Once you have instructed us we will ask you a number of questions to help us advance your claim. The answers you give will help us advise you on the strength of your claim.
Our enquiries will concentrate on the two most important elements of your claim.
- That the Defendant as a matter of law is responsible for what has happened. This is called liability.
- The implications of what has happened which will determine the amount payable. This is called quantum.
There are various protocols to help resolve claims as quickly and fairly as possible. Under the protocols, appropriate details of the claim are to be provided to the Defendant to enable them to make a decision on the case and enable the Defendant to investigate the claim properly and make a timely decision. In the event that court proceedings are commenced, the court will expect both parties to have complied with the protocols, which means we need to be able to act swiftly on your behalf.
In addition to complying with the court protocols, we will also need to make further enquiries in your case. For example, in some cases, the identity of the defendant is not straightforward and further evidence may be required about how the accident occurred.
The main areas of a claim are as follows:-
The objective of the claim is to establish that the defendant is liable for your injuries. Our enquiries will concentrate mainly on the factual background of what has happened. We will identify the defendant and the reasons why we believe the Defendant is to blame. The following list is not exhaustive but it gives an indication of the type of things that need to be considered:-
- The basis on which liability may be established;
- The identity of the potential Defendants and whether they have the means to meet the claim i.e. we need to check if there is an insurance policy;
- Any issues of jurisdiction (did the accident occur abroad?);
- Limitation (when must court proceedings be commenced);
- Information to prepare a preliminary statement as well as appropriate statements from family members, friends and work colleagues about the accident or events.
The Serious Injury or Illness Claims process
Serious injury or illness claims cannot be managed by the normal personal injury claims management systems that practitioners often use for routine minor or moderate injury claims. The solicitor must investigate and identify not only the devastating effects upon the injured person but also the impact that the injuries or illness has upon the family and others who are close to the victim. The impact could be felt financially, emotionally and even occasionally culturally. Often clients (contrary to popular belief) try to hide the full extent of their injuries and their need for support which needs to be addressed in evidence.
We concentrate on meeting the practical and financial needs arising from your injuries. The purpose of compensation is to put you back in the position you would have been in had you not been injured. To do this we need to obtain evidence and to prove the claim.
The points that need to be considered are:-
- Details of the injuries and/or illness, the medical evidence required and specifically a lead medical report to particularise the nature and extent of the injuries;
- Whether an early application for an interim payment should be made once the Defendants are notified of the claim so as to provide financial funds for rehabilitation;
- Whether the client would benefit from any form of rehabilitation and whether the rehabilitation code should be implemented;
- The client’s care needs and what he or she is receiving. These include whether the services of a case manager are required and, if so, to undertake what activities;
- To consider the client’s accommodation requirements in light of any disability;
- Whether any application should be made for assistance including assessments by other agencies such as the local authority, social services, or the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP);
- Whether there are any other services that could and should be applied for i.e. some charitable organisations and hospices;
- Whether benefits are being paid and whether any applications should be made for additional benefits, treatment and help.
Strategy and team approach
When the solicitor discusses the future strategy regarding the claim, it is usual for a barrister to have been instructed as part of the team approach. For more complex cases, Leading Counsel (called Queen’s Counsel – QC) and Junior Counsel are instructed. They are able to advise regularly on specific queries and attend conferences. The team works together to form the strategy for the litigation as a whole and the team is involved in setting a clear plan for the investigations, the enquiries to be undertaken and the issues to be addressed. The important considerations are:
- Whether the case should proceed by way of a split trial i.e. should there be an early hearing to determine particular issues before the other evidence in the case is obtained
- Whether an interim payment should be sought and, if so, how much and what the money should be used for
- The scope of the medical evidence to be obtained
- Any strategic issues regarding the case
How do I make sure I claim everything I am entitled to?
We are experienced in identifying what can be claimed to ensure that you get the right compensation. We know the right experts to instruct and will ensure that all your losses and expenses are claimed for. These can include such things as loss of earnings, accommodation needs, as well as help with DIY, gardening and daily care. If a home needs to be purchased or adapted in view of your injuries or illness, we know who to instruct to advise on your needs.
Rehabilitation is an important part of your recovery. We can enable you to gain the right help and advice as soon as possible. We work with experts and the NHS to make sure that clients’ on-going care and treatment is as continuous and straight forward as possible.
You will need to see several experts during your time in hospital and on your return to home; we coordinate this and ensure that you see the right experts at the right time. An experienced lawyer can help you gain access to the right support and services that you need.
What evidence do I need to make a claim?
To make a successful claim for compensation, you need to prove that someone else was to blame for your accident and your injuries. Generally the stronger the evidence, the stronger the claim. For example, in a road traffic accident, we would start with the evidence you already have, and we would then help you collect the other evidence you need for your case — such as other witness statements. Or if you were involved in an accident at work, examples of other workplace accidents would be relevant to your case.
We can help you collect all the evidence you need to make your claim.
It is often the case that a client or his or her family do not seek legal advice or assistance for a significant time after the date of their injury or illness. This can be due to a number of reasons. Quite understandably, they have been concentrating on treatment, rehabilitation and recovery. However, if you or a loved one have been involved in a serious accident or have a serious illness, you should seek expert legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Cases involving serious injuries or illnesses can take a considerable amount of time to resolve and, therefore, it is important to know when court proceedings need to be issued. If it is left too late it may not be possible to pursue a claim.
The general rule is that you have three years from the date of the accident or date of knowledge. However, there are exceptions to this rule, so seek legal advice as soon as you can.