Personal Injury Claims FAQs
Written by Mumtaz Hussain
A personal injury or clinical negligence solicitor at Anthony Gold LLP will wear many hats. As well as being an expert in their chosen field, a trusted legal adviser to their injured clients, and a meticulous and determined litigator, they will also be responsible for fielding questions from the clients. These questions can be directly related to the legal aspects of their case, but more often than not, they are questions which are peripheral to the issues in the main case, but nonetheless appreciably important to the client.
These are three of the most common questions:
- How long will my claim take to settle?
- Will I have to go to court?
- How much will this cost?
1. How Long Will My Claim Take To Settle?
This is likely to be at the top of any list of the most common questions that all personal injury and clinical negligence solicitors get asked. Unfortunately, it’s a difficult question to answer accurately because it will depend on two main factors which are outside our control and which cannot be easily predicted.
The first is the attitude taken by the organisation against whom the claim is brought (the defendant) or their insurers. If they dispute their liability, then this will need to be resolved before any compensation is paid. Even if liability is accepted, there may be a dispute about the appropriate amount of compensation. To resolve such disputes, it may be necessary to at least start court proceedings and the court process may be slow, particularly during the current pandemic. A case where the defendant, their insurers or even the individual claims handler disputes everything will take much longer than a similar claim where liability is admitted at an early stage and the defendants take a realistic approach to settlement. Although some claims are more likely to be disputed than others, even the most experienced solicitor cannot always predict the approach which their opponent is going to take.
The other factor is the need for there to be certainty about the long-term medical prognosis and needs before any settlement can be recommended. This is particularly so with cases involving catastrophic and often life changing injuries. With limited exceptions, any settlement is once and for all and it is not possible to return to court to seek further compensation if there is a deterioration or if the claimant’s condition did not improve as hoped or expected. Therefore, in most cases, it is better to wait until enough time has passed for medical and other experts to be able to predict the claimant’s future with reasonable accuracy before agreeing any final settlement of their claim. With some types of injury where the extent of recovery cannot be predicated early, particularly cases involving children, this may involve a wait of many years. Although experienced solicitors will have an idea of the time needed for prognosis for many types of injury, this does depend on medical advice which vary from case to case.
Nevertheless, our solicitors will always at the beginning of a claim use their expertise to give clients the best possible estimate of the time which their case is likely to take and keep them updated if this estimate changes. We will always ensure that cases are progressed and settled at the earliest opportunity once the insurers are willing to make realistic offers and the claim can be reliably quantified. If liability is admitted, we obtain interim payments to ensure that our clients’ needs are met, and they receive some compensation before their claim can be finally quantified and settled.
- Will I have to go to court?
Less than 1% of personal injury and clinical negligence claims go to a trial. However, many of our cases do involve commencing court proceedings. The vast majority of cases where court proceedings are started then settle out of court before reaching a trial.
From the very start of your case, your solicitor’s main focus will be to gather evidence to support your claim if it goes to trial. This will ensure that we are fully prepared if your claim is one of the very few to go to court and it is also the best way to persuade the defendants or their insurers to settle for a sum which is at least as much as a judge is likely to award, which is always our aim. If the defendant or their insurers are reluctant to settle for the appropriate amount, then starting court proceedings puts pressure on them, because litigation is expensive. This leads to the final question most commonly asked of a personal injury or clinical negligence solicitor…… how much will this cost me?
- How Much Will This Cost?
There is a natural concern that instructing a solicitor to represent you will be a costly exercise. However, the injury and medical claims team at Anthony Gold will always explore the “no win, no fee” option. This means that if you have honestly pursued a claim which is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay anything at all. If you are successful, there may be some fees to be deducted from your compensation, but these will be limited in amount and explained to you at the outset. In all cases, your solicitor will be upfront with you about costs and will keep you updated on the fees throughout.
*Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*