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Published On: July 5, 2021 | Blog | 0 comments

Stages of a Personal Injury Claim

At the first sight the stages of a personal injury claim seem straightforward; find a solicitor, lodge your claim, try to agree a settlement, go to court if necessary. Nevertheless, there are set procedures in place for those looking to bring a claim and a set timetable to pursue it as far as possible.

In this article I will explore the different stages of bringing a claim, what they mean and how they impact on an eventual settlement.

Finding a solicitor

If you have been injured in an accident and you want to pursue a claim for compensation, you want to find the right solicitor to ensure that your case is presented in the correct manner. There are plenty of solicitors specialising in this area and sufficient information on the Internet to find one for your situation. The best way to find a specialist solicitor is through recommendations.  The Law Society’s website also lists solicitors’ firms practising in this area and identifies those with relevant accreditations.

Work out who was responsible for your accident

The first stage for your solicitor is to work out who is responsible for your injuries. This is not always clear from the beginning. For example, your solicitor will not necessarily claim against your employer if you are injured in an accident at work. In most of the cases, your solicitor will not claim against the person or company that is directly responsible for the accident (the “third party”), but their insurer. It sometimes takes time to identify who the insurers are.

Pre-action Protocol

Once you have appointed a solicitor, they will submit your claim, and this will be subject to the “pre-action protocol” which is a set procedure. Once the solicitor identifies the third party the solicitor will send them a “Letter of claim” which will set out in detail exactly what happened to you and the injuries suffered (physical and mental) as far they can be assessed at that moment in time.

The third party has 21 days to respond and acknowledge a “a letter of claim”. The third party, most probably an insurance company, will deal with the claim and if needs be will instruct solicitors to represent them.

After the initial response, within the 21-day period, the Defendant is allowed a 3 month period during which they can use to investigate the claim in more detail. At the end of this period, they will need to acknowledge whether they accept or deny legal responsibility.

Arranging medical care or rehabilitation

Helping you make the best possible recovery is your solicitor’s main priority, so if possible your solicitor will organise any medical care or rehabilitation that you need, funded by the third party. The reason for your solicitor doing this, is that you might not be able to get all the level of care from which you would benefit through the NHS. Your solicitor will arrange for you to receive private care to make sure you get the best possible treatment as soon as possible.

At this point in time your solicitor might be able to request from the third party an interim payment to replace lost income or fund any treatments you need.

Obtaining evidence

Your solicitor will gather evidence to prove your claim and to make the case as strong as possible. Your solicitor will take witness statements from you and from any of your potential witnesses.

Your solicitor will also request your medical records. While each case is different, medical evidence gathering could incorporate something as simple as requesting your GP records. Once your medical evidence is in place your solicitor will instruct an expert in a particular field to examine you and prepare a condition and prognosis report. Any reports obtained will be made available to the third party whether or not they have accepted liability.

Negotiating a potential settlement

This is the pre-court stage where a potential settlement can be negotiated whether liability has been accepted or denied. Both parties involved will want a fair and quick settlement as that will keep legal costs and court time to a minimum.

At this stage both parties will be taking legal advice from their legal representatives. Both sides can make multiple offers as the intention is to negotiate a figure that’s acceptable for everyone.

If a settlement cannot be reached at this stage, your solicitor will issue your claim at Court. This is often done to avoid delays and to put pressure on insurers. You can still get offers for an out-of-court settlement once you have decided to take your case to court. Only a very small minority of cases which are started actually go to a trial.

Compensation payment

After you have accepted an offer, the final stage is for you to get your compensation payment. Usually, you’ll get your compensation as a lump sum payment once your claim ends. Any interim payments which you have already received will be taken into account when calculating the final sum due to you. The compensation will be paid by the third party to your solicitor and they will transfer the money to you.

*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.*

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