Personal Injury

injury-img
sarah-magson
Sarah Magson
Head of Civil Litigation / Actions against Police
Joanne Lewis
Legal Clerk
claire-dunn
Claire Dunn
Solicitor
alistair-smith
Alistair Smith
Solicitor

Personal Injury Solicitors in Middlesbrough

Have you been injured and it wasn't your fault? If so Middlesbrough's highly trained personal injury solicitors may be able to help you recover compensation.

We offer a free initial 30 minute interview which is usually sufficient to enable us to assess the merits of your case and how best to succeed. We will provide full and impartial advice on the best way for you to fund your case including "no win no fee".

We deal with all types of claim including those arising from road traffic accidents, slips and trips, accidents at work and criminal assaults/abuse.

At Watson Woodhouse we are passionate about achieving a fair outcome for our clients. In doing so we aim to build strong relationships and will be with you every step of the way.

We have over 10 years of experience in dealing with claims of every size and variety. If you believe you may be entitled to compensation, or are unsure where you stand and would like advice from the leading personal injury solicitors in Middlesbrough, then please contact us.

1Someone crashed into me, can I make a claim for injury?

Yes. We can submit a claim to the driver's insurance company. Under the fast track process they have 15 working days to respond. If they accept responsibility then we will arrange for you to be examined by a medical expert so we can obtain an opinion and prognosis. We can then value your claim and assess a suitable level of compensation. A claim can be made for your pain, suffering and loss of amenity, together with any losses and expenses you incur due to the accident. The insurer will also pay your legal costs. If the insurer denies responsibility we will advise you upon the prospects of proceeding further with the claim.

If the insurer deny responsibility we will advise you upon the prospects of proceeding further with the claim.

2I was bitten by a dog. Can I make a claim for this?

Yes. A claim can be made under the Animals Act 1971. If the dog that caused the injury belongs to a dangerous breed or the dog had certain characteristics which were not normal in that species and the keeper of the dog was aware.

You must also show the damage the dog was likely to cause was severe. It may also be possible to make a claim against the dog's keeper on the basis they were negligent. You have three years to submit a claim against the keeper of the dog.

Alternatively if the keeper has set the dog upon you or you were attacked because the keeper failed to control the dog which was known to be vicious, a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) can be made. You have two years to submit a claim to the CICA from the date of the attack.

The law relating to injuries caused by dogs is complex but we are experienced in dealing with such claims. We can advise you about which type of claim you should make to ensure you receive the full amount of compensation you are entitled to receive.

3What time limits exists in Personal Injury cases?

The timescale for settlement depends on how much evidence is already present and how much needs to be obtained. It also depends on your injuries and complexities of the case. With more serious injuries, it is often better to wait to ensure that the long-term consequences of your injury are apparent. In cases where the other side disputes the value of your claim or denies liability, court proceedings may commence, and this will extend the duration of your claim.

A straightforward claim for a minor injury such as whiplash or a broken bone will usually take between 6-12 months to conclude if the Defendant accepts liability. Complex cases for serious personal injury such as a brain injury could take up to 2-3 years to conclude. This is because a number of medical experts may have to be consulted, and the process for working out how much compensation will be awarded is much less straightforward, as you may need adjustments to your home or long-term care.

If liability is denied this could also extend the length of time required to bring your case to a conclusion as Court proceedings may be necessary.

The Government have set up a portal system to try and speed up resolution of straightforward personal injury claims.

FAST- TRACK CASES

If your accident either occurred after 30th April 2010 and is valued between £1000.00 and £10,000.00 or after 31st July 2013 and is valued up to the increased limit of £25,000.00 your case will initially be considered in line with the Ministry of Justice online Portal for Fast-Track Liability Claims.

Stage 1 of the claim will involve submission of a Claims Notification Form (CNF) to the defendants insurer, if known; and/or a copy to the Defendant Only CNF to the defendant. The defendant should then provide me with an electronic acknowledgement and is then required to respond to confirm views on liability as follows:

Road Traffic Accident: within 15 working days ( 3 weeks )
Accidents at Work: within 30 working days ( 6 weeks )
Public Liability: within 40 working days ( 8 weeks )

If liability is admitted within this timeframe then medical evidence will be obtained so that your claim can be valued.

