Recently, the Law Society’s solicitor chat discussed accidents in winter and how your solicitor can help you if you have been affected. Here is a summary of the discussion and the ways we can help you.
Do you notice a rise in personal injury claims during the winter months?
Yes, the roads and footpaths can be particularly dangerous in the winter months; darker nights and poor visibility mean that we tend to see a rise in road traffic accident and tripping claims. The number of enquiries increase from road users, pedestrians and cyclists. But it does not necessarily mean that there is a rise in personal injury claims. As with any type of personal injury claim, it must have enough prospects of success in order to be pursued.
Talk us through the process of making a personal injury claim
If you have had an accident, the first thing to do is to contact a solicitor, like our Ian Williams, who can advise you of the process. He will be happy to provide free advice over the phone to see whether you are eligible for a claim. Ian will take down the details of the claim and he will establish whether the prospects are good enough to proceed. Discussions will then take place in respect of how the matter is to be funded. Once funding is agreed, we will send you our client care letter and ask you for some identification. Once the client care documents have been signed, we will open a file. The allegations of negligence or breach of duty can be sent to the Defendant and they will investigate and provide an admission or denial of liability. Broadly speaking, if this is admitted, we will obtain medical evidence and look to negotiate a settlement. If it is denied, we will obtain reasons plus disclosure documents supporting the denial and assess the case. If denial is still maintained and prospects are good, we will issue proceedings to resolve the matter. You will have to undergo a medical examination with an independent expert and your we will ask you to provide details of your financial losses. Once the evidence is complete, we can negotiate settlement with the other side.
What information will we need you to provide if you need to make a personal injury claim?
Information is vital. The more detailed information you can provide the better, the most important pieces of information are the accident date and location. You will need to be able to provide witness details if applicable. You will need to provide as much information as possible about the circumstances of the accident, including the events leading up to and after the accident, including details of any hospital/GP attendance (when & where) and provide photographs of any injuries. Set out items you have lost and support this with documents and receipts. If you have reported the incident, full details of to whom and when it was reported are important.
If an accident is caused by bad weather, what are your rights when it comes to making a personal injury claim?
An accident in bad weather does not bring an automatic right to pursue a claim for compensation. For there to be a basis of a legal claim, there must be negligence or a breach of duty of care on the part of the Defendant which could, for example, be a local authority or landowner. As each accident is assessed on a case-by-case basis, the best thing to do is to speak to our Ian Williams as soon as possible who will be able to advise you whether you have a potential clam. You have 3 years from the date of the accident to bring a claim (i.e., court proceedings must be issued). If you have a viable claim, you must submit a Claim Notification Form or Letter of Claim to the Defendant and expect a substantive response in relation to liability within 3 months from acknowledgement. Remember, it is not just snow and ice which can cause accidents in bad weather. Flying debris as a result of high winds can also be very dangerous.
Who is responsible for making sure public areas are safe in icy conditions?
Local Councils have a legal obligation to ensure all pavements, paths and highways are safe to travel upon, however, the law accepts that councils will not have the resources or ability to clear snow and ice from every pathway. The situation is different if the local authority or Highways Authority were warned about the state of a pathway and failed to react. In this instance, it is highly likely that they would be held responsible for any injuries. However, with privately owned land, such as car parks, the landowner is responsible for maintaining customer safety and they will have their own procedures to follow. If you do not know who that is, your solicitor will conduct searches to obtain this information.
If you have had an accident and wish for expert advice, please contact Ian Williams on 01492 874774 to discuss your claim today.