Personal injury claims are one of the most common types of civil lawsuits brought by individuals.
Before lodging a claim, it is important you understand the different types of injury claims, the limitation periods involved, your potential damages and how to file the lawsuit.
Given complex court rules, you should engage an experienced solicitor to help you navigate the process.
What is a personal injury?
A personal injury for which compensation can be sought is as an injury caused by the negligent or wrongful acts of another person or entity. In order to establish a claim, you must prove the negligent party owed you a duty of care and that they breached that duty. You must also demonstrate that their breach is causally connected to your resulting injury. Finally, you must show that you suffered harm as a result. Because not all injuries meet the necessary criteria, not every incident is eligible for compensation.
Can I sue for an injury that was partly my fault?
The law also takes into account situations in which fault is apportioned between parties, because everyone owes a duty of reasonable care. For example, if you were struck by a car while crossing the road, the motorist may have been negligent. If you crossed the road in a prohibited area or against a red light and were struck by a car, a court may find that the motorist was not negligent and your own negligence caused your accident. If it is determined that both you and the motorist were negligent, then any award you might receive will be reduced by the percentage of negligence for which you were responsible.
How to sue a company for personal injury
There are several types of personal injury claims, with each governed by different laws and subject to strict time limits. The categories of personal injury claims include the following:
- Injuries to victims of crime
- Injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents
- Work injuries
- Other personal injuries
A solicitor can review the circumstances of your case to determine if you have valid legal grounds to file a personal injury claim. After you have learned from your solicitor about whether or not you have a valid claim, you can initiate the process:
- File initiating documents with the court.
The initiating documents will outline the rights that you believe were infringed and the grounds on which your claim is based.
- Serve the initiating documents on the organisation that you believe is responsible.
There are specific procedures that you must follow to properly serve the defendant organisation. It is recommended that you consult a solicitor to ensure you comply with these strict requirements.
- Await the defendant’s answer.
The business will either admit responsibility for the injury or deny the allegations. Where an organisation denies negligence, it must subsequently file a reply within a designated time period. This reply will provide you with an outline as to what the defendant is denying. Proceedings will then commence.
- Enter the discovery period.
After the lawsuit has been initiated, there will be a discovery period in which each side is required to provide the other with evidence and documents to support their claim. At any time during this period, you may be able to reach an agreement to settle your claim. Your solicitor will negotiate with the defendant or the insurance company in order to settle your claim for a fair amount.
- Go to trial if no settlement is reached.
If you are unable to reach an agreement, the matter will progress to trial. This process may take anywhere from 6 to 12 months. If you cannot to afford to pay for a solicitor, you may be able to work with a no-win, no-fee lawyer, who you will not be required to pay unless your claim is settled or won.
How long after an accident can you sue?
Personal injury claims are governed by strict time limits, so it is important you speak to a solicitor as soon as possible after your injury has occurred. If you miss the limitation period deadline, you may be unable to file your claim and may be barred from recovering your losses.
The Limitations of Actions Act 1974 (Qld) specifies a three-year time limit for injury claims. For injured children, the three-year time limit only begins to run on their 18th birthday.
In some cases the three-year time limit can be extended.
Accidents on airlines must be commenced withing two years,.
In some consumer type cases, the injury time limit is six years.
Important points to remember if you’re considering claiming for personal injury include:
- Personal injury claims allow people who have been injured by the negligent actions of others to recover damages. The damages are intended to compensate the injured party for their losses so as to place them in the same position they would be in, had the incident not occurred.
- To have a claim, there must be a duty of care, the defendant must have breached that duty of care, that breach must have contributed to the cause of the injury, and you must have suffered harm as a result of the injury.
- You may still be able to make a claim if you were partially responsible for the accident.
- There are strict time limits for personal injury claims, so ensure you understand those before you commencing any legal action.