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Claims Process

Generally speaking there are four or five steps in a personal injury claim, depending on whether you are able to settle your claim before Court action is required. The five steps and what is entailed in each one is shown below and an easy to understand visual representation can be seen in our Personal Injury Claims Flowchart.

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5 Steps To Making A Claim

First Step - Gathering Evidence About Your Accident

We would always suggest speaking to a solicitor as soon after your accident as possible, who can advise you on what steps you should take. We provide initial advice for free and if you decide to use our services, to help you with your road traffic personal injury claim, we would normally offer to work under a conditional fee agreement which may be supported by Legal Expenses Insurance (LEI). Firstly we will find out as much detail about your accident as possible.

These are the types of question we will ask you:

  • When and how did the accident happen and what injuries did you suffer?
  • Did the Police attend the scene, or have you reported it to them?
  • Were there any witnesses to the accident and do you have their contact details?
  • Do you have any photos or drawings of what happened?
  • Did the other party stop and if so has their insurer been informed?
  • Has your insurer started the claims process?
  • Have you seen a doctor about your injuries?
  • Have any external agencies been involved (Claims agencies, medical agencies etc)

If the accident was not recorded and there were no witnesses, it is vital you notify the police within 24 hours and your insurer as soon after the event as possible. If you are unable to, then ask another person to do it for you. It is also important to remember that in most cases you can only pursue a personal injury claim within 3 years of the accident or from the time you realised you had sustained injuries from the accident. In reality this means you must have “issued proceedings” with the court within 3 years to be allowed to pursue your claim. For Under 18’s who have suffered an injury, it must be done within 3 years of their 18th birthday. Only in exceptional circumstances can this time limitation be lifted and we would advise talking to us if this applies to you.

Second Step - Liability - Who Is To Blame?

Most people probably think accidents are either one person or another’s fault. In reality most accidents are rarely 100% one person’s fault. When considering liability for an accident, you need to consider matters from the perspective of all parties and consider who did what wrong. In complicated scenarios more than one person can be to blame for an accident. Where more than one person is to blame, they are each entitled to bring a claim, but the damages are reduced to take into account their responsibility. It is not just a question of looking at the Highway Code either. While a failure to observe the Highway Code may be evidence of blame for an accident, the whole of the circumstances have to be taken into account. If the breach did not cause or contribute to the accident it will be ignored in deciding who was to blame.

The percentage of your liability will have a direct effect on your damages. If you are found to be 25% liable for the accident, then you will lose 25% of the total amount awarded. For example, if your damages are calculated to be £10,000, you will receive £7,500. This means it’s absolutely vital that all the possible evidence must be comprehensively looked at before agreeing liability with the other side, as it can seriously affect the compensation you receive. However, on the positive side it means you can even receive accident compensation if the accident was mainly your fault.

We often hear of cases where the other party has admitted blame when the accident has actually happened, but a few days later, once the insurance companies are involved, they will say it was your fault! That’s why it’s so important to have all the facts together and to make sure a solicitor is working for you before liability is agreed, then they can make sure liability is correctly apportioned. An experienced solicitor, such as Routh Clarke, have many years experience in this difficult area of accident liability and will ensure liability is only agreed once you are happy it is at the right level.

Third Step - Damages Calculation - Evidence Of Losses Due To The Injury

Depending on your injury, this step can take a varying amount of time, as the full extent of your injuries will need to be ascertained in order to establish the level of damages you can receive. Sometimes when the injury is a fairly minor one, it can be calculated quite quickly. However, in more serious accidents it can take a reasonably long period of time to find out the true implications of the injuries gained in the accident. You may have needed operations, physio therapy, after care treatment etc. Medical reports will need to be written and perhaps even accountants reports produced. Then a “quantum assessment” will be carried out which looks at the different areas of the claim - the damages for the personal injury itself, any loss of earnings, pensions and any future care costs. This is where it is even more vital to have an experienced solicitor, like Routh Clarke on your side, so we can make sure every possible angle is covered.

Fourth Step - Negotiation - Settle Claim Or Go To Court

Once the calculating is finished, it’s time for negotiating a settlement. The other side may make an offer, called a “Part 36 Offer to settle” or a “Calderbank Offer” and it’s up to you to decide whether you accept it or perhaps go back with a counter offer. For a Part 36 Offer to settle, you are usually given 21 days from the date of the offer to make your decision. With a Calderbak Offer the time to decide can vary enormously.

Sometimes, when it is a very complex case, we may recommend a second opinion from an experienced personal injury barrister . They will produce an independent quantum report stating what they think your claim is worth. You will then have even more confidence in your decision to accept or reject the offer. If you decide to settle, you will receive your damages and the costs of your case are paid by the other side. However, please be aware that if you accepted the offer outside of the timeframe given, you may be liable for the costs of the other side and your solicitor from the end of the offer time frame until the date you accept the offer. If it is not possible to negotiate an acceptable offer, your case will have to go to court.

Fifth Step - Court

If an offer is rejected, or no offer to settle is received, your case now goes to court. To understand what happens at this stage please see our Personal Injury Court Proceedings Flowchart. This process can take a while, particularly if the judge requires more information or more steps to be taken. Settlement can take place at any point and often does, however, if it does not, your case will proceed to trial whereby the judge will decide whether a settlement should be made and how much should be awarded. If you have previously received a Part 36 offer to settle and rejected it, and the judge awards compensation which is lower than that offer, you may be liable for the costs of the other side from 21 days after the offer was made. However, this potential costs liability may be covered by any Legal Expenses Insurance cover you may have. You may also be liable for your own solicitor’s costs if they advised you to accept the offer. This whole process can become quite confusing, so we would advise talking to your solicitor about all the implications of offers when they are made, so you understand all the risks and can make an informed decision when any offer is made. If you have any questions about any of this, we are here to help and guide you.