personal injury claim guide

Document Sample
personal injury claim guide Powered By Docstoc
					personal injury
claim guide

The Personal Injury (PI) Department               I   Insurance: You may be covered for PI
at Buckles Solicitors LLP has decades                 accidents under an insurance policy you
of experience helping clients seek                    have taken out, such as a motor or
compensation. This guide has been                     house contents policy, so we will need
designed to provide an overview of the                to inspect these documents. If you have
claims process.                                       legal expenses cover, we will write to
                                                      your insurers who may appoint us to act
who can bring a claim?                                for you. Some insurers prefer to use their
                                                      own panel solicitors and we will advise
A claim may be brought by anyone who has              you as to the advantages and
sustained an injury, or on a child’s behalf by        disadvantages of using their services
a parent or legal guardian. Unfortunately,        I   Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA): If
some accidents do result in death and in              you do not have legal expenses cover or
these cases the victim’s dependants are               you choose not to use the insurer’s
usually able to start the claim process for the       panel solicitors, then a CFA may be
benefit of the deceased’s estate.                     appropriate for you. A CFA is more
                                                      commonly known as a no win, no fee
when can you make a claim?                            agreement and this will be fully
                                                      explained by a member of our team.
There is a legal time limit of three years
from the date of an accident to start a           We can also help you by arranging an after
PI claim. For children, this time limit           event insurance policy to protect you in
applies but does not start until their 18th       respect of the other side’s costs should the
birthday. The exceptions to the three year        claim be unsuccessful.
time limit are:
                                                  3. Letter of claim
I   If you were injured in a plane or at sea      A letter of claim is then sent to the potential
    then a two year limit applies                 defendants (person/company etc) you are
I   If you only become aware of an injury         claiming against. The defendants have 21
    after the act of negligence (e.g.             days from receipt of the letter to pass it on to
    industrial disease cases such as              their insurers. Once they have received the
    asbestosis).                                  letter, the insurers have three months to gather
                                                  evidence, investigate the claim and respond.
the accident claim process:
                                                  4. Medical evidence
1. Instructions                                   While the insurance company investigates
The initial stage of the claim process is to      the claim we may use the time to obtain
inform one of our team about your accident.       medical evidence. With your permission, we
We will arrange an appointment at one of          will write to your GP/hospital and ask them
our offices, or if you are unable to travel, we   for copies of your medical notes and
will come and see you. It is important that       records. We will then arrange for you to see
you provide as much information as you            a specialist medical expert who is able to
can at this stage, so that we can fully advise    provide a report commenting on your
you as to the merits of bringing the claim.       injuries, future care, treatment, and prognosis.

2. Funding                                        5. Witness evidence
The next step is to look at how your claim        It is useful to gather evidence from any
will be funded:                                   witnesses to your accident, including any
                                       personal injury claims guide

