Posts Tagged ‘damages’
If you are unfortunate enough to have an accident, whether it is a road traffic accident or an accident at work or and other type of accident for that matter and you sustain an injury then you may be able to make a claim for damages for your injuries and losses.
We are all familiar with the idea of being able to claim for the “injury” which is compensation for the pain and suffering you have experienced as a result of the accident but the damages you may be able to recover do in fat go some way beyond simply beyond that.
When I see a client for the first time after an accident I spend a good part of that first meeting exploring the financial losses that have been sustained because of the accident and also what financial losses might accrue in the future.
Most of you will know instantly if you have suffered a loss of earnings because if your employer does not operate a Sick pay scheme then you are not paid for the time you are off work. That is straight forward enough. But also remember that if your employer works to a bonus scheme and you miss out on payment of a bonus because of your time off work then you are entitled to claim for that lost bonus as part of your claim. I occasionally come across cases where a client has missed out on a pay rise because of an absence following an accident and that is also a valid item of claim. The key thing to remember is that damages following an accident are intended to put you back in the position you would have been in had the accident not happened so it is worth looking deeper than just a simple loss of earnings claim.
In addition to loss of earnings you can also claim for any care and assistance you needed following an accident whilst you were incapacitated and recovering from the accident. And importantly that is not restricted to any actual payments you made for someone else to drive you to appointments, do your shopping etc – it extends to the day to day care your spouse or relatives and friends provided even though they did not charge for that care and assistance. This is a recognised valid item of claim recognised by the Court and one which I always raise at our first meeting.
You can also claim for loss of use of gym membership or golf club membership – those occasions where you have paid or are committed to paying fees and you cannot use the facilities because of your injuries. With proof of the amounts involved I can include those in your claim for you.
You can also claim for your sundry expenses such as prescription charges and petrol. They might seem minor items in some cases but if you are attending multiple appointments the expense quickly grows and it is worthwhile claiming this as part of your case.
In cases involving serious injuries you might have on going care needs and in such matters it is often necessary to obtain a specialist report from an expert who has detailed knowledge of the needs both now and also in the future. We have excellent contacts throughout the profession and if your case is one where such input is required, you can be sure that we will choose the right expert for you so as to advance the best possible case for you.
These are the main items of claim I tend to come across on a day to day basis but it is not an exhaustive list. When we first meet I will ask you if there are any other less obvious losses you have suffered and if there are then I will include those in your claim for you. The thing to ask is “Have I suffered a loss or incurred expense solely because of that accident?” and if the answer is “YES” then in all likelihood I will be able to claim it back for you.
If you have had an accident and suffered injuries and losses give me a call and I will be happy to discuss pursuing a claim with you.
Until next time
Many of you will have seen from the press and TV coverage that the law relating to Personal Injury claims will change from 1st April 2013.
The changes are huge and will have an enormous effect on you, the innocent victim of an accident. The time for protesting about the changes and campaigning about the injustice of the changes on people who have been injured through no fault of their own has long since gone. The changes ARE coming in and they will take effect in less than 3 weeks time.
I have noticed that there is a lot of confusion as to what the changes will mean to you so it may be useful for me to give a guide on the ones that will effect you most.
Firstly the legal fees that are recoverable in claims for injuries arising from road traffic accidents are about to be cut dramatically meaning that it will be impossible for solictors to carry out the work on your case WITHOUT a contribution from the damages (up to 25%) you are awarded to cover the cost of the work necessary on your case. My best advice is that if you have had a road traffic accident and have not yet made a claim then do so NOW before the 1st April because after that date the amount the will actually receive for your injuries and losses will be reduced as you have to make a contribution to the cost of pursuing the claim. And if you have a road traffic accident AFTER 1st April be cautious about who you instruct to deal with your case for you - do not shop around for the “cheapest deal” because in all likelihood what you will get is a cheap service. After 1st April it will be more important than ever that you instruct a good solicitor who will still do the right job for you and not cut corners because the fees recoverable are reduced.
There is some good news in that the damages you can claim will be increased by 10% which goes some way to meeting the cost of the contribution you will have to pay but wont of course cover all of it.
Similar rules are due to come in for accidents at work and acidents on the public highway (trips and slips) in July so again my message is that if you have already had an accident contact a solicitor before July to make sure that your claim is made before the changes in the law affect you.
But remember this… Even after 1st April accidents will still happen; You will still have the right to claim if you have been injured and suffered a loss and you will still have the right to instruct a solicitor to pursue your claim for you. The fact that that you may have to make a contribution to the cost should not discourage you from bringing your claim but it SHOULD encourage you to make sure you get the best legal advice and support you can. This is one of those occasions when the level of service you receive is far more important that the cost to you.
Here at Ibbotson Brady we plan to carry on as we have always done – offering the same personal service to you that we have built our reputation on and providing the high quality of service we believe you are entitled to receive.
Until next time
In a previous post I looked at the importance of you making the right choice of solicitor to handle your injury claim.
