Personal Injury Claims Process
There is a set procedure to be followed prior to going to Court to ensure your personal injury claims process or RTA accident claim results in the best outcome. Whilst it may appear simple, it is easy to get wrong if you do not know what you are doing. The procedure is designed to provide flexibility and overall it is important that the parties act constructively where possible to try and reduce the issues and avoid going to Court at all. Insurance companies are not in the business of doing you a favour, they are in the business of saving money. Do not expect them to guide you through what you have to do or give you accurate information on the legal position.
Where you fail to follow this procedure your case could be stopped or even struck out. You could also have to pay all the other side's costs of going to Court or fail to recover your own costs even if you win. Where you are claiming for an injury the procedure is set out in a pre-action protocol and where there is no injury a practice direction applies.
While the needs of any particular case vary, a case can generally be broken down into a number of simple steps as follows:
- Instruct a lawyer to act on your behalf, or at least contact one to discuss your case, (you may skip this bit, but if you do you are likely to run into problems later) and make sure you have legal expenses insurance to pursue the claim. The insurance can be bought after the accident or you may already have it. Without insurance you run the risk of not only losing but also being faced with a large bill from the other side to add insult to injury.
- Consider how you are going to prove your case and what evidence, if any, needs to be obtained before you tell the other side a claim is to be brought. You cannot rely on the other person to tell the police, if involved, or their insurer the truth or, even if they do, the insurer to admit liability anyway.
- Send a letter of claim to the other side, setting out the basic details required by them to enable them to investigate the claim, and wait for the relevant period to expire.
- If they dispute responsibility for the accident or fail to respond you can go to court, but should obtain your basic evidence before doing so. Where they make an offer to split liability you will be expected to respond to this and reach any appropriate settlement.
- When going to Court you will be expected to be able to set out what damages you are claiming.
- Where you are injured and bringing a claim for personal injury you are likely to need medical evidence to support your claim unless the injury was very minor.
- Where possible you should try to resolve the claim before going to Court. This means that you should take reasonable steps to settle the claim, but does not mean you have to take every possible step or sell yourself short.
- Go to Court. If you win the other side normally have to pay your costs in addition to any damages. As most solicitors will work on a "no win, no fee" basis it has to make sense to obtain legal advice well before this stage. If you lose you are likely to have to pay the other side's costs.
- Prepare for trial. Get it wrong and the case may be struck out before you even get to trial.
- Trial - win or lose.
- If you win the other side will normally have to pay you within 14 days. If they do not you need to know how to make them pay, otherwise it was all for nothing. If you lose without legal expenses insurance you will find yourself having to pay a hefty legal bill you could have avoided.
You can appoint us at no costs risk to you and we can arrange insurance against the other side's costs if you do not already have it, so why do it yourself? Call us on 01296 662770 to discuss your situation.
- Further Information
- Do's and Don'ts
If you need our help, either e-mail us anytime, or call 01404 861868.