                                       helpful statements from family or friends          I   Loss of earnings due to enforced
  How a personal injury                regarding your injuries and the lifestyle              Statutory Sick Pay
    case progresses                    limitations these may have imposed.                I   Loss of earnings due to having to take a
                                                                                              lesser paid job as a result of your injury
                                       6. Admission of liability/negotiation of a         I   Loss of pension if you are unable to
  Inform one of our team about
                                       settlement                                             return to work
           the accident
                                       After investigating the claim, insurers may        I   Travelling expenses
                                       admit that their insured is to blame. If this is   I   Purchasing of prescriptions
                                       so, we will try and agree a sum to settle          I   Cost of rehabilitation products for your
We will advise you as to how the
     claim should be funded
                                       your claim, once your medical evidence has             injury
                                       been compiled and a schedule of your past          I   Cost of a hire car.
           Claim letter                and future losses prepared.
 A detailed letter of claim will be                                                       You should keep receipts for any losses and
 sent to the potential defendants      7. Part 36 offer                                   expenses including any journeys made
                                       Either party can make a formal offer at any        relating to your injury as this will make it
        Medical evidence               time under Part 36 of the Civil Procedure          easier to claim money back. Any future
Hospital or GP’s records and notes     Rules. If an offer is made or received the         losses and expenses will be awarded for the
       need to be obtained             implications of it will be explained at the        likely period of loss.
                                       time by our team member dealing with
             Damages                   your claim.                                        Interim damages: Claims can take many
From the medical evidence, it will                                                        months to settle and in some cases interim
become clearer as to the value of      8. Court proceedings                               payments may be paid to you. This award
             the claim                 If no agreement can be reached or there            of damages takes into account your
                                       is no admission of liability, then the only        immediate financial outgoings if you are
   Pass on medical evidence            way to resolve your claim is to begin Court        away from work and not being paid your
 Medical evidence will be sent to      proceedings. However, the vast majority            full salary. Any interim damages awarded
          the defendants
                                       of cases we deal with settle before going          will be deducted from the final award.
                                       to Court.
        Witness evidence
                                                                                          Reduction in damages: Even if you were
 Evidence needs to be obtained
                                       9. Damages                                         partly to blame for your accident you may
        from any witnesses
                                       Damages is the recognised term used for            still be able to recover some compensation.
                                       the compensation you will receive if your          However, there may be a reduction of the
      Admission of blame
                                       claim is successful. There are several             amount of damages awarded to take into
 If the defendants admit liability
                                       different areas to consider when analysing         account your contributory negligence (e.g.
    then they normally settle
           out of Court
                                       the amount of damages available:                   not wearing a seatbelt in a road traffic
                                                                                          accident caused by another motorist).
       Court proceedings               General damages: General damages
If the defendant does not accept       include compensation for the pain and              10. Claiming state benefits
 liability or the value of the claim   suffering you have had to cope with after          You may be able to claim state benefits such
 then the case is taken to Court       sustaining the injury, as well as your inability   as Incapacity Benefit. Once this money has
                                       to carry out day to day tasks and loss of          been paid to you it is likely to be deducted
             Outcome                   quality of life (e.g. if you are no longer able    from your final award for damages.
   A Judge will make a decision        to carry out your usual sports or hobbies).
       as to liability and the                                                            11. Mitigation
  value of the claim based upon        Special damages: This may include                  You have a duty to keep your losses to
    all the evidence provided          compensation for money you have to pay             a minimum and if you do not do so
                                       out, or have lost because of the accident. It      you may be awarded less compensation; for
                                       may cover areas such as:                           example, if you do not return to work
or do not seek alternative employment                a different method or procedure they may
when you are well enough to do so.                   not necessarily be negligent. The Claimant              How a clinical
                                                     must show that the medical practitioner has            negligence case
12. Costs                                            followed a course of action which is not                 progresses
How the costs are paid depends upon how              supported by any reasonable body of
the case is being funded. With most                  medical opinion. The Claimant must then show
successful cases the defendant’s insurers            that this breach of duty caused their injury.
                                                                                                       inform one of our team about
agree to pay our legal costs. If we have                                                                   the alleged negligence
entered into a CFA with you then we do not           the clinical        negligence        claim
recover any costs from you.                          process:
                                                                                                      We will advise you as to how the
CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE                                  The process for claiming in clinical negli-
                                                                                                         claim should be funded
                                                     gence differs slightly from accident claims.
The UK has an outstanding reputation for the
                                                                                                             Medical evidence
provision of quality healthcare services and it is   1. Instructions
                                                                                                      Hospital and GP’s records need to
widely accepted that our healthcare profession-      Your first step is to inform one of our team
                                                                                                                 be obtained
als are some of the best in the world.               about the facts of the case and upon that
However, mistakes are occasionally made              basis we will advise you as to the merits of
and the results can be severe. Often, clients        bringing the claim. It is essential at this             Witness evidence
                                                                                                       Evidence needs to be obtained
are not interested in financial gain from            point to bring with you as much
                                                                                                            from any witnesses
taking legal action, but simply demand the           information and documentation as possible
knowledge of what happened to you or                 regarding your claim. One of our team
your loved ones and why it happened.                 members will also discuss with you the ways              Expert’s reports
                                                     the claim can be funded should they feel              Obtain advice from an
time limits                                          you have a strong case.                            independent medical expert