Stage 2 of the claim will then involve submission of a settlement pack and a 35 day period for consideration of the Settlement Pack by the defendant (“the total consideration period”). This comprises a period of up to 15 days for the defendant to consider the Stage 2 Settlement Pack (“the initial consideration period”) and make an offer. The remainder of the total consideration period (“the negotiation period”) is for any further negotiation between the parties. This can be extended by agreement.

If the defendant does not admit liability, alleges contributory negligence or fails to respond, then the claim will exit this fast track process and will fall to be considered under the general rules which allow an extended investigation of up to 3 months from acknowledgement of your claim.

MULTI-TRACK CASES

If your case is valued above £25,000 or if it involves complex matters which would fall outside of the fast-track Court process then your claim will commence by submission of a ‘letter before action’. The Defendant will have 21 days to acknowledge the letter and thereafter up to 3 months to investigate the claim and confirm views on liability. Thereafter, it is difficult to estimate how long your case may take to bring to conclusion as this would depend on whether the Defendant accepts liability and whether Court proceedings are necessary.

No matter how your case progresses, this firm would provide you with regular updates and set out steps which need to be taken to pursue your case as efficiently as possible with the least hassle to you personally.

4I was injured whilst at work. Can I make a claim?
Depending upon the circumstances of the injury, a claim can be made against your employer. The law imposes a duty upon all employers to ensure their staff are reasonably safe in carrying out their duties. If they breach this duty a claim can be made. We can submit a claim to your employer, who will have three months to investigate the allegations and confirm whether they accept responsibility. A claim can be made for your injury, together with any losses and expenses you incur due to the accident. Your employer will also pay your legal costs.
5The driver that hit me wasn’t insured. Can I still make a claim?
A claim can be made against an uninsured driver to the Motor Insurers Bureau ("MIB"), who are a non-profit organisation set up by the motor insurers of the UK to compensate victims of uninsured and untraced drivers. The MIB will appoint an insurance company to deal with your claim on the same basis it would have been dealt with had the driver been insured. The MIB require you to report the accident to the Police within 14 days of the accident for injury claims and within 5 days for vehicle/property damage. A claim can be made for your injury, together with any losses and expenses you incur due to the accident. The MIB will also consider a claim for the repair/replacement of your vehicle (only if it is not insured comprehensively), hire charges, loss of use and property damage. However, such claims would usually be subject to a £300 excess. The MIB will also pay your legal costs if the accident involved an uninsured driver, or make a contribution towards your costs in the case of an untraced driver.

Criminal Injuries

If you have been the victim of a violent crime, sexual assault or historic abuse then bringing the offender to justice through the criminal courts need not be the end of the story.

These crimes also amount to trespass to the person- a civil tort for which civil claims for compensation can arise.

Watson Woodhouse understand the often distressing nature of such cases and can provide sympathetic and compassionate advice on which is the best avenue to pursue.

CICA

If you have been the victim of a violent crime and suffered injury as a result, then it is possible to make a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority for compensation.

Whilst a successful conviction of the perpetrator is not a pre-requisite of achieving an award it is essential that you report the incident as soon as possible and, thereafter, that you cooperate fully with any police investigation and subsequent prosecution.

The payments of compensation from the scheme is operated through a tariff system depending upon the nature and level of injury suffered.

Deductions will be made taking account of any compensation awarded elsewhere and a penalty point system is utilised for any record of previous offending you yourself may have.

Our Personal Injury experts can help guide you through the application process and ensure your case is properly and accurately assessed by the Authority.

Individual

It is also possible to make a claim against the individual attacker or abuser themselves.

An advantage of this route is that you may feel a greater sense of satisfaction knowing that you are being compensated directly from the pocket of your abuser.

We have experience in applying to Court to preserve the assets of your attacker to ensure that you receive, from them, the compensation you deserve.

Employers or other Organisations

Where the individual attacker would not have the funds to pay your compensation it may be possible to bring claim against their employer, or another responsible organisation including the local authority. Essentially this is because they are responsible for the actions of people under their management and may be held liable for failing to protect you from the abuse.

