Injured in a Sport? You Could still Claim

Watching the Grand National over the weekend and thinking to myself what a dangerous sport it can be not only for the horses involved but the jockeys also it made me think to myself, do people realise that if they’re injured while participating in any form of sport that they could claim compensation? So I took a look into it and this is what I found.

You might think that sports injury claims would primarily be associated with professional sports players. Quite the opposite is true in fact. The majority of sports injury claims are filed by amateur sports participants. I read recently somewhere that about 70% of the Uk population (might be British population, can’t quite remember) will tell you that they have at some time in their life participated in an organized sports game like rugby, hockey, football, cricket, horse riding, or boxing. Any of those activities can lead to injuries, even when you are following the game rules.

Various causes of Sports Injury Claims

There are a lot of things that can happen to cause you to be injured while participating in a sporting activity but some common issues that result in people having to file sports injury claims are these:

  • Tackling

In many sports activities one player will tackle another player in an attempt to get the ball away from them. If these tackles are not executed properly or dangerously with intent to harm then they can result in physical injury and could lead to a compensation claim.

  • Improper coaching advice

A coach must know the fundamentals of the game. If the person coaching the players is not properly trained they could advise players to perform dangerous activities during game play, like inappropriate tackles, that could result in one or more players being injured which may lead to compensation claims.

  • Riots

There have been incidences of spectator riots after a competition. Some of the rioters have been known to cause injuries to other spectators, even to some spectators who were not involved in the rioting activity.

If it can be proven that a rioter or hooligan caused you an injury you could make a claim against them. In these sorts of cases a personal injury lawyer can assist with a claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

  • Gaming equipment

Balls can often leave the field of play and strike a spectator. This can result in injuries to the spectator, or damage to personal property. Sometimes gaming equipment malfunctions due to a defect from the manufacturer and when this occurs injuries may be sustained.

  • Stadiums or grounds that are not properly maintained

Many spectators are injured at sporting events because the stadium or grounds they were visiting have not been properly maintained. Stadium seating can be in disrepair and cause an unsuspecting person to fall, or you could trip on loose floor tiles, or be injured in many other ways.

If there has been a lack in duty of care towards visitors to stadiums or grounds and a spectator or participant has been injured because of it this is when compensation might be claimed.

What to do if you suspect you have a Sports Injury Claim

The first thing you should know about sports injury claims is that you need to hear the advice of a lawyer/solicitor.

Each year there are people who have suffered a sports injury who will not be compensated properly for their medical costs, their loss of wages, or their pain, and suffering, because they decided to forego consulting a solicitor, and they handled their sports injury claims themselves. Take it from somebody who knows, solicitors may not be cheap but they can be worth their weight in gold. Simply contacting one for some legal advice (which in most cases will cost you nothing) should be a top priority.

Finding a solicitor

If you don’t already have a solicitor or have no recommendations from people you may know, finding a solicitor is really exceptionally easy. A quick search on the internet will provide you with numerous results, and if you use Google you should also see local personal injury solicitors and lawyers presented to you. I’m in Manchester and if I search on Google for personal injury solicitors there are about 60 local results I can choose from. One example listing is Personal Injury Solicitors Manchester (website here).

Sometimes however having a lot of options can make things a bit more complicated when trying to find a good solicitor r lawyer that suits you. There may be firms that you have already heard of that are more national than local, and there will be solicitors that just serve the local area, or region. Choosing who is right for you can be time consuming and possible daunting if you aren’t aware of what to look for but Citizens Advice provide some good information I suggest you take a look at here that will help you.

If a visit to a solicitor seems a bit daunting or your injury prevents you from traveling then it may offer you some comfort in knowing that you probably won’t even need to visit the solicitors office as most things today can just be sorted through phone consultations and email. Or the solicitor or an associate may even pay you a home visit if necessary.

When you are contacting a solicitor for any sort of injury claim it will save time if you have the following information handy.

  • The date when the injury occurred;
  • Where the injury occurred;
  • Who was present when the injury occurred;
  • What you were doing prior to the event;
  • What you did immediately following the event;
  • Names and contact information of any potential witness;
  • Names of the person responsible for the injury.

G Macs final thought

If you think you’ve found the right personal injury solicitor to represent you when filing a sports injury claim a few questions you might want to clarify with them are:

  • Are they a regulated law firm or CMC (claims management company)?
  • Are they providing their service on a no win no fee arrangement?
  • What are their fees?
  • Are there any hidden or extra costs involved?
  • How much compensation will you get?
  • Do they provide interim payments?

By no means are you limited to the number of questions you can ask them and you will probably have many. Any reputable firm or CMC should be more than obliging.

Accident at Work? Should You Claim?

When I’m playing golf for some reason I often hear from other golfers who have had an accident at work and they want to know if it is right to make a claim and if there can be any consequences for doing so. They are concerned with adverse affects that it may cause in their day to day working environment and also worry about career progression being held up or stopped altogether because they made a claim against their employer. I’ll go through a few of the questions I receive below and my usual answers.

Is it right to make a personal injury claim for an accident at work?

Usually I’d say yes. If the injury occurred because of somebody else’s mistake, error or negligence and it has caused you to be in pain, take time off work, incur costs or lose your job then it’s definitely worth making a claim as you have lost out and it wasn’t your fault. If however your injury was caused by flouting your employers working recommendations, you were messing around or you thought you would do something your own way then the answer is probably not.

Will my employer discipline me for making a claim?

No. It is against the law to sack an employee or discipline them for making a claim. Your employer has a duty of care to you and your colleagues and anyone else on the premises. If there’s a genuine claim then they can’t sack you because of it.