But what happens then? Well in every case there are 2 distinct parts – Liability (who is to blame) and Damages (how much compensation you deserve). Every case is different of course but there are common themes that run through just about all injury cases and I thought it would be helpful to talk about these. What I am really doing is telling you what I DO all day!
The first step I take is to send a “Letter of Claim” to the person/organisation responsible for your accident telling them why we consider they are to blame, give them some details about your injuries, tell them you are making a claim and ask for their insurance details. The insurance is very important. Just about every claim for damages is paid by an insurer whether it is a motor insurer, Employer’s Liability insurer or Public Liability insurer.
Once the insurer receives that letter they are required by law to acknowledge it within 21 days and then investigate the circumstances and confirm within 3 months if liability is accepted. If they DO accept liability then we do not need to worry about that further and we just have to concentrate on gathering evidence to value your claim. ( I will tell you what happens if they DON’T admit liability later)
In valuing your claim there are 2 further parts to think about – General Damages (compensation for your pain and suffering) and Special Damages (financial losses you have had so far plus any future ones).
In so far as the General Damages are concerned these are valued by obtaining a medical report on your injuries. You go along to see a Consultant ( instructed by me) and after you have been examined the Consultant prepares a report on your injuries and gives an expert view on how long your symptoms have lasted or how long in the future it will be before you make a recovery. If you have had multiple injuries I may need to obtain more than one report.
For the Special Damages I need to quantify your losses by obtaining details of your loss of earnings because of the accident, any costs for treatment you needed, any other expenses you incurred because of the accident (for medication or travel) and any care you needed after the accident (this includes situations where you were looked after by your family – this has a value in law!). In fact any financial loss you have incurred because of the accident will be taken into account and my job is to put it all together in a Schedule.
Once the Schedule is completed and you are happy with it I then submit this to the insurers with the medical report and invite settlement discussions with them. Many cases will settle at this stage but in some cases if the insurer simply won’t pay the amount I think you deserve then we may have to issue Court proceedings.
Just returning to the question of what happens if the insurer does not admit liability… Well the insurer has to give full reasons as to WHY they deny liability. I would review that with you and if I took the view that they probably had a valid defence then I would tell you so. But if I was of the view that they were simply wrong and I still thought you had a good chance of succeeding with your claim then I would take this up with the insurers and if they still declined to deal with your claim then I would recommend that you start legal procedings.
So you will see that in many cases liability is admitted early on and the value is agreed with the insureres. But in other cases liability is not admitted and/or the value is not agreed. When that happens Court proceedings have to be started and I will write about that in my next post. Bet you can’t wait…
Just about everyone who has ever thought about making a claim for damages for injuries and losses as a result of an accident will have heard the phrase “No Win No Fee”. In fact if you watch the advertisements on TV you will see this repeated several time an hour!
Whenever I meet a new client however, this form of “funding” a claim still carries a certain amount of mystery to it and the question I am often asked is “Is it REALLY No Win No Fee? Is there a catch to this?”
The simple answer to this is that the work we do really IS No Win No Fee and there is NO catch! It used to be the case that claims for compensation for injuries could be pursued by using Legal Aid (subject to financial quailification). That kind of support has long since disappeared for the vast majority of cases and in its’ wake came the No Win No Fee system. This recognises that in order to have access to justice injured people need a system whereby they can bring a claim and be safe in the knowledge that they are not going to face a large solicitors bill for work done on their behalf. This assurance on costs is at the very heart of the No Win No Fee system.
When a solicitor first discusses a new claim he/she assesses the prospects of that case succeeding. Some cases are easy to assess whilst others are not. You may have come across the term “Success Fee”. This is a percentage that a solicitor adds to the No Win No Fee agreement to reflect the degree of risk being taken in running a case. In short, a solicitor will get paid a little better on the successful cases to effectively “absorb” the loss on cases that are unsuccesful. It works – it allows injured people who could not afford to use a solicitor the chance to still make a claim without having to worry about how they will pay for it.
There are moves afoot at the moment to change this system and as and when those changes take effect I will let you know how they will affect you but for now the No Win No Fee system is alive and kicking!
You should be aware that No Win No Fee agreements are not universally applied in the same way. If you have had an accident and are thinking of bringing a claim for your injuries and losses then first make sure exactly what you are agreeing to. Some firms do not charge anything if you are unsuccesful but then charge you a fee (or take a percentage of your damages) if you win. Also check if you are expected to pay any fees for medical reports, notes etc. And ask how you will be protected against having to pay the OTHER SIDE’S costs if you lose. In summary you need to ask all the right questions to make sure that you really understand how your case is being funded. If in doubt ASK. A good firm will be happy to address and deal with any concerns you have and confirm to you in writing to give you the reassurance you need.
At Ibbotson Brady we have been dealing with cases on a No Win No Fee basis for 0ver 12 years. This is how the vast majority of our cases are funded. If you have any questions give me a call and I will happily go through it with you.