Will I need to relive the details of my ordeal?
During our initial free and no obligation consultation only information necessary to assess and provide you with the best advice on how to pursue your claim will be taken. As the claim progresses you will need to provide fuller details. However by this point you will hopefully have built up a rapport with your solicitor. Our team understands how daunting a prospect commencing such a claim can be will be on hand to deal with all aspects of your case sympathetically and sensitively.
Will I need to face my attacker again?
The vast majority of such cases conclude without the need to go to trial. If your claim is against an organisation then it is unlikely the attacker would be present in any event.
How will my claim be valued?

Whilst no amount of money will right the wrongs done to you, your compensation would include damages for physical injury as well as the often tremendous and lasting psychiatric or psychological harm suffered.

Medical evidence will need to be sought. This can include accessing your personal GP records and also arranging for a medically qualified expert to assess you and prepare a report.

The CICA will consider the medical evidence to identify your injury and then will value your claim by reference to a fixed tariff. You can be compensated for up to three seperate injuries under the tariff. If sucessful in your application you will received 100% of the tariff for the first most serious injury, 30% of the tariff award for the second injury and 15% for the third most serious injury.

If treatment is recommended by the medical professional then you are entitled to cover the cost of this. It may also be possible to make a claim for loss of earnings.

How will my case be funded?
Claims against an individual, their employer or responsible organisation, are funded in a number of ways; the most common is under a no win no fee agreement (also known as a contingency fee agreement). This will depend on a risk assessment of your case. If we are unable to fund your case in this way then we can consider private funding. We will discuss all your options with you to ensure you fully understand the funding arrangements available.
Does it matter when the assault happened?

A claim to the CICA must be pursued within 2 years from the date of the incident. If your claim includes historic abuse, an action against an individual or your employer, then you may also be able to pursue a Civil claim. The court sets time limits on the bringing of civil claims. It is recognised in case law however that, especially in abuse cases, a victim may for a variety of reasons not feel able to report or disclose the abuse at the time. It may therefore be possible to bring your claim outside of these normal timeframes even if it occurred many years ago.

Occupiers Liability

Property owners and occupiers are, as a matter of law, obliged to ensure all visitors to their property are safe from the risk of harm.

Where the occupier fails to take reasonable measures to prevent defective or dangerous conditions of the premises, resulting in injury, then they have a legal duty to pay compensation.

If you suffer an injury whilst shopping; visiting a leisure centre; in a restaurant; or a car park etc then our experienced personal injury specialists may be able to assist you in making a claim.

Did you know?

  • In certain instances you may still be able to make a claim if you were a "trespasser" e.g. in an area after closing or a restricted area.
  • A sign warning you of a danger may not be deemed sufficient to ensure your safety.

Whatever the circumstances, if you have been injured due to a defect or danger then contact our team who will be able to carry out an assessment of your case and consider your prospects of success during a free 30 minute consultation.

Q. I slipped on a wet floor whilst in a shop. It had recently been cleaned but there was no warning sign. Can I make a claim?
A. Yes. A claim can be made against the person/organisation who occupies the shop on the basis they failed to ensure you were reasonably safe in visiting the premises under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957. The occupier is required to warn visitors of any dangers present when visiting the shop, including the presence of a wet floor.
Q. I was at my local swimming pool when I gashed my arm on a broken wall tile in the shower. What can I do about it?
A. Yes. A claim can be made against the organisation who occupies the swimming pool on the basis they failed to ensure you were reasonably safe in visiting the premises under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957. The occupier is required to operate a system of inspecting the premises, including the suitability of the tiles in the shower area, to ensure you are reasonably safe to use the premises.
Q. After eating out in a restaurant I became violently sick. The doctor is pretty sure it was food poisoning. Can I claim against the restaurant?
A. Yes. The restaurant will be the producer of the food within the meaning of the Consumer Protection Act 1987. There is an implied term, as part of your purchase of the food, that it will be of satisfactory quality under the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994. However, in order for your claim to succeed, it is necessary to obtain a medical report to show your illness was due to the food being contaminated.
Q. My back was injured when I fell off a broken stool in a local bar. I had to take a month off work. Can I claim anything from the pub?
A. Yes. A claim can be made against the person/organisation who occupies the bar on the basis they failed to ensure you were reasonably safe in visiting the premises under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957. The occupier is required to operate a system of inspecting the premises, including the bar stool, to ensure you are reasonably safe to use the premises.

Public Liability

Local authorities, or other companies have a duty of care towards people using public places that are under their control.

