance, it’s important to document the incident in writing as soon as possible after the event, while it’s fresh in your mind. Photos are another useful way to document what happened. If you suffer a physical injury that doesn’t need emergency treatment, visit your doctor to document your injuries.
If the incident happens at work or in a public space, you’ll also need to notify the relevant party—for instance, your employer, the owner of the building, or your local council. In the case of a traffic-related accident or a crime, it’s also important to report the incident to the police. And for traffic accidents, you may also need to notify your insurance company.
How can a solicitor help you with a personal injury case?
Due to the nature of personal injury claims, if you want to make any kind of claim for compensation, it’s important to pursue the matter through a solicitor. Personal injury law is complicated, and there’s a lot that a solicitor can do to help you navigate the process.
At each stage of what is often a lengthy process, your solicitor can provide you with invaluable aid and advice, in addition to working as your advocate throughout.
In most cases your personal injury solicitor will try to resolve your claim outside of the court system, by negotiating with the solicitor of the other party. If you’re unable to reach an agreement, you then have the option of taking your claim to court. At this point your case will be assigned a judge and a hearing will be scheduled.
At the hearing, you and the defendant will each have a chance to state your case, and after listening to the evidence the judge makes their decision on whether a financial award is made.