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What Kind of Evidence Will I Need?
It is a common requirement of a case to get evidence to support your personal injury claim, regardless of whether the defendant accepts or denies liability.
Your solicitor will advise you on the type(s) of evidence required to support your claim and will help you to obtain it through independent experts or witness statements.
After obtaining the evidence, your lawyer will examine the evidence, provide you with their advice on how the case should be progressed, and forward the evidence to you for examination.
Common Types of Evidence
Engineer's reports are required in certain types of accident at work cases, or in mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease claims.
In accident at work claims, an engineer’s report is usually required when the claim revolves around a particular piece of equipment malfunctioning, or a particular type of process in an industrialised setting that has in some way ‘gone wrong’, causing the injury. The defendant’s insurer may put request strict proof as to the mechanism of the accident, which is why an engineer’s report is useful to support your account of the accident.
In mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease cases, an engineer’s report may be required as these cases regularly revolve around a demonstration that the workplace or area in which you were exposed to asbestos fibres that trigger the disease was not operating within the correct safety parameters and left you vulnerable to exposure.
Coroner's reports are usually required in cases where the accident or disease has caused the fatality of the claimant, and the claim is pursued on behalf of their estate. In mesothelioma cases, for example, clients do not always survive for the duration of the claim, due to the life expectancy of a mesothelioma sufferer.
A coroner’s report will identify the cause of death. So using mesothelioma cases as an example again, a report can identify the presence of asbestos fibres in the body and lend great strength to the case.
In serious cases, your solicitor or a medical expert may recommend that a care expert visits you at home to observe your living conditions and see what assistance you require as a result of your accident.
After visiting you, the care expert will prepare a report outlining what assistance you may require, which could be anything from a care worker to specially formed utensils. The assistance you require will depend on the severity of your injuries and the nature of their impact upon your life.
The care report will then form part of your case, as provision will need to be made to pay for the recommendations it makes to ensure your pre-accident standard of living is maintained.
Reports and data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are used in a variety of personal injury claims. The HSE acts to reduce work-related injury and death across the UK and so will investigate anything where either the working environment, or a piece of equipment exposed to the public, is malfunctioning.
The HSE’s reports are carried out independently of your lawyer, as they are an independent watchdog. However, the findings from an HSE report can be a contributing factor on a liability decision made by the defendant’s side. For example, if an HSE report finds that the defendant has been negligent, then they are in a poor position to deny liability and this lends strength to your case.
In order to get medical evidence, you will have to be examined by an independent medical expert, who will prepare a report on your injuries. The report will outline the injuries, their likely causes, and provide a prognosis for recovery, as well as any further action they propose you take.
The decision to appoint a specific medical expert will be agreed by your lawyer and the defendant’s side. Your lawyer will provide a list of suitable experts to the defendant’s side, and nominate their preferred expert from the list. Unless the defendant’s side objects to the nomination, it is this expert that will examine you.
Your lawyer will help you to get in touch with the medical expert; however, it is up to you and the expert to agree on a convenient appointment.
Witness statements can strengthen your case by supporting your version of events and demonstrating the effects the injury has had on your life.
There are generally two types of witness statements:
- Those provided by individuals who witnessed your accident
- Those provided by your family and friends after the accident, which highlights the effect it has had on your life
Your lawyer will advise you on what witness statements may be required for your case, and will assist in getting them by conducting a telephone interview with the witnesses. It is important to make sure you get the contact details from anyone who has witnessed your accident so your lawyer is able to collect a statement from them.
Remember, the defendant can also gather witness statements from individuals that may support the defendant. Your lawyer will advise if this has been the case, and how it may affect your case.
Occupational Health Reports
Occupational health reports are usually required in accident at work cases, and help to demonstrate that the working practices your employer had in place were not appropriate to prevent injuries.
In this sense, they serve a similar role to that of an engineer’s report; however, they have more scope to be used across the entire employment spectrum.
Evidence of Financial Losses
The idea of compensation for a personal injury is to try and put you back in the position that you would have been in had the accident never happened. When we are working out how much your case is worth, we need to understand what financial losses your injuries have caused you.
It may be that you have had to spend money on transportation, had to pay for medical prescriptions, or had to take time off work and received reduced pay as a result.
By providing us with any information of the financial impact your injury has had on you, we can look to include these additional expenses to ensure that your compensation covers everything that it should do.
Checking the Evidence
Your solicitor will receive any supporting evidence reports on behalf of your case, check them for accuracy - there are rare occasions where an expert will make a factual mistake, usually a typographical error - and assess the evidence’s benefit to your case. They will then be passed to you to be checked.
Once you are happy with the evidence, we will give you our professional opinion of what the next steps should be on your case. There are typically three steps that will be advised by your solicitor.
Accept the Evidence, Disclose it and Proceed to Settlement
If your solicitor believes that the supporting evidence on your case is accurate, it is likely that they will advise you to disclose the evidence to the defendant’s side.
When disclosing evidence, your solicitor may advise you to make an offer to settle the case. This will either encourage the defendant to meet your offer or open negotiations. Alternatively, your lawyer may advise you to simply disclose the evidence and invite the defendant to make an offer.
The defendant’s side will either accept your offer, make a counter offer, begin negotiation an offer or reject it. Your solicitor will advise you on what action to take following a response from the defendant.
Accept the Evidence, Wait for Prognosis to Play Out and Proceed to Settlement
Your solicitor may advise that while the current evidence for your case is accurate, it is appropriate to wait to see if the injuries heal in line with the prognosis before seeking a settlement.
This advice is usually given when a client’s injuries are complex and the medical evidence suggests that there will be a lengthy recovery period.
It is important to remember that any settlement you agree is final, so if your symptoms worsen, you are not able to revisit the claim.
Reject and Seek Further Evidence
Your solicitor may advise that the evidence they have is not enough to support your case. This may be because the evidence has thrown up new developments that should be considered. For example, a medical report may suggest a client undergoes an additional examination or a certain form of treatment.
Alternatively, your lawyer may simply feel that the evidence they have received is not appropriate to your case. An example of this is when a medical report does not fully explore your injuries. In this instance, you may be advised to seek further evidence before taking any action.
Once your solicitor is confident that they are in possession of appropriate evidence, they will advise you about disclosing it.
Not Satisfied With Your Solicitor?
If you are not satisfied by how the law firm you have appointed is handling your case, we offer a “Check My Claim” service so you can get a second opinion on the service you are receiving from your current solicitor.
We can check your claim if:
- Your case has been mishandled or progress has taken too long
- You have been told your claim is not worthwhile pursuing
- You are not happy with the amount of compensation you have been told you will receive
- Your solicitor has settled your case on a lower amount of compensation that you feel you deserve
For more information on how you can switch solicitors, take a look at our dedicated page.
Talk to Us
To speak to an expert about an injury that was caused by somebody else’s negligence and your right to make a claim, contact JMW today. Our solicitors are waiting to hear from you and are happy to answer any questions you may have.