Who will know about my accident?

Your employer should already know about the accident as it’ll have been recorded in their accident log book. I always used to check this had happened and I’d advise you check as soon as possible that it has been recorded. Your employer should then report any serious injuries to the Health And Safety Executive under Injury, Disease and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations (RIDDOR).

Furthermore the compensation recovery unit at the Department for Work and Pensions must also be told of any personal injury at work claim.

Will my colleagues resent me for claiming?

This shouldn’t happen. The claim will usually be made by a solicitor. Your employer will refer it to their solicitor and then it will be dealt with between them. Your colleagues will probably never know and if your boss did tell someone else then there’s probably a case for breach of privacy but I won’t go into that on this post today!

So how does the claim process work?

This is the bit you employ your claim management company or lawyer for so what do they do?

Well to start with they gather all of the facts from you. What happened? Where did it happen? Who witnessed it happening? When did it happen? What injuries did you sustain? What time off work was there? Did you visit the doctors or hospital (if so they gather medical reports and x-rays)? Are there any long term affects on your health?

Once all of those things are assessed your lawyer or claim manager will work out a figure for your claim and then make a claim either to your employer or via their lawyer. The employer will then either admit liability or not for your accident at work. If they admit that they are liable then it is quite straightforward case, usually between the lawyers, of claim and counter-claim until an an amount that is agreeable by both parties is reached.

If your employer doesn’t agree that they are liable then your lawyer will present the evidence you have provided to prove your case. This is why it essential to gather as much evidence as possible when discussing your case from the outset. I used to ensure I was fully armed with evidence to counter the usual standard responses from company lawyers. If you’re unprepared for their questions then it’s a very easy case for them to deny the blame.

To sum up: if your employer is negligent or an accident has happened because of poor practise or processes not being followed and you get injured then you are likely to have good reason to make a personal injury claim against your employer, you can not be sacked for claiming against your employer as you’d probably have a good case for unfair dismissal or constructive dismissal and in most cases the case and your claim will be dealt with behind the scenes by lawyers minimizing the impact on you and your colleagues. Companies are required to have insurance to cover costs for your injuries and it should create no bad feeling for you when you return to work.

G Macs final thought

Employers aren’t bad people, it’s not them versus you and usually they agree that is right for you to be compensated if they’ve made a mistake. Most use it as a learning exercise to put things right so that the same thing doesn’t happen again.

How Much Compensation Will I Get?

Whenever I used to take on personal injury claims I would often be asked right at the beginning of the conversation “How much compensation will I get?” and I’d always explain that it’s not a random award, you’re not winning the lottery or a scratch card but you will be paid out for what it has actually cost you.

The money you get has to be justified and proven – the numbers aren’t just plucked out of the air to see what you’ll accept. The job of your legal team is to gather evidence that proves how much out of pocket you are now, how much of an impact it will have on your future life and earnings and what impact it had on you at the time of the accident.

I’ve dealt with many different types of compensation claims including: Neck and back whiplash, fractured bones, damaged teeth, facial scarring, hearing problems, brain damage, broken backs and vertebrae, loss of sight, hair damage (chemicals), Asbestos related injuries, pelvis injuries, amputations and also knee problems. This is just a small sample by the way, if I listed every injury type I think I’d need a bigger blog! As you can see the range of possible claims is massive and when you factor in severity and impact on any given individual you can start to see that answering the question of “how much will I get?” is impossible from the outset to answer.

Questions & Answers

When you instruct a personal injury lawyer or team their job is to ask you questions about what happened, this may seem like a questionnaire but it is in fact the start of the evidence for your claim.

Then they will talk with you about costs for things like medication, travel, loss of earnings and trips to the hospital etc. Then your doctors reports will be examined to work out the extent of your injury.

The amount of money per injury will fit into a range for each injury type and then the lawyer will work out, again with medical information provided or by sending you for a further assessment, how severe your injury is and where it fits into the scale of compensation amounts.

If your injury is already fully healed then the claim can be put forward to the insurers legal team for their assessment of your evidence. If you have ongoing symptoms then a doctor or medical professional will assess you so that your team can work out a length of time your symptoms will continue for.

Then using medical evidence they can work out how long you’re likely to continue needing treatment and also what effect the injury will have on you personally and professionally as well. For instance if you are a bus driver and you have a claim for torn ligaments the doctor may say you’ll be unable to drive for 6 months then your lawyer will claim for 6 months loss of work on top of the other claim amounts.

If you had a leg amputation however then the cost to you may be hugely different and so the compensation amount claimed for will be significantly higher. With life changing injuries like amputations there is also the psychological impact on your life to consider. I always used to use a different doctor for this side of the claim as it’s quite a tricky thing to assess correctly.

All of this evidence gathering may seem tedious at the time but a good personal injury claim will gather all of this information in advance of submitting a claim as once you’ve claimed and been paid out it’s often too late to go back and say ‘Actually, I forgot to tell you about this symptom….’

The number of factors to take into account when I was asked the question “How much will I get” meant that I’d usually say “Sorry, I can’t say just yet” because I didn’t want to leave myself open to complaints down the road when the amount claimed was less (no-one complains when it’s more though!) than I’d indicated.

I may make a ball park estimate but would be clear that it was not guaranteed. There are websites that offer a personal injury calculator depending on the injury type that give you an estimate too but those calculators can only take into account the injury itself without knowing anything about you personally and the impact it has on your life.

G Macs final thought

I used to, and most personal injury lawyers still do, offer a free consultation to start with so I’d recommend you speak with them first and then ask the question again when they know a bit more about your unique case, the impact on you and how it will affect you going forwards to get a more realistic answer to the question.