HOW DO SOLICITORS DEAL WITH ACCIDENT CLAIMS?


Adam Cresswell - Law For LifeHi, I’m Adam Cresswell. I am an Accident Compensation Claim Legal Specialist

If you have had an accident then please call me to have a Free No Obligation Chat. I work on a No Win No Fee Basis so it will not cost you a penny to make a claim. I will work hard and fight for you to make sure that your claim is successful and see that you get the maximum amount of compensation that you are entitled to.

Please call me to have a free, no obligation chat about any Accident Claims on 0800 3 10 11 12 or contact us.

PROCEDURE FOR ACCIDENT CLAIMS


FIND THE RIGHT SOLICITOR – The first step is to find the right solicitor to act for you when making an accident claim. Things you need to consider are:

 Are they a genuine firm of Accident Claim Specialist Solicitors? If they are a middleman accident claim company then avoid them like the plague.

 Do they offer complete ‘No Win No Fee Agreements’ and will you keep 100% of your compensation?

 Are they on your wavelength? Do they speak plain English and most importantly, will they fight for you?

 Try us! Call us on 0800 3 10 11 12 for a free no obligation chat.

GIVE DETAILS AND INSTRUCTIONS - You will need to provide details of what happened to make the accident claim. All that will happen is that you will be asked questions about all sorts of things including what happened, your injuries and financial losses and so on.

SIGN UP THE LEGAL PAPERWORK - Once you have found the right solicitor who is prepared to complete the accident claim for you then you will be sent some ‘No Win No Fee’ legal paperwork that need to be signed. This paperwork can be daunting but make sure that it is all explained to you before you sign up. Don’t be pressured into signing up straight away. Take your time and make sure you are making the right choice of firm.

LETTER BEFORE ACTION - The solicitor will then send a Letter Before Action (often called a Woolf Letter) to the other side to begin the accident claim. They will have 21 days to acknowledge receipt and provide details of their insurance company who will deal with your accident claim.

INVESTIGATION PERIOD - Once the other parties insurers have been notified of your accident claim they then have 3 months to legally investigate your accident claim and make a decision as to whether to accept or deny responsibility.

LIABILITY DECISION - If the other parties insurers accept liability for the accident claim then your solicitors will focus on sorting out the evidence in relation to the value of your accident claim. If liability is denied then your solicitors will make further enquires and collate further evidence in order to successfully prove liability. In order to succeed with an accident claim you must be able to prove that the accident was caused because somebody else was at fault, and that they were negligent.

OBTAIN MEDICAL EVIDENCE - The next stage is that the solicitors will obtain a medical report detailing the injuries that you suffered as a result of the accident. You must prove that the other sides negligence directly caused your injury and any financial losses for an accident claim to succeed. This link between the accident and your injury and losses is called causation. If you had not had the accident would you have suffered this loss?

OBTAIN DETAILS OF FINANCIAL LOSSES - It is also necessary to obtain full details and evidence in support of all financial losses that you have suffered as a result of the accident.

CALCULATE COMPENSATION ENTITLEMENT


Once the medical evidence and the financial losses have all been obtained then the solicitors will then assess the overall value of compensation for your accident claim.

The legal phrase for compensation is ‘Damages’. There are two types of damages; General Damages and Special Damages. The amount of Damages that you can recover is affected by the extent of your injuries and losses. Damages are usually agreed in negotiations between ourselves and the Defendant’s insurers but sometimes Court proceedings have to be issued to set the level of damages. Calculating what compensation you are entitled to for your accident claim is not a precise science and therefore it is difficult to precisely predict the amount a Court will award.

GENERAL DAMAGES - This covers compensation for your pain and suffering. We will discuss all these matters in detail with you but general damages can include the following areas: –

PHYSICAL INJURIES - Pain and suffering such as cuts, bruises, broken bones, strains causing stiffness or aching, neurological problems due to damage to nerves.

PSYCHOLOGICAL INJURIES - This is a clinically definable injury such as post traumatic stress disorder. You usually cannot recover damages for simple shaking up, fear or anxiety unless you have suffered in addition physical injury.

