If several people are injured in a no-fault accident, it may be a good idea for all the affected individuals to file one claim together instead of filing individual claims. This type of collective claim is called a group compensation claim.
Any of these accidents may qualify for a group compensation claim:
- Public transport accidents – these could be road, railway, air or ship related accidents
- Exposure to toxic substances or environmental hazards such as chemical spills, contaminated soil or polluted water
- Acts of terrorism
- Faulty products causing injury – faulty cars is one example
- Outbreaks of food poisoning among a large number of diners who visited the same restaurant
- Mass use of a certain drug or other medication that had adverse effects on all or most recipients – for example several patients contracting Hepatitis C infections from receiving contaminated blood infusions
- Several workers in a workplace falling ill around the same time
- Industrial illness
Why Make A Group Compensation Claim?
Working together with others who have been injured in the same incident can be beneficial in many different ways. For one thing, you have a higher chance of winning compensation when you file a group claim as opposed to filing an individual claim. This is because everyone involved is both a victim and a witness, lending more weight to the claim. Every person affected by the incident can provide vital evidence, which can be put together to help build a strong case for compensation. Take for example food poisoning while you are on holiday. As an individual, you could find it difficult to prove that it was due to contaminated food you ate at a certain restaurant. However, if you were part of a group of holidaymakers and you file a group compensation claim for food poisoning, you will have a stronger case in your favour.
A group compensation claim also offers benefits other than legal. In most cases, these types of accidents are nothing less than traumatic. For many people, the outcome can be life-changing. Under such circumstances, nobody can understand the pain better than another person who has been injured in the same accident. Developing a support network between the accident victims and their families can offer immense solace to all concerned and can quicken the healing process.
How To Make A Group Compensation Claim
In an accident involving several people, entire families can have their lives turned upside down while handling the physical and emotional repercussions of their loved ones’ injuries. Under such circumstances, filing a legal claim for compensation can only add to the stress. In the majority of cases, this is put on hold till things get back to normal.
Unfortunately, a claim for compensation is not something that can be postponed forever. The statute of limitations for filing a group compensation claim is three years. This means you have to gather all the evidence, and file the claim in court within 3 years from the date of the incident or illness diagnosis.
Instead of taking on the legal responsibility yourself, it makes far more sense to attain the expertise of a personal injury solicitor who has experience with group compensation claims, to represent the aggrieved group.
Benefits Of Solicitors In Group Compensation Claims
The most obvious benefit of having a personal injury solicitor to file a group compensation claim is that they have the necessary legal knowledge and experience that a lay person lacks. This itself puts them in a better position to win any legal battle. An experienced legal professional knows which legal clauses apply to the case and how to leverage those legal clauses to construct a robust claim on behalf of the group.
In addition to having the necessary experience and expertise, solicitors also have access to legal libraries that they can use to research similar precedents as well as medical professionals who can provide expert testimony to support the group compensation claim.
Another significant benefit of a solicitor is that you can avail of the No Win No Fee clause. This is a risk-free clause that most law firms offer their injured clients. According to the terms of a No Win No Fee clause, nobody from the group will need to pay any legal fees until such time that the case is closed and that too, only if the court decides in your favour. Always make sure however that you understand fully what legal fees will be charged as they may vary.
Finding A Solicitor
When looking for professional legal representation, the most important thing is to look for a solicitor who has experience with filing group compensation claims. Filing a group compensation claim is different from filing an individual claim for compensation and you want to make sure that you have someone with the right type of experience.
Once you find a solicitor with the necessary experience, find out if they offer free initial advice. Most do but some don’t so it is worth asking before you make this first consultation appointment.
While booking that first appointment, find out if the solicitor will work on a No Win No Fee basis. The solicitor may not be able to give you a firm answer right away as they will first have to know more about the event that transpired but at least they can let you know if that is an option.
Documentation To Support Group Compensation Claims
The exact type of documentation you need will depend on the nature of the accident. If it was a travel-related accident, all members of the group will need to produce their travel documents. For a food poisoning case, all members will need to show evidence that they had dined in the same restaurant on that day. For a group claim related to faulty products, proof that the injuries were caused by the faulty product will be asked for. Your solicitor will advise exactly what documentation will be needed.
To be on the safe side, it is always advisable for all those injured to retain all documentation pertaining to the incident. This includes medical bills, doctor’s notes, X-rays, details of prescribed short and long term medical treatment, and all other related post-accident bills, including travelling expenses. This documentation serves as strong evidence in a group compensation claim.