Most people who make a personal injury claim do so reluctantly. Very little is generally known about the process and there have been many negative news stories in the press in recent years.If you are thinking of making a claim, this article will help to explain the process in straightforward terms, hopefully allaying any fears you might have about proceeding with your case.MAKING A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM
How long do you have to make your claim? The law requires in the form of the Limitation act that a personal injury claim must either be resolved within 3 years from the date of injury, or that proceedings have commenced at Court within that time period.Most claims are concluded within 6-9 months and only a very small proportion will ever make it to court. It is said that in the UK less than 2% of claims reach trial.The responsible party
Your personal injury claim will be dealt with by the insurers of the responsible party. It is the insurer who we negotiate with not the individual or the company that may ultimately have been responsible for the injury.The Protocol
All claims in England & Wales are subject to a "Personal Injury Protocol" which lays down the rules by which both solicitors and insurers must abide by during the claim.
The protocol ensures that both sides play fair.Starting the claim
To start your case you must send a "letter of claim" to the responsible party's insurers. This letter sets out why the claim is being brought and what injuries / loss have been suffered. It gives the recipient / insurer a detailed overview of your claim.
Under the protocol, an insurer is allowed 3 months from the date of the "letter of claim" to admit or deny liability. If liability is to be denied then the insurer must supply witness evidence in support of their arguments. They cannot simply refuse to deal with your claim.Medical evidence
In order to prove that you suffered an injury as a result of the accident it will be necessary to attend a medical examination.
You will be examined by an independent doctor in your local area. The doctor will be one that the insurers have agreed to. Following your examination, the doctor will provide a report on your injuries. The report is vital because it describes the injury suffered and confirms when or if your recovery is likely.
Once the medical report is received it is then sent to the insurers and they decide on the level of compensation that you are likely to receive. Your solicitors will have an idea of the compensation you deserve, this very often may differ from the figures an insurer has in mind. In the majority of cases an amicable agreement can be reached.The compensation is generally divided into two parts:.? General Damages
In other words damages for pain & suffering including loss of amenity. This award compensates you for the suffering you have encountered usually in its physical form e.
g. whiplash, broken leg, strained muscles etc. However, it is also possible to be compensated for psychological distress, post traumatic stress disorder, or to a much lesser extent anxiety e.g. fear of driving or fear of being in a certain situation.
? Special Damages
You will also be entitled to receive compensation for specific losses attributable to the accident. These include but are not limited to - loss of earnings (also bonuses or overtime) car hire expenses, care and services, extra expenses ie; travel costs incurred going to doctors, hospitals, etc, damaged clothing, prescription charged and so on. You need to keep a note of all these parts of your claim, and preferably receipts.It is sometimes possible to arrange for an interim or early payment to cover certain losses eg. Insurance excess, car hire, loss of earnings (usually the insurers demand medical evidence before paying earnings).
All interim payments are deducted from final global damages.Settlement
It is normal for insurance companies to settle personal injury claims without the need to go to Court. As explained earlier very few claims ever reach court. The main reason for this is that the insurers realise that claims generally cost more money if they involve court proceedings.Following release of the medical report, most injury claims are capable of settlement and you can negotiate a full and final award for compensation.
If the insurer admits liability and agrees to deal with your claim, they will also meet your legal fees provided that your compensation award for personal injury exceeds £1000."No win No fee"
In order to formally instruct any UK solicitor on a no win no fee basis it is necessary for you to sign a "Conditional Fee Agreement". This sets out the obligations of both parties and the application of the agreement is laid down and enforced rigidly by the Law Society.
Martin Nolan is a legal marketer in the UK working with no win no fee compensation lawyers who offer free advice on a wide array of important legal issues.
By: Martin Nolan