If you slip or trip on a poorly maintained road or pavement or you suffer injury when driving over a dangerous pothole then it is only right that you seek compensation from the responsible party for failing in their duty to you.

Establishing the existence of a defect is not always enough- the defendant must have known (or ought reasonably to have known) of the existence and failed to rectify it. For example demonstrating a reasonable system of inspection may be sufficient to defeat a claim.

At Watson Woodhouse Solicitors our skilled team of personal injury specialists has a vast experience of previous successful cases to draw from in rebutting common defences raised and their determined, lateral approach means they will cover all angles to succeed at establishing liability  in your claim and achieve the compensation you rightly deserve.

Q. There is a broken drain cover outside my house. I've told the council but am worried someone may fall down it. How quickly should this be fixed?
A. Under the Highways Act 1980 the council have a duty to respond to complaints made by members of the public. However, the act does not provide a time frame for the complaint to be acted upon. Given the description of the defect the council should inspect the broken cover within 48 hours of your complaint. Following their inspection the council will classify the time when repairs should be carried out, which will depend on the defects location and the likely risk it poses to pedestrians.
Q. My child was playing in an old building that is closed to the public (i.e. he was trespassing). A wall collapsed on him and broke his leg. Can he make a claim against anyone?
A. Under the Occupiers Liability Act 1984 an occupier has a duty to prevent trespassers from gaining access to their premises and to give consideration to any danger the state of the premises may pose. If the occupier has failed to take adequate action in this regard, a claim can be made against the occupier if a trespasser gains access and suffers an injury on the premises.
Q. Do I need some evidence of whatever it was that caused my accident?
A. Yes. As the Claimant you are required to prove the cause of your injury. This may be by way of photographs or video evidence. Alternatively a statement from you and/or a witness may be sufficient evidence.
Q. My grandma fell on an icy pavement that had been covered in grit. Can she make a claim?
A. Under the Highways Act 1980 the council have a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage of the highway is not prevented by snow or ice. This includes applying grit to the highway. As the council have taken some steps in this regard, it is likely they will be able to defend the claim.
Q. What if the path hadn't been covered in grit. Could she make a claim then?
A. Under the Highways Act 1980 the council have a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage of the highway is not prevented by snow or ice. However, they are not under an absolute duty and only have to show they have acted reasonably. Therefore, the location of your grandma's accident is very relevant. Generally the council should grit the highway around busy shopping centres, due to the high level of pedestrian use, but are not required to grit less used highways.

RTA

When another road user fails to exercise reasonable care and you are injured as a result then you may be entitled to compensation.

Whether you have been involved in a road traffic accident as a pedestrian, car driver, passenger, cyclist or motor cyclist Watson Woodhouse Solicitors can help you make a claim.

Even if you were partly to blame or the other driver was not insured then it may still be possible to pursue a claim.

We understand that you want the maximum level of compensation you deserve as quickly as possible. Watson Woodhouse Solicitors work swiftly and efficiently, not only in achieving your compensation but in all other aspects of your case; organising medical appointments and rehabilitation treatment where necessary to aid in your recovery.

Insurance companies regularly refer your case to a firm under their own panel- often a faceless caseworker at the other end of the Country . If you are dissatisfied with the level of service, or simply want to exercise your freedom of choice and have tailored advice personalised to your specific case, then Watson Woodhouse can help you transfer your instructions.

Personal Injury claims must be brought within 3 years from the injury suffered. Please contact us as soon as possible to arrange an appointment.

Q. Someone crashed into me, can I make a claim for injury?

Yes. We can submit a claim to the driver's insurance company. Under the fast track process they have 15 working days to respond. If they accept responsibility then we will arrange for you to be examined by a medical expert so we can obtain an opinion and prognosis. We can then value your claim and assess a suitable level of compensation. A claim can be made for your pain, suffering and loss of amenity, together with any losses and expenses you incur due to the accident. The insurer will also pay your legal costs. If the insurer denies responsibility we will advise you upon the prospects of proceeding further with the claim.

If the insurer deny responsibility we will advise you upon the prospects of proceeding further with the claim.

