Can you claim injury compensation from a friend or family member?
Family and friends Injuries might occur during recreational activities, accidents at home or moving home, or while helping with DIY projects, leading to a range of injuries.
If you are injured as a result of another person's actions or negligence, you may be entitled to claim compensation. But what happens if the other person is a friend or family member?
Claiming compensation for an injury caused by a stranger's negligence is not typically a dilemma. Claiming compensation against someone you know, however, is far more sensitive - especially if that person is a friend or member of the family.
There are no official statistics about the percentage of injuries that are caused by family or friends. It is believed that, more often than not, an injured person knows the person responsible for their injuries.
A matter of loyalty
You may have been injured in a car that a member of the family was driving recklessly? Perhaps you were attacked by a friend's dog? Maybe your child was injured when someone close to you was negligent when babysitting?
Making a financial claim against a friend or relative might seem disloyal. The injury might have occurred when that person was helping you out. A sense that 'accidents happen' combined with the awkwardness of adopting an adversarial position with someone you know could deter you from seeking redress.
When handled in the appropriate manner, however, making a claim does not need to be adversarial or uncomfortable.
Do I have an injury claim?
It should be possible to make an injury claim if:
- you were diagnosed in the last 3 years and;
- someone else, such as your employer, was to blame.
Even if these two points don't apply to you, you may still be able to make a claim.
To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to injury claims expert on 0800 376 1001.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.
How much compensation can I claim for an injury caused by a family member or friend?
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
Get an accurate compensation estimate (including for multiple injuries), confirm your legal position, and check if you have a No Win, No Fee claim.
Updated December 2023
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General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred because of your accident. In addition to paying for loss of earnings, special damages can cover any care costs and medical procedures you need, such as diagnostic blood tests, medication and pain management treatments.
What is the point of compensation?
The purpose of compensation is to try to put you back in a position you would have been in if your accident had not happened. Financial compensation can, of course, only go so far in terms of compensating you for an injury.
It may be that your injuries have resulted in pain, suffering, and loss of amenity. Perhaps you will be unable to work for a period. You may require expensive medical treatments and ongoing care. It could be that the injury will have a lifelong impact on a child.
Your primary concern should be your healthy recovery. You should afford yourself every possibility of getting the best care and reducing any associated worries the accident may cause, such as financial concerns for you and your dependents.
Financial compensation is not a matter of opportunistically 'cashing in' on your misfortune. Compensation is calculated, often to the penny, to cover your needs after an injury.
Discuss the matter with your friend or relative first
You may face a painful and distressing short-term injury, leading to financial hardship if you need to take time off work. If your injury is more serious, you may be unable to work again and require a degree of full-time care.
In all probability, your friend or relative will feel a sense of guilt and want to do everything they can to help. Having an open and frank discussion may be cathartic for both of you - helping to clear the air.
If the person understands how the injury will affect you they will understand that compensation can help you move forwards.
Who would pay my compensation?
In most cases, a claim would be made against an insurance company, rather than the person who caused the accident.
The two most common types of insurance held by private individuals are car insurance, which covers road traffic accidents, and home insurance which may cover accidents on or away from the property.
Most car, home, landlord, and tenant policies, include cover for injuries sustained by someone who, for example, falls as a result of a broken step in the garden.
Road traffic accidents
The majority of accidents involving friends and family members are road traffic accidents.
It is common for parents or siblings to be driving a car carrying family members as passengers when a collision occurs.
The insurance company of the negligent driver will settle claims made by the other driver and their passengers. The insurer would also expect to settle your claim, as a blameless passenger.
Injury claims involving family members are not limited to road accidents. Other accidents include slips, trips or falls on the friend or family member's property, dog bites from a family member's dog, burns, scalds, and food poisoning.
Injury claims following such accidents can, in some cases, be more complex to pursue. For more information regarding your options, speak to a specialist injury solicitor at the earliest opportunity.
Discussing your options with a solicitor
Personal injury solicitors are well versed in discussing the sensibilities of claiming compensation against someone close. This is often the first question asked by a potential claimant.
As part of a free consultation, your solicitor will address any concerns you might have and offer advice on how to approach a difficult situation.
Your solicitor will offer specific advice, depending on the context of the injury and what the likely insurance situation will be.
An exploratory chat with a solicitor will be in the strictest confidence. You won't be under any pressure and you will be under no obligation to make a claim if you don't feel comfortable.
What if a child was injured?
If the injured person was under 18 when the accident occurred, it is possible to make a personal injury claim. Children will need a litigation friend (parent, guardian or sister or brother aged over 18) to provide manage the claim on the child's behalf.
If a parent is a defendant in the case, he or she cannot act as a litigation friend for their son or daughter. The court would regard this as a conflict of interest. The second parent, grandparent, or other family members could act as the litigation friend.
Why do most claims never go to court?
Solicitors settle the vast majority of claims out of court.
Less than 2% of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.
Cases that do ultimately go to court are decided by a judge or magistrate, not a jury.
Even if the claim does go to court, it is very unlikely you will have to attend.
How we can help you with your injury claim
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.
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Can I claim for someone else?
Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.
If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.
The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.
Can I claim if I feel I was partly responsible for my accident?
Yes. You may still be able to claim compensation even if your actions may have contributed to the accident.
However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.
How long do I have to make an injury claim?
In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the injury to make an injury claim.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your injury claim becomes 'statute barred'.
Can I claim for an injury after 3 years?
Possibly. The general rule for adults is that a claim must be started within three years.
However, the three-year countdown starts on the day you learned of your injury or illness. This will usually be the date of the accident, but could be the date your doctor gave you a diagnosis.
If you were injured as a child, you do have up until your 21st birthday to make a claim.
There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 376 1001 to find out if you are still able to claim injury compensation.
In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether an injury claim will be taken on by a solicitor.
Will I have to visit my solicitor's office in person?
If you are planning to start an injury claim, you do not need to go to a solicitor's office.
A friendly advisor will talk to you about what happened on a brief phone call. Your advisor can then confirm if you may have a claim, but there is no obligation to proceed.
If you decide to claim, a specialist solicitor will take you through the personal injury claims process over the phone. You will be able to speak to your solicitor at any stage and you wlll receive regular updates.
I need the money now - what are my options?
If you are unable to work and have bills to pay, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is an advance on your compensation payment. Any amount you receive in interim payments would be deducted from your final compensation payment.
Chris Salmon, Director
About the author
Chris Salmon is a co-founder and Director of Quittance Legal Services. Chris has played key roles in the shaping and scaling of a number of legal services brands and is a regular commentator in the legal press.