LOSS OF AMENITY – This is usually means that your injury has prevented you from pursuing your normal activities such as housework, sports, hobbies, leisure pursuits, domestic work, loss of holiday enjoyment, and of course, your sex life.

DISABILITY ON THE EMPLOYMENT MARKET – This means that because of your injury, you might find it difficult to obtain employment on the labour market in the future if you were to be compared with someone with similar qualifications and experience but without your injury.

SPECIAL DAMAGES – This covers financial losses such as travel costs, prescriptions, loss of earnings etc. up to the date of trial. It is important that you keep precise details of Special Damages including receipts and any other relevant paperwork.

PAST LOSS OF EARNINGS – These include any other losses resulting from the accident such as loss of overtime, bonuses, commission, pension contributions, holiday pay etc.

TRAVEL EXPENSES – These include travel costs to hospital, to see your doctor, for physiotherapy, seeing your Solicitors and any other travel costs that you had to make because of the accident.

DAMAGE TO CLOTHING – This includes whether it just needs dry cleaning or repair, or if it is ripped or damaged beyond repair.

PAINKILLERS AND PRESCRIPTIONS – These include costs of medicines and indeed any other medical treatment that you required.

CARE AND ATTENDANCE COSTS – These cover the costs of people looking after you and caring for you due to the accident/injuries.

ADDITIONAL HOME COSTS – This includes extra gas and electricity for heating and lighting your home whilst off work.

DIY AND MAINTENANCE COSTS – These cover the costs of housework, gardening and decorating.

FUTURE CARE COSTS – This includes if you need to be looked after on a more permanent basis in the future.

PURCHASE OF SPECIAL EQUIPMENT – This includes things such as special pillows or beds.

SPECIAL HOUSING COSTS OR NEEDS – These include things such as if you were seriously disabled, the cost of a stair lift or the cost of extending or re-arranging your house to make it easier for you to cope with your disability.

FUTURE LOSS OF EARNINGS – This is where you have still not returned to work or where you have had to take a job at a lower pay at the time that the case is settled or when the case comes to Court.

NEGOTIATIONS – The solicitors will then enter into extensive negotiations with the other sides insurers to obtain the very maximum levels of compensation for your accident claim. These negotiations can sometimes take some months but if you have a firm of solicitors who are prepared to fight for you then the additional compensation for the accident claim obtained can be worth the wait.

SETTLEMENT – If the negotiations have been successful and the solicitors are able (subject to your consent) to provisionally agree that you are happy with the result, then the accident claim can then be settled. The insurers will then issue a cheque for the full compensation to be payable to you. The insurers will then issue a separate cheque to pay the solicitors legal costs as well.

OTHER IMPORTANT MATTERS


INTEREST – It is normal to claim interest on the Damages for past losses but not on future losses such as future loss of earnings or future medical treatment with an accident claim. The Courts allow interest payable on special damages from the date of loss and interest on general damages from the date of service of proceedings of the accident claim.

MITIGATION OF LOSS – We will recover as many of the losses that you have reasonably incurred. You are not entitled to sit back and let your losses accumulate after commencing the accident claim. You must take reasonable steps to keep your losses to an absolute minimum in other words to mitigate your losses.

INTERIM PAYMENTS – In serious injury cases where the medical reports are not able to give a definite future idea of your injury (called a prognosis) it is possible for the Courts to order an interim payment throughout the process of the accident claim. However the Court can order that the interim payment be repaid with interest in certain situations.

SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS – It may be that as a result of your accident that you become entitled to certain Social Security and State Welfare Benefits either on a temporary or permanent basis. We advise that you arrange to pop in to your local Welfare Rights or the Citizens Advice Bureau to get your potential Social Security benefit entitlement assessed.

RECOUPMENT OF STATE BENEFITS – The Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) is an agency of the Department of Social Security and it monitors the amount of Social Security Benefits that you receive as a result of the accident.

