Injured and disabled people face many challenges in their day to day lives and getting around is one of them. I gained a new perspective on this particular difficulty having recently spent two weeks on crutches with sprained ligaments in my ankle.
I found that I was having to think about things which up until this point I had taken for granted, such as my journey to work, in a completely different way. For example, I knew that there was a lift at the train station but once I got into London I would have to use stairs to get to the underground. Then, if I managed that, the lift at the station at the other end of the journey would get me to street level but on the wrong side of a busy main road with no pedestrian crossing facilities nearby. Add to this the issue of travelling during rush hour when the stations and trains are particularly busy, my journey became more complicated than I had considered possible.
In my attempt to find an alternative route to work, I discovered that only around a quarter of London Underground stations and half of London Overground stations have step free access. Whilst the Mayor of London and TfL are working on increasing step free access across the transport network, it takes time leaving disabled and injured people with the constant struggle of how they are going to get to where they need to be whether it be for work, medical appointments, to get to the shops or simply have a day out.
10th March 2018 marked Disabled Access Day which celebrates and highlights locations which already provide access and experiences for people with disabilities however there is still a long way to go.
For those injured through no fault of their own facing similar issues, the costs of alternative transport (such as taxis) can potentially be included as part of a personal injury claim. In addition to this Claimants can claim for the cost of medication, loss of earnings and other additional costs which are a direct result of the injuries that they have sustained. All of these losses are considered in addition to compensation for injuries.
However, it is crucial to remember that a Claimant has to prove the losses that they are claiming for, so keeping evidence of all of these additional expenses is vital. Where a Claimant is unable to provide evidence (such as receipts) of the amounts being claimed, it is very unlikely that the other party will be willing to compensate for these losses.
Any financial losses being claimed also must be reasonable and supported by the medical evidence obtained in support of the claim. For example, if the medical expert gives the opinion that a Claimant is fit to return to work after a specific period then a Claimant will only be able to claim loss of earnings for that period.
Tracking a Client’s Losses
Finally, a Claimant also has a duty to keep their losses to a minimum. This is known as ‘mitigating’ their losses. This means that Claimants need to follow medical advice in terms of treatment to achieve the best possible recovery as quickly as possible and also, to keep with the example of transport, to investigate all of the options available in terms of alternative transport (such as getting a lift from a friend or whether there is a step-free option on public transport) before spending a lot of money on more expensive alternatives such as taxis. In addition, if a Claimant needed to get to work, it may also be useful to make enquiries with their employer to see if they are able to facilitate working from home or flexible working hours to avoid having to travel during rush hour.
Here are a few things to remember when considering claims for financial losses:
- Keep records – this includes records of treatment undertaken, recommendations made by doctors or treating clinicians, the dates of journeys to medical appointments and items purchased including their costs.
- Keep receipts and documents – you will need to prove the cost of all of the items being claimed therefore it is crucial to keep hold of receipts or invoices. If you have paid with a debit card, print your bank statements and mark the relevant transactions and if you have paid for transport using an Oyster card make sure you get a print out with the relevant journeys cleared marked. If your property has been damaged, get quotes for repairs and investigate all of the options before purchasing a replacement. For example, if your clothing has been stained, get a quote for having it cleaned before buying a new item.
- Take photographs – this is particularly important when claiming for damage to personal property. The Defendant’s insurers will need proof of the extent of the damage to the items before agreeing to pay for any replacements or repairs.
- Mitigate your losses – as I have already said, Claimants have a duty to keep their losses to a minimum. If a Claimant fails to do so then the other side will refuse to compensate them for those losses.