Injury claims – the legal process
The first step is to chat to one of our friendly, expert lawyers about the injury you suffered (including treatment already received and that you may still need).
They will also run through what happened to cause the injuries. In particular who was to blame and how the incident could have been avoided.
We’ll give you free initial advice on the likely level of compensation you will receive if you decide to use us to bring your case. You can do this by using our Free Initial Assessment service.
Then we will work with you to start to put together all the evidence we will need to prove your claim. There are three main areas of information gathering:
We will ask you about:
- The pain and suffering you have been through.
- Any treatment already received and any that is still needed.
- Any relevant past medical problems (that have perhaps been made worse).
- The impact of you being injured on your family and any extra support needed as a result.
- Anything else relevant to your claim.
2: Losses and expenses
We will find out about all areas of loss and expense caused by your injury. Our aim is to recover compensation to put you back in the financial position you would have been in if the incident had not occurred.
We will cover everything (including predicted future losses), but usually the main areas of loss are:
- Lost income (not just salary, but also lost overtime and bonuses).
- Damaged property and possessions.
- Travel costs.
- Treatment and medical expenses.
We will collect the evidence needed to prove who was to blame for causing the incident. This is called proving liability.
Each case is different but this evidence can include:
- Photos and plans.
- Details of witnesses (including witness’ statements).
- Internal investigations and records (where a company may be to blame).
- Official reports (such as a police investigation report or health and safety executive report).
Sometimes we will also need to instruct (at no cost to you) an independent expert to report on what has happened to support the claim.
The next step is for us to lodge an official notification of your claim. There are strict rules which have to be followed, but your lawyer will make sure your claim is presented in the best possible way. To speed up the process we are registered to use the Ministry of Justice electronic portal wherever this is available.
This starts a legal process. It will lead to time limits for both us and your opponent’s insurers to comply with.
The official notification is usually dealt with by the insurers of the person or company who we consider to be to blame for causing the incident.
Your opponent will have to respond to the notification. In particular they have to say whether they accept full blame, part of the blame or if they deny all responsibility for what happened to you (rejecting your claim). Whichever happens, your lawyer will know how best to deal with their response to protect your interests. Where necessary it may mean we will need to gather additional evidence to support your case.
The next step is for us to arrange (at no cost to you) for you to have an independent medical examination by an approved expert doctor.
There are rules we will ensure are followed to cover the type of medical expert used and how they are instructed. Sometimes more than one report is permitted.
The report is important as the doctor will assess to what extent your injuries were caused by the incident and predict how long the suffering caused by the incident will last.
Once we have received the report we will use it to place a financial value on your injury compensation to cover your pain, suffering and inconvenience.
If there are aspects of the report you are not happy with, where the rules allow, we may be able to go back to the doctor or even get a second opinion. However, even where allowed, there will be consequences and your lawyer will be able to offer you the best tactical advice.
Injury compensation valuation
The valuation of your injury compensation will use court guidelines and a review of the awards made in similar previous cases (that were assessed by the courts).
This will reflect:
- Your level of pain and suffering due to the incident.
- If you were already unwell – how much the incident made those problems worse.
- The treatment you needed.
- How long the worst symptoms lasted.
- How long your recovery took, is likely to take or if you will never fully recover.
- How you injuries affected your work, home life and your family and social life and hobbies.
Armed with all the evidence we’ve gathered, the next step is for us to present your full case to your opponent’s representatives, in what is often called a settlement pack. Although the format may vary, this will include:
- The medical report.
- Our injury compensation valuation.
- Full calculations of losses caused by your injury (including future losses).
- Evidence such as receipts, tickets and other proof of your costs.
- Any evidence we have gathered to prove liability (if the opponent has not already accepted they were to blame).
We will present the evidence in the best way to maximise recovery in accordance with the rules and based on what can be proved with the evidence.
Offer to settle claim
We will have gone through all of the information with you and advised how much we think a court would award you based on all the evidence. With your agreement we will put forward the pre-agreed figure you would accept as a fair compensation.
The insurers representing your opponent may either agree or come back with a lower offer based on their own evidence. This is the process of settlement negotiations.
Any settlement offers the opponent makes will be reviewed with you, with the aim of negotiating an amount, based on what we believe a court would award based on the evidence. If you wish to accept the compensation negotiated then it is important you understand that if you accept it – it will be a full and final settlement. It will be binding on you and your opponent. You would not be able to claim more in the future (even if your medical condition deteriorates or your level of losses turns out to be more than predicted).
This out of court settlement is what happens in the majority of cases – so usually the next stage is compensation (see step 6).
Occasionally, after we have tried negotiations, an insurer (representing the opponent) will only offer a level of compensation we think is too low.
We will talk you though any offer made. In particular we will advise you on how it compares to what we think you would be awarded if you decided to fight on, using the court process.
We will discuss the evidence, along with the strengths and weaknesses of your case and the opponent’s. We will give you our view about what would happen at court. Our role is to provide clear advice in plain English – not legal jargon. That way you are able to make an informed decision on what you want to do next.
Then if you decide it is too low, and you decide to fight on, we can then prepare for issue of court proceedings. This means starting the court process, by notifying the court of the dispute. We’ll discuss the tactics of this approach to ensure we get the best outcome for you. Court is not needed very often to get fair compensation, but if it is we will support you through the process.
We will complete the official claim form and file the papers at the court, paying an issue fee.
Issuing will trigger a deadline for the opponent to respond. The judge will then set a timetable of steps (aimed at both sides reaching agreement). Most cases still do not go to a trial and the court process tries to help both sides reach a negotiated settlement.
Sometimes, just the issue of court proceedings can be enough to secure an increased offer from your opponent. Realistically it will take at least a further six months before the court assessment.
The court assessment can take different forms – depending on what parts of your case the insurers do not accept:
- It can be a judge simply reviewing the paperwork and making an award.
- It can be an informal meeting at court where we get a chance to explain your case.
- If the insurers do not accept blame for what happened, then it can be a full trial with witnesses giving evidence.
Whichever form it takes, after considering the evidence we prepared to prove your claim, the judge will make a decision regarding how much compensation the insurers must pay you
The final step at the end of a successful claim will be the insurance company representing your opponent will make you a compensation payment. This will be either the compensation:
- Agreed by negotiation with your opponent’s representatives, or
- Awarded by the judge at court.
Each case is different, but in most cases your compensation will cover:
- Your pain, suffering and inconvenience (already suffered and predicted for the future).
- Losses and expenses (such as lost income, medical treatment costs and travel).
- Recovery, care and rehabilitation expenses.
- Future losses and expenses (where it is predicted you will need long-term support).