As with a normal accident claim you have             2. Medical evidence                                        Claim letter
three years from the date of the act of              With your permission we will obtain copies       A detailed letter of claim will be
negligence to bring a claim or three years           of your medical notes and records from           sent to the potential defendants
from the date you knew or should have                your GP/hospital.
known that you might have a claim                                                                            Admission of blame
(whichever is the later). In the case of             3. Witness evidence                               If the defendants admit liability
children, the three year period runs from            At this point, it would be useful to obtain           then they normally settle
their 18th birthday.                                 statements from any witnesses to the                        out of Court
                                                     alleged negligence.
a successful claim                                                                                            Court proceedings
                                                     4. Expert’s reports                                  If the defendant does not
To bring a clinical negligence claim you will        Once we have your medical records we will               accept liability or the
                                                                                                            value of the claim then
need to show that:                                   instruct a medical expert to prepare a report
                                                                                                          the case is taken to Court
                                                     providing their opinion about whether there
I   The medical practitioner owed you a              has been negligence by the medical
    duty of care                                     practitioner. We will then need to obtain a                  Outcome
                                                                                                        A Judge will make a decision
    He or she breached that duty                     separate report dealing with the issue of
                                                                                                            as to liability and the
I   Loss was suffered as a result of that            whether the negligence caused injury.
                                                                                                       value of the claim based upon
    breach of duty.
                                                                                                         all the evidence provided
                                                     5. Letter of claim
It can be difficult to show all three elements.      Once we have received the expert’s reports
Just because a medical practitioner may use          and, if they are helpful to your case, we will
                                personal injury
                                claim guide

send a detailed letter of claim to the potential       compensation from being swallowed up
defendants. They will have three months to             in later life to pay for long term care in a
provide a response.                                    Care Home or your own home. Even a
                                                       relatively small sum held in a PI Trust can
6. Settlement                                          be used to protect the entire value of
Once the defendants have investigated the              your home from Care Home Fees; please
claim they will either admit or deny liability.        ask for details.
If there is an admission of liability we will
then take steps to put a value on your claim.      TYPES OF CLAIMS WE CAN HELP
We will need to obtain additional medical          WITH
evidence dealing with the extent to which
the negligence has caused you injury,              I   Road traffic accidents
namely the nature and duration of your             I   Clinical negligence (claims against a
injuries. If there is no admission of liability        hospital, your GP, dentist or other
the only way to proceed may be to issue                medical treatment provider)
and serve Court proceedings against the            I   Work-related accidents
defendant. However, the vast majority of           I   Industrial diseases and work related
cases settle before going to Court.                    disorders (such as Tinnitus)
                                                   I   Pavement trips
7. Part 36 offers                                  I   Slips
Refer to step 7 of the accident claim process.     I   Household accidents
                                                   I   Travel and holiday claims
8. Damages                                         I   Injuries sustained from faulty products
Refer to step 9 of the accident claim process.     I   Criminal injuries.
                                                                                                        Buckles Solicitors LLP
9. Costs                                           TEAM PROFILE                              
Refer to step 12 of the accident claim
process, although please note that Legal           Roger Clarke, a partner and head of the                           Peterborough
Aid is sometimes available in clinical             team, has many years experience dealing                       Tel: 01733 888888
negligence cases.                                  with all types of claims. He specialises in                  Fax: 01733 888999
                                                   high value claims, particularly those     
PERSONAL INJURY TRUSTS                             involving fatal accidents and serious spinal
                                                   or head injuries.                                                       Stamford
At the end of a successful PI claim you will       01733 888903                                                  Tel: 01780 484570
receive a compensation payment. Rather                                  Fax: 01780 484571
than putting the money into your bank                                                        
account, an alternative is to set up a PI          Janet Cooper, a personal injury executive,
Trust. There are two key reasons why you           specialises in tinnitus cases and road traffic                        Whittlesey
may want to consider this:                         accidents.
                                                                                                                 Tel: 01733 200910
                                                   01733 888913
                                                                                                                Fax: 01733 200911
I   If you are receiving any means-tested
    benefits, then a lump sum compen-
    sation payment may result in these             John Moorman has been a personal injury
    benefits being reduced or withdrawn.           executive with the firm for over 25 years,           Buckles Solicitors LLP is regulated by the
                                                                                                        Solicitors Regulation Authority
    Placing your payment into a Trust could        specialising in serious injury claims and
                                                                                                        This guide has been prepared for general interest and it is
    enable you to continue receiving               frequently deals with clinical negligence claims.    important to obtain professional advice on specific issues. We
                                                                                                        believe the information contained in it to be correct as at the time

    benefits and keep your lump sum                01733 888901                                         of publication. While all possible care is taken in the preparation of
                                                                                                        this newsletter, no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person
                                                                                                        acting or refraining from acting as a result of the material
I   A PI Trust could also protect your                          contained herein can be accepted by the firm or the authors.