Anyone who has been involved in an accident, be it a road accident, slip, trip or fall or even a medical negligence incident, knows the uncertainty and stress that can be caused by such an event. This article series summarises the main principles and common situations that arise from personal injury law.
Personal injury law is the field of law that deals with every situation where harm is caused to another person. This is a field of law that regularly deals with injuries most often caused in road traffic accidents, medical negligence, accidents in the workplace or elsewhere, as well as product malfunction injuries.
This article discusses some of the general principles and provides general guidance in regard to personal injury proceedings. The relevant law in Cyprus is the Civil Wrongs Law, Cap.148, which codifies most of the principles found in case law.
Our experts can help you
Our law firm advises clients either as claimants or as defendants, in reference to personal injury claims on matters ranging from minor injuries like whiplash, to more serious injuries such as severe brain damage, the loss of an organ or even eyesight. Minor injuries cases are often settled out of court with the help of an experienced negotiator. However, complex injuries often require filing and pursuing a Court action.
Most important step
The most important step to be taken by any party is to get expert legal opinion on the issues of liability and damages as well as to provide all the details on the facts of the case. This step will significantly increase the chances of success in an out-of-court settlement.
In the event that the off-court negotiations are unsuccessful, an action will have to be filed. This will be a civil action, based on Cap. 148 and will be handled by the District Courts of Cyprus. Such an action will have to be filed within a reasonable amount of time from the time when the injury was sustained and the cause of action is considered complete, i.e. the earliest time at which an action can be brought.
This timeframe acts as a limitation period and it usually amounts to 3 years starting from the date the injury was sustained or in some cases the date the defendant acquired knowledge of the damage. However, the Court retains a discretionary power and may use this under certain circumstances to allow an extension of up to 2 years after the initial 3-year limitation period has expired.
Issues of liability vary and depend on the specific civil wrong that has been committed. These issues will be specifically considered in the following articles of the series.
The previously mentioned legal opinion will also include specific provision on an estimation of the amount of damages (i.e. the amount to be awarded as compensation for the claimant’s injuries) which the claimant will most likely be awarded. This information is important for both parties as it is often a main point of disagreement in the negotiation stage. Damages are always divided into two main parts, general or special damages.
The underlying principle in assessing the damage suffered is that damage should be a specific amount of money that would restore the claimant to the position that he would have been in had the injury not occurred. This means that the claimant is to be financially compensated in a manner that will allow him to live his life as it would have been had the injury not occurred.
General damages are mainly awarded for the pain, suffering and distress of the claimant. These damages are in general awarded for non-quantifiable loss or for loss which is expected. The Court has a wide discretion in awarding such damages and may consider previous caselaw but only as guidance. For the purposes of this exercise, the Court will take into consideration some or all of the following factors:
On the other hand, special damages are awarded only for quantifiable losses that have been finalised up to the date of the trial. This category of damages often includes compensation for:
It is important to note that special damages must always be explicitly claimed (i.e. specifically mentioned and adequately explained) in the pleadings, proved strictly with the admission of appropriate evidence and be considered necessary under the specific circumstances of the case. These rules are based on the premise that a claimant has to prove his damage.
In an attempt to compact the delay in the proceedings, legal interest for general and special damages is usually awarded from the date of the accident (the date the cause of action arose) and for future expenses (i.e. future loss of income and cost of care) from the date the judgement is issued, unless undue delay is caused by the claimant. In this case, legal interest for general and special damages may apply from a later stage, for example the service of the claim to the defendant.
Our law firm handles the entire negotiation and litigation process. Contact us for a no-obligation consultation of your personal injury case. Our expert lawyers are available to assist you.
The content of this article is valid as at the date of its first publication. It is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you seek professional advice on your specific matter before acting on any information provided. For further information or advice, please contact Mr. Agis Charalambous, Associate, Nicosia office, in the Litigation Department of our firm at telephone +357-22447777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org