Personal Injury law is quite an emotive area of law to work in, and addresses matters that are very personal and of great everyday concern to the client. The outcomes of personal injury cases will affect people’s lives greatly one way or another. Unfortunately, it is only too easy to have an accident that results in a serious injury, be it at work, playing sport, on the road, or elsewhere.
Personal injury (PI) claims come under civil law, and are subject to the rules of tort law. When assessing a potential personal injury case, be it arising from a workplace accident or elsewhere, the PI lawyer is ultimately looking for a ‘breach.’ The lawyer is also seeking to see if the case meets all the elements and criteria of tort law; duty of care, breach of dirty, causation, remoteness, damage, etc.
The lawyer is assessing whether there was a breach of the employer’s duty of care towards thier employees, particularly regarding health and safety. However both tort law and employment law hold the employer liable for far more than just matters of health and safety at work.
In a work accident claim, the liability and duty of care of the employer is assumed, and has to be argued against, rather than proved. The breach of such responsibility and legal duty can manifest itself in many ways, which the PI lawyer has to be watchful for. Legal causation is similarly one of those elements of tort that is famous for being rather more complicated. However, addressing the issue of remoteness of (the possibility of) damage, applying the Wagon Mound (No1) case, makes that question much more straightforward. Overall, the elements of tort, and applying it to a specific personal injury claim, are actually quite straightforward. After learning the basic legal tests and rules (along with the attendant variations), it is a matter of using a ‘flowchart’ approach to see whether all those criteria of tort are met.
Inevitably, the classroom is always different to reality.
Putting that ‘flowchart’ into practice can be fairly daunting – but also relatively easy. A complicated and emotive matter such as a workplace injury can be neatly reduced and dissected to its core essentials, and the heart of the claim easily found. A convoluted series of events, and complicated injuries, can similarly be interpreted more easily. The structure and nature of the questions asked at each stage of the ‘flowchart’ are very descriptive, detailed and definite, and at the same time very open and flexible. As such, in most cases it will be evident early on whether the case before you will meet the required criteria.
With that in mind, injury compensation, whether the injury is a result of a workplace accident, car accident, or sporting accident, is a relatively straightforward area of law to practice. PI law can also be very rewarding. A client seeks advice making a claim against an employer having suffered sometimes dreadful injuries, and possibly unable to work and to earn for some time. Obtaining for that client an apology or compensation will really make an improvement for their situation. The PI lawyer is really having a regular impact upon the lives of their clients, and quite often for the better.
Unfortunately, a great many people get injured annually, either at work, on the roads, or elsewhere, and want to seek compensation or a legal remedy for thier accident. Consequently, PI is an area of law that is rarely affected by recessions, or has significant changes in the law that defines it. As Judge Lord Macmillan stated in 1932, “the categories of negligence are never closed.”
Further, the great majority of PI cases are often handled under a Conditional Fee Arrangement (CFA) regarding funding. Under a CFA, the claimant does not pay up front, with the PI lawyer only getting paid when the case is successfully resolved. Therefore, many injured in workplace accidents or similar will approach a PI lawyer and the resulting PI litigation not deterred by the financial cost. Further, as mentioned, it is relatively easy to make a rapid decision as to whether a PI claim will be successful or not, given the criteria and tests behind tort law and personal injury cases. When you actually get to court, you have already assessed that the PI claim before you has a very great margin of success. That is both good for you – and good for your client.