Q. What if the driver that hit me wasn’t insured?

A. A claim can be made against anuninsured driver to the Motor Insurers Bureau ("MIB"), who are a non-profit organisation set up by the motor insurers of the UK to compensate victims of uninsured and untraced drivers. The MIB will appoint an insurance company to deal with your claim on the same basis it would have been dealt had the driver had been insured. The MIB require you to report the accident to the Police within 14 days of the accident for injury claims and within 5 days for vehicle/property damage.

A claim can be made for your injury, together with any losses and expenses you incur due to the accident. The MIB will also consider a claim for the repair/replacement of your vehicle (only if it is not insured comprehensively), hire charges, loss of use and property damage. However, such claims would usually be subject to a £300 excess. The MIB will also pay your legal costs.

Q. I was a passenger in a vehicle. How will my claim work?
A. A claim will be made against the person who was responsible for the accident i.e. the driver of the vehicle you were travelling in or a third party. If the drivers blame each other for the accident your claim will be dealt with by the insurer to your driver, who will then deal with the issue of liability with the third party. A claim can be made for your injury, together with any losses and expenses you incur due to the accident. The driver's insurer will also pay your legal costs.
Q. I was in a taxi when someone hit us. How does my claim work?
A. We will obtain information about the third party from the taxi company. We can then submit a claim to their insurance company, who have 15 working days to accept responsibility. We will then arrange for you to be examined by a medical expert to confirm your injury. A claim can be made for your injury, together with any losses and expenses you incur due to the accident. The driver's insurer will also pay your legal costs.
Q. I was knocked down by a car. Can I claim compensation?
A. Depending upon the accident circumstances, a claim can be made against the driver of the vehicle who knocked you down. We can submit a claim to their insurance company, who have 15 working days to accept responsibility. We will then arrange for you to be examined by a medical expert to confirm your injury. A claim can be made for your injury, together with any losses and expenses you incur due to the accident. The driver's insurer will also pay your legal costs.
Q. The car that hit me drive off and I didn’t get the registration details. What can I do?

A. If the driver is untraced an application to the Motor Insurer Bureau("MIB") can be made. The MIB are a non-profit organisation set up by the motor insurers of the UK to compensate victims of untraced drivers if they are satisified the accident was not your own fault. The MIB will consider claims for personal injury, together with any losses and expenses you incur due to the accident.

Under theUntraced Drivers Scheme the MIB will pay a contribution of £500 plus VAT towards your legal costs. They will also pay reasonable expenses in dealing with your claim e.g. medical report fees. As it is likely your legal fees will exceed the MIB's contribution we enter into an agreement with our client which limits our claim for costs exceeding the contribution to no more than 25% of your damages. If the application to the MIB is unsuccessful we will not claim any costs from you for the work we have done on your behalf.

Q. Do I need a Solicitor to make my claim for me?
A. An appliation to the MIB can be made without a solicitor. However, we would recommend you obtain indepedent legal advice to ensure you are fully aware of your rights and entitlement. There are certain rules to comply with that differ from normal claims involving insurers and we are experienced in dealing with the MIB schemes. We will also ensure you receive the full amount of compensation you are entitled to receive

Trips

A local authority has a duty to maintain streets or roads. This duty includes the repair of defects in streets and roads and the removal of snow and ice. A local authority is required to carry out regular inspections of streets and roads and to repair defects which may cause a risk of injury.

How long will the claim take?
On average claims of this nature take approximately 12 months to resolve. However, much will depend upon whether the local authority accept responsibility for your accident and the nature of your injury.
Do I need to take photographs of the defect?
Yes it will be necessary to provide evidence of the defect that caused your injury and ideally measurements of the same so that we can advise you upon pursing a claim.
What will happen once a claim has been made?

Initially the local authority will investigate the liability. During this time period the local authority will generally request a meeting for you to attend at the scene of your accident, so that the exact location can be confirmed and measurements of the defect can be agreed.

If they deny liability they must send documents showing the inspection system operated for that area, together with details of any complaints or other accidents occurring in that area. After consideration of the documentation we can advise you whether or not they have a valid defence to your claim. If we recommend you continue with the claim then the next step will be to obtain medical evidence to confirm your injury and future prognosis. It is likely to take 2 months for this to be obtained. If the medical expert recommends you undergo treatment or is unable to give a final opinion at that time it is likely your settlement will be delayed until we have a final prognosis. However, we can assist you to obtain rehabilitation treatment along the way and apply for an interim payment if appropriate.