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What is a Personal Injury?

A Personal Injury can be: a physical injury, disease or illness, or a psychological injury or illness. A personal injury could result in death.

Examples of personal injuries are:-

  • An injury at work. This includes work-related illnesses such as a disease caused by working with asbestos.

  • A psychological illness caused by stress at work.

  • An injury caused in a traffic accident.

  • An injury received as a result of faulty goods or services.

  • An injury caused if you trip over paving stones.

  • A psychological illness suffered as a result of abuse as a child.

  • An injury caused by errors in hospital treatment or by vaccinations.

  • A physical or psychological injury sustained by a victim in the course of a crime.

  • A psychological illness caused by discrimination or harassment in your work-place.

If you have suffered a personal injury, or if you are acting on behalf of someone who has died because of a personal injury, you may want to consider the following:-

  • Do you want to make a complaint to the person or organisation you believe was responsible for the injuries.

  • Do you want to make a claim for compensation to cover losses you have suffered as a result of the injury.

  • Are there any immediate financial problems arising because of the injury, for example, you are unable to work.

  • Do you want to contact an organisation that could offer support or counselling.

Action to be taken

Whatever you are intending to do about your personal injury, actions you could take include:-

  • Inform the police if, for example, the injury resulted from a road accident.

  • If the injury resulted from a road accident, report it to your insurance company. The insurance policy may be invalid if an accident is not reported.

  • Report the injury to your doctor because it could become more serious. You should do this even if the injury seems minor. If you subsequently go to court to get compensation for the injury, the doctor will be asked to provide a medical report.

  • Gather evidence about the accident and injuries. For example, it may be useful to take photographs of the scene of an accident and of what caused the injury. You should also, if possible, write an account of the incident while details are still fresh in your mind. If there are witnesses, you should make a note of their names and addresses.

Accidents at work

If the accident happened at work, it should be recorded in an accident book. If your workplace does not have an accident book, you should write out brief details of the accident and injuries, send them to your employer and keep a copy. Your contract may say that you have to report an injury at work to your employer. If you are self-employed, you have a legal responsibility to report some accidents resulting in injury to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or to the local authority environmental health department. In England and Wales, there is more information about reporting accidents to the HSE on its website at

Making a complaint

If you have had an accident or suffered an injury you might be able to get an explanation of what went wrong and to receive an apology. In some cases, there may be an official complaints procedure you can use.

One disadvantage of using complaints procedures is that they are often time consuming and the final result will be no more than an apology. If you have suffered a personal injury and you also want compensation, you should be aware that there are time limits for taking legal action and going through a complaints procedure may delay matters.

If you decide that making a complaint will provide a sufficient remedy, here are some examples of the organisations you can complain to:

  • A government department

  • A local authority

  • Your employer

  • The police

  • Your school or other educational institution

  • Your hospital or other National Health Service institution

In Wales, NHS Redress Arrangements may allow you to combine making a complaint with claiming compensation.

If you want more information about how to complain to these types of organisations, you should seek specialist advice from an experienced adviser, for example, a Citizens Advice Bureau.

This article was published by The Citizens Advice website:

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