A. What you should do immediately after accident
When an accident occurs to you or to a person of your concern, you and the injured person immediately after the accident should keep all the available evidence such as video clips, photographs, identity(ies)/contact(s) of defendant(s), vehicle registration numbers/their insurers, reports, investigation report(s) and identity(ies)/contact(s) of witness(es) of the scene, as well as all the sick leave certificates, medical appointment slips, medical reports of the injured. Such evidence may soon disappear, or could be difficult to locate/track as time goes by.
B. Time limit to commence civil claim
The time limit under the Limitation Ordinance, Chapter 347 of the Laws of Hong Kong is 3 years after the accident or after the cause of action accrues, after which it may be difficult, if not impossible, to apply for extension from the appropriate court of juridiction.
The limitation period for marine accident is shorter : within 2 years after the marine accident.
An exception is where the accident happens to a minor child under the age of 18 years, where the limitation period is 3 years (2 years for marine accident) after 18 years.
C. Which court to issue Writ
Please consult us as to the likely quantum of damages which the injured person may obtain from the Court. Where the total damages are likely to exceed HK$ 3 million, then the legal proceedings should be commenced in The Court of First Instance, The High Court of Hong Kong. If the likely quantum of damages is below HK$3 million, then the court venue should be the District Court. In borderline cases, we suggest to commence the claim in The Court of First Instance.
D. What are the likely heads of damages
(1) General damages
Pain and suffering and loss of amenities. The amount of award under is head is usually assessed by reference to previous cases of similar injuries/suffering.
Loss of pre-trial earnings, i.e. loss of salaries and income from date of accident to date of court trial.
Loss of post-trial earnings. This involves assessment of a notional multiplier year figure (ranging from 3-4 at the lower end to 14-16 on the upper end) x the likely reduction/loss of salaries/income at the time of trial as occasioned by the accident.
Loss of earning capacity. This is to compensate for the less advantageous earning ability of the injured as compared to the pre-accident ability.
(2) Special damages
Medical/hospital expenses and medical care
Loss of properties due to accident
Future medical care and treatments
Traveling expenses to receive medical treatments
(3) Interests from date of accident to date of trial.
(4) Legal costs and disbursements
Fees for obtaining hospital reports, x-rays/MRI, medical notes/records etc.
Medical assessment reports by medical experts.
The above list is not exhaustive. Please make an appointment to consult us for legal advice, preferably soon after the accident, where we could give you a preliminary assessment on evidence, merits/chance of success and the likely quantum of damages.