Carly Philp is a senior associate solicitor in our litigation and personal injury team. Here, she answered some of the most frequent questions we are asked about this field of law.
I am not sure if I am entitled to compensation – is there a way to check?
If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to claim compensation. If you are unsure, please check by calling and speaking to us.
I feel nervous about making a claim – what is the process and what will be required of me?
Initially, you will be required to discuss all the circumstances of the incident with us. You will be asked to keep a diary of how you feel day-to-day. You will also be asked to keep receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the incident. For example, if you have been involved in a car accident, you may have to pay an insurance excess to get your vehicle repaired.
We will then contact the opponent on your behalf. If the opponent accepts responsibility for the incident, you will be required to attend an assessment with an independent medical expert. We will make all the arrangements for you. At this assessment your diary comes in handy to remind you about how your symptoms have progressed. The medical expert may recommend treatment, and this will also be arranged for you. Once the medical expert has reported and treatment is completed, we will ask you to send in copies of all your receipts.
Your claim will then be valued using the medical report and receipts, among other things.
We will then start negotiations with your opponent on your behalf. If a reasonable settlement offer is made, you will be advised to accept the same and you will be required to provide us with your bank details. Payment is usually made within 3 weeks of an offer being accepted and this will draw matters to a close.
If negotiations break down, you may be required to start court proceedings. This does not mean that you will automatically have to go to court because negotiations can continue, and claims can settle at any time. Even if matters do progress to a hearing, we will guide you through the process step-by-step. You will only ever be advised to take matters to court where your prospects of success are good. If we do not consider your claim to have good prospects of success, we will advise you to discontinue.
Will all of the details of the accident be shared with a lot of people?
The details of the accident will be shared with us, your insurer, your opponent, their advisors, the medical experts, and the court (if matters get that far). Every professional involved has a duty to keep your details confidential.
How long does it take from start to finish?
It depends what type of accident/incident you have had. For example, in road traffic accident claims, the opponent has 15 working days to carry out their own investigations and respond with their decision on liability. In accidents at work, your employer gets 30 working days and in public liability claims, such as tripping claims, the opponent gets 40 working days.
Overall, straightforward claims can take up to 6 months to complete. If you require treatment, the claim may take longer until it is clear you are on the road to recovery. It is important to make sure that you have a recovered or you know what your recovery will look like, before the claim is settled, otherwise you might lose out.
More complex claims can take up to 2 years or possibly longer depending on the action that is required and the attitude of the opponent or their insurance company.
You have 3 years from the incident date to either settle your claim or bring it to the court’s attention. The court then provides its’ own timetable for drawing matters to a close.
Will I have to pay for legal support even if I don’t receive compensation?
Personal Injury claims are usually funded under a Conditional Fee Agreement, more colloquially known as “no win, no fee” agreements. This means that, if your claim fails, we write our costs off and we all walk away empty handed.
To protect you from ever having to pay your opponent’s legal costs and your own disbursements (such as medical report fees and court fees) you may be advised to take out an After-The-Event (ATE) insurance policy.
If your claim fails and you have ATE insurance cover in place, the insurers will pick up any costs and expenses that we cannot write off.
Do I have to pay anything towards legal support if my claim is successful?
If your claim is successful, we can deduct a success fee from your compensation at the end. The success fee can be no more than the total of our costs, and no more than 25% of your compensation. The maximum that will be deducted from your compensation by way of a success fee is therefore 25%.
If you have taken ATE insurance cover out and your claim is successful, the insurance premium will also be deducted at the end. The insurance premium varies and depends on the amount the claim settles for and the stage the claim settles.