If you receive compensation for pain and suffering then any Social Security Benefits paid to you will not be deducted. If, however, you receive compensation for any financial losses that you have suffered, then any Social Security Benefits that you have received will be deducted. This prevents you from being compensated twice, for example, for any loss of earnings claim that you might be making.

REDUNDANCY OR DISMISSAL FROM EMPLOYMENT – It may be that you have lost your employment as a result of the accident. If you are able to demonstrate that your loss of employment arises wholly and reasonably as a result of the injuries you sustained in the accident it may be possible to claim compensation from the third party within the accident claim. Any employment, redundancy or dismissal claim must be pursued within 3 months of dismissal or the right to pursue the same will be lost and if it appears that your dismissal was not caused by your injury but instead by your employers failure of duty to you then you would not be able to recover damages from the third party. It is therefore essential that you draw to our attention immediately any dismissal or redundancy situation that arises.

TIME LIMITS FOR AN ACCIDENT CLAIM – There are usually three years from the date of the accident to bring an accident claim for compensation. There are exceptions to this for example a child has until their 21st birthday in which to make an accident claim (three years from the date that they become an adult). Another exemption is that you can make an accident claim compensation three years from the date when you first realised you had suffered any injury, which can sometimes be different from the date you had the accident. This could be many years later and it can cause problems with evidence and records and witnesses many no longer exist and memories will be less reliable.

KEEP EVIDENCE


It is important that you keep as much evidence as possible relating to the accident claim particularly in relation to the injuries that you have sustained and your financial losses. This can be best done by keeping a diary in which you should record details ideally on a daily basis of the physical problems that you are having caused by your injuries and of course record all expenses incurred. There will come a time when we will ask you to provide us with a lot of detailed information about the nature of the injuries that you have sustained and the financial losses incurred and if you are keeping it all in one place in a diary then this makes things simple and easy. It is also important that you keep evidence of your financial losses in the form of receipts, letters, and any other relevant documentation.

COSTS


If we take on and deal with your accident claim we make sure that you will never have to pay any legal costs as we make sure that we recover these and get paid in full by your opponents and their insurers.

Technically however, in most cases if you win your accident claim there is no guarantee that all the legal costs incurred will be paid by the insurers. The insurers will only pay costs on a ‘Standard or Indemnity Basis’ and within certain Court scales and in Road Traffic accident claim fixed costs. ‘Standard basis’ costs means an entitlement to costs that the Court feels are reasonable. The ‘Indemnity’ costs are all those costs incurred whether they have been reasonably incurred or not.

The County Court scales provide that if you receive compensation of less than £1,000 then normally very few costs can actually be recovered. If you recover compensation in excess of £1,000 then there is usually not a serious problem in recovering costs.

WHO PAYS THE COMPENSATION


This can vary. Normally, if you make an accident claim against an individual or a company or against the Local Authority then they have insurance cover so it usually ends up as the insurers who pay. However sometimes your accident claim might be against an uninsured or untraced motor driver in which case the Motor Insurers Bureau might pay. It may be that you have suffered criminal injuries in which case an accident claim can be made against the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. We will advise you in detail over who can be sued and who is in a position to pay.

VALUING YOUR ACCIDENT CLAIM


The legal jargon for valuing your accident claim is called ‘quantum’. It is difficult to accurately value your accident claim until a certain amount of information is available such as exactly what your injuries have been, what kind of treatment you have had, whether you are likely to have any problems with your injuries in the future, the extent of your past and future financial losses. It can take some weeks and months to gather all this information together. General Damages are assessed by reference to the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines and from previous case law. Special Damages are assessed by the amount of detail and evidence that you have provided previously.

HOW LONG WILL THE ACCIDENT CLAIM TAKE?


It is very difficult to provide any kind of accurate estimates on how long an accident claim will take. Much depends on critical issues such as whether liability is in dispute, how serious your injuries are. Often it is best to delay settling an accident claim until you have made a good or full recovery from your injuries, which in some cases can take many months if not years. If an accident goes to a full Court hearing it can take up to one or two years.

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