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…