We aim to keep our clients fully informed of the progress of their claim at all stages.
These are the key stages to making a claim:
We will contact you by telephone to discuss the circumstances of your accident and advise you whether we feel that you have a claim and reasonable prospects of success.
If you wish to instruct our firm we will send you our welcome pack and terms of business for you to sign and return to us so that we can proceed with your claim. We cannot proceed until we receive your signed copy.
You will be assigned a Case Handler who will deal with you throughout the life of your claim. If however, on the rare instance that your claim needs to be handled by a different Case Handler, you will be informed of this decision and introduced to your new Case Handler.
All our communication with you will be by letter, telephone, fax or email so you do not need to be local to our offices. However, occasionally we may need to see you in person and in that case we will visit you in your area at a time to suit you.
We will require your written instructions at key stages of your claim and for the most part we will send you appropriate mandate forms for this, which are set out in very simple tick box formats with a signature request at the bottom. Initially there may be some longer forms to complete such as our accident questionnaires, however these are a necessary part of the process and enable us to obtain full details of your accident at the outset.
Letter of Claim
The first step is to prepare a "Letter of Claim" which we will send to the Third Party (TP) on your behalf. This letter will detail the circumstances of the accident and the injuries you have sustained, as well as giving the reasons why they are considered to be responsible for your injury.
The TP will give this letter to their insurers, who have three months from the date of the letter to investigate the matter and reply with their opinion on where the fault lies.
In the meantime, we will continue to communicate with you and collect all the evidence you have to prove your claim such as any police reports, GP and/or Hospital records, accident book records, photographs, witness statements, your statement etc.
If Liability is Admitted
If the TP admits that it was responsible for the accident, then the next stage is to quantify the injuries part of your claim i.e. how much compensation you are entitled to for your injuries.
Obtaining Medical Evidence
We do this by arranging for you to be seen by a medical expert in your area who will write a medical report about your injuries and how these are affecting you. This often takes time as medical experts have very busy schedules and there may be waiting lists for appointments.
Again there may be a short delay while we wait for the medical report to arrive. Once we receive and have reviewed the report, we will send you a copy and if you are happy with the report we will ask you to sign a mandate form giving us permission to send the report to the TP’s insurers to negotiate settlement.
If you require physiotherapy or rehabilitation, we will help you arrange this and recover the costs for you from the TP.
Preparing a Schedule of Financial Losses
Whilst collecting medical evidence we will proceed to prepare a schedule of your financial losses. This is a legal document which will list all of the financial expenditure you have incurred or lost due to your accident and subsequent injuries.
This schedule will include items such as damaged clothing, vehicle storage charges, the cost of medication, travel expenses to and from medical appointments, the cost of rehabilitation, care that you may have received from family and/or friends whilst injured and lost wages. Please keep receipts or evidence of all losses as these will be required to prove your financial losses.
Once we have collected all of your financial losses we will send the schedule to you with a mandate form for you to sign to confirm that you are happy with the contents and to give us authority to send this schedule to the TP’s insurers to negotiate settlement.
In some cases we can obtain an temporary payment from the TP to assist you if you are suffering from a loss of earnings or have additional costs due to your injuries.
You will be informed of any offers we receive from the TP’s insurers to settle your claim. Your Case Handler will be able to give you advice on whether the offer is a reasonable one, or whether to negotiate for more.
At times it may be sensible to put forward our own offer to settle and your Case Handler can advise you whether this is the case in your claim.
Some accidents are partly the fault of the person claiming and in these circumstances offers on liability may be put forward on a percentage basis e.g. the Claimant is 20% responsible for their accident and the TP for the remaining 80%. Again you will be advised by your Case Handler whether this is appropriate and the reasonableness of the offer.
If Liability is Denied
If the TP denies that they are responsible for your accident then we may need to pursue the claim through the Courts.
The Law states that a Claimant has 3 years from the date of their accident in which to make a claim. For minors this is extended to 3 years after their 18th birthday. This is known as the Limitation Period and after this time i.e. by the Limitation date, a claim cannot be made.
In some cases we need to start protective proceedings because the claim is nearing the Limitation date and liability has not been established. In these cases we will file your claim with the Courts which enables us to continue to pursue your claim after the Limitation date has been reached.
Serving Court Proceedings
If Liability is denied then the case may proceed to Court. We will file your claim in the Courts of Law and through this process steps to negotiate settlement are sometimes obtained.
Going to Trial
Each case is unique and we will communicate with Counsel and your Legal Expense Insurers and advise you every step of the way.
If your case does go to Trial, then you may be required to attend a Hearing and/or Counsel meeting. We will be with you every step of the way and do our best to make this as easy for you as possible.
If your claim is successful and you are offered compensation and wish to accept the offer, then we will send you a mandate form for you to tick and sign confirming this.
Once we receive the signed form we can confirm to the TP that their offer is accepted. We then await their settlement cheque which is processed through our accounts department and your compensation is sent to you via automated bank transfer or by cheque. Please allow eight working days from the time we receive your settlement amount to the time you receive it.
Sadly not all claims are successful. If the TP continues to deny liability and Counsel advise that there are low prospects of success if the claim goes to Trial, and/or your Legal Expense Insurers withdraw indemnity then the case will fail. Alternatively claims can go to Trial and the case may be lost at that stage.
The good news in these cases, is that you are not responsible to pay any of our costs or disbursements if your claim fails.
We are very grateful to all of our clients who take the time to complete our feedback forms, which we send out at the end of the claim. We welcome feedback from our clients - good or bad, as through this we can improve on our already strong reputation.