Personal injury explained: A guide to the range of injuries covered by one term

If you’ve ever been watching television during the day, you will no doubt have seen adverts from legal firms saying that you may be able to claim compensation if you’ve ever developed an illness as a result of the job you do, been involved in a car accident or received bad medical treatment.

All of these are considered to be claims covered by the term ‘personal injury’. As you can see, this term covers a wide range of different types of claim, which also includes accidents at work, injury or illness sustained while out in public and injuries as a result of being involved in a Road Traffic Accident (RTA).

In this article, we will outline the variety of things that ‘personal injury’ covers, how the process for claiming compensation can differ for each and how the person or organisation you are seeking compensation from can differ, as well as the different levels of compensation for each personal injury type.

Workplace Injury

This one really is very simple; a ‘workplace injury’ is a one-off injury that happens while you are carrying out your job. The term ‘Workplace injury’ also includes injuries sustained if you are assaulted by a colleague at work or mental health issues that arise as a result of workplace bullying and harassment.

There is, however, a distinction that needs to be made when considering injuries that have occurred while you are working though.

A ‘workplace injury’ is a one-off injury that happens while you are working. For example, if you slip and break your hip because someone has left a puddle in the hallway outside the office kitchen, that is a workplace injury. Similarly, if you injure your back while delivering a package elsewhere as part of your job, that is also a ‘workplace injury’. To be clear; workplace injury doesn’t have to happen in your main place of work. They can occur anywhere you work as part of your job.

Industrial Injury

An ‘industrial injury’, meanwhile, is an injury or illness that develops over time because of the job you do. For example, if you develop hearing problems because you work in a noisy factory, but your employer hasn’t supplied you with adequate ear defenders, that would be classed as an industrial injury.

In both cases, these types of injury are covered by the same legal responsibilities, as a large assortment of legislation, such as the Factories Act or the Health and Safety at Work Act, require your employer to ensure the maintenance of a safe working environment, make sure that you have been fully and properly trained in all workplace processes – including how to safely operate any machinery – and supply you with any Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), such as ear defenders and a hard hat, you need to wear to keep yourself protected from any clear hazards while you are working. On this point, it is also the responsibility of your employer to ensure the use of necessary PPE is enforced.

If your employer has failed to do any of the above, and you are then injured or develop an industrial illness later in life, you can seek compensation from them.

Road Traffic Accident/RTA

This includes any accident that has occurred on roads or motorways regardless of if you are the driver, a passenger or a pedestrian and includes all vehicle types, be it a car, van, HGV, motorbike or bicycle.

The person you would be seeking compensation from would be the person who has caused the accident. In cases where the person responsible was driving at the time on behalf of an employer – say a haulage company or a taxi firm – it may be that you would seek compensation from their employer. In most RTA cases, compensation claims are paid out by the insurance company that covers the person at fault, be it their personal policy or their employer’s. You should also be aware that these claims would be for both any injuries you have suffered as well as the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle.

For example, if a car drove through a red light and into your vehicle, breaking your leg and damaging your vehicle beyond repair, you would be able to seek compensation from the driver for both the damages caused by your leg being broken, including medical costs and loss of earnings, as well as the cost of replacing the vehicle that has been written off.

Public Space/Public Liability

Put simply, public liability cases, also known as Public Space claims, are ones where you are seeking compensation from a public body, such as your local council, for any injuries you suffer on public highways and byways – the roads and pavements in layman’s terms – because that highway or byway hasn’t been properly maintained. This is because councils are legally responsible for the maintenance of public highways and byways and so, are potentially considered responsible if any accidents or injuries occur because they have been poorly maintained.

Therefore, as ‘personal injury’ can also apply to damage inflicted on a person’s property, if the suspension of your car broke after you drove over a pothole on a poorly-maintained road, for example, you may be able to claim the cost of repairing against your local council as part of a personal injury claim for any physical injuries you may have suffered.

When making a Public Liability claim, it is a good idea to gather as much evidence as possible showing that the injury you suffered is as a result of the badly-maintained highway or byway. Therefore, if you are able to take photographs of the state of the road or pavement as soon after the incident occurred as possible, this will definitely help to strengthen your case and make it more likely to be successful.

Private Space/Occupiers Liability

In contrast, private or occupiers liability cases are ones where you are seeking compensation for injuries that have been suffered within premises regardless of if the owner of the premises is a public body or a privately-held organisation, as both have a duty of care to ensure all reasonable steps have been taken to prevent accidents from occurring on their premises.

Therefore, if you were injured after slipping on a wet floor while out shopping in your local supermarket or cut your hand on a faulty piece of equipment in your local council-operated leisure centre, you could pursue the supermarket or the council for the damages you have suffered.

Personal Injury Compensation Guidelines

As the term ‘personal injury’ covers a broad range of injury types, this means that the guidelines for the level of compensation an injured person may be entitled to can vary greatly as well. Much of this will also depend upon the severity of the personal injury that has been suffered as well as your personal circumstances.

For example, if you work in an office and you slipped in your local supermarket, breaking your wrist, and this caused you to miss a week at work before you eventually make a full recovery, the level of compensation would be less than if you were a lorry driver who slipped in your local supermarket and it resulted in you losing the sight in one eye as you hit your head on a shelf as you fell.

This is because the latter would be a significant life-changing injury, the effects of which would be felt for the rest of your life and which could result in you no longer being able to work, no longer being able to drive and which could significantly affect your quality of life going forward. It should be said when considering these examples that neither of these claims would be more ‘valid’ than the other; both would be equally valid as they would be the result of the supermarket’s owner failing to ensure all reasonable steps have been taken to prevent accidents from happening on the premises. All these factors would be raised by your solicitor when they are negotiating with the other side. In the unlikely event your case did end up going to court, these factors would also be considered by a judge when deciding the compensation due to you.

It is important to take legal advice when considering making a claim too. At The Compensation Experts, we work with specialist personal injury legal firms who have a proven track record in successful personal injury compensation claims. After your initial consultation with our advisors about your particular circumstances, which is done on a free no-obligation basis, we will match you with the firm who best suits the circumstances of your case. If you do then decide to progress your case, your solicitor will gather all evidence that is available and will contact any witnesses to help build the strongest possible case to support your personal injury compensation claim. This evidence will be used not only to prove your entitlement to compensation but also to show the extent of your physical, emotional and financial suffering to ensure the amount you receive is fair.

As shown above, ‘personal injury’ covers a wide range of areas. Because of this, we and the legal firms we work with have a lot of experience in these cases and so, are well-placed to help you get the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to.

If you have sustained any type of personal injury and want to know if you are entitled to compensation, do not hesitate to contact The Compensation Experts via the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8765.