How do you make a group (multi-party) injury claim?
What is a group (multi-party) injury claim?
A group or multi-party claim is a compensation claim that is brought by a group of people who have sustained the same or similar injuries due to the negligence of the same defendant.
Multi-party claims are also sometimes referred to as a 'group claim' or a 'class action'.
How do multi-party injury claims arise?
Multi-party claims usually arise from:
- an accident such as a bus or coach crash where a number of people are injured at the same time,
- holiday-related food poisoning claims where several holidaymakers become ill after consuming the same food or drink, or
- a defective product, including defective medication, that has harmed a number of people over a period of time
How do multi-party claims differ from claims made by a single claimant?
As multi-party claims involve the witness statements and evidence of several claimants, these claims can be more complex.
In a group claim, the Court usually coordinates the legal action and appoints lead solicitors to represent the group of claimants. The Court may set a deadline for all claims to be submitted so that the claims can be dealt with at the same time.
A claimant who misses this deadline may still be able to bring a compensation claim, although the delay can make the process more difficult. It is therefore important to seek legal advice as soon as a claimant discovers he has sustained injury through the negligence of another party.
As with the majority of personal injury claims, it is necessary to demonstrate that the injury was caused by the negligence of the defendant, therefore it is important to gather as much evidence as possible to support the claim.
Are group claims more likely to succeed than individual claims?
A significant benefit of making a multi-party claim, when liability is disputed, is that "weight of numbers" often counts in favour of the claimants. For example, in a case where several hotel guests get food poisoning but the hotel denies they are to blame, the fact that multiple guests all became sick at the same time is strong evidence that they became sick as a result of food or drink at the hotel.
In the above example, it would be harder for a single hotel guest to argue that the hotel is responsible for their food poisoning. The hotel may argue that the guest could have picked up the bug eating at a restaurant, at the beach, at a bar etc.
Bringing a multi-party claim for clinical negligence
Claims for clinical or medical negligence are often brought by individuals rather than groups, and result from unique circumstances. However, cases do arise where a negligent NHS trust, negligent private hospital or individual GP has harmed several patients in similar circumstances. Examples of negligent treatment may include:
These claims may result from a lack of training, use of an improper procedure or medication, or a hospital's failure to intervene in good time once it becomes evident that a certain set of circumstances is putting patients at risk.
Claimants must able to show that their treatment differed from the way a reasonable healthcare professional would have treated his patients, and that the adverse outcome was a result of that negligent treatment.
A Court may group together several claimants into a multi-party claim if the successful outcome of one claim would imply that the other claims would also be successful.
Military injury multi-party compensation claims
Where many military personnel have all sustained injury in similar circumstances - for example Gulf War Syndrome or as the result of a defective piece of equipment or vehicle, a multi-party Armed Forces injury claim may be brought against the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The War Pension and Armed Forces Compensation Claim systems provide for military personnel injured in the course of their work.
For accidents that occurred after 6 April 2005 the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme allows no fault personal injury claims to be made within 7 years of the date of the accident (even during service).
For accidents before 6 April 2005 it may also be possible to make a claim for a War Pension payment, although this only comes into effect upon discharge from the Armed Forces.
Other examples of multi-party claims include:
- Bus, coach or train accidents
- Batches of faulty equipment
- Holidays ruined by illness on cruise ships
Benefits of multi-party claims
A number of people affected by an incident working together to bring a claim for the compensation to which they are entitled may find it more financially viable than making individual claims. They may also find strength and support from the group action.
How long does a multi-party injury claim take to be settled?
Some cases, such as straightforward cases of food poisoning, may be concluded within a matter of months, and most are settled out of court.
However, and partly because the outcome of group claims can have significant financial consequences for the defendant or their insurers, Court proceedings relating to multi-party claims can take longer to resolve. Expert witnesses may be required, and claimants' evidence may be disputed.
Starting or joining a group injury claim
If you have been injured or become ill as the result of another party's negligence, and other individuals may also have been affected by the same circumstances, contact Quittance on 0800 612 7456 to speak to a specialist.
Alternatively, you can request a callback to discuss your options with a solicitor.