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Securing interim payments for seriously injured clients

Mark Ellis, serious injury solicitor at Minster Law, discusses the process of securing interim payments for seriously injured clients.

Whenever I speak to a new client or their family, the crash that has caused them to sustain serious injury has always turned their world upside down.

Rehabilitation and the way forward are common first questions but the first thing on a person’s mind usually relates to money, asking how they will manage for money now that they or their loved ones have suddenly lost the ability to work.

The answer lies in negotiating an interim payment with the insurer for the other person involved in the crash. This is relatively straightforward when there can be no dispute (or no significant dispute) as to who was responsible for causing the crash.

However, the circumstances surrounding the crash are often far from straightforward, especially for motorcycle claims. In potential high-value cases, the insurers acting for the other driver involved will want to make their own enquires about the crash before formally admitting liability.

Unfortunately, it is often difficult to access at an early stage any liability evidence about the crash from the police investigating the circumstances of the crash because they do not wish to prejudice the potential criminal prosecution of the driver that is considered to be at fault.

It can take a long time for the case to be heard in the criminal courts if the other driver pleads not guilty to any criminal charge. This means that it can take many months (often well over a year) to obtain disclosure from the police as they wait until the criminal prosecution has concluded before releasing evidence to us. The delay in the conclusion of criminal proceedings can mean waiting a long time for the insurers of the other driver to admit formal liability.

In my experience, defendant insurers will usually want to provide financial support and rehabilitation when they realise that they are likely to ultimately be paying most (if not all) of a compensation claim. Therefore, as my client’s solicitor, it is crucially important to not only have an early conversation with the defendant insurer but also to seek to secure liability evidence at the outset (even if the police have also obtained it).

CCTV is an important piece of evidence, which is increasingly available these days and is often the best indication of what took place at the time of the crash. If liability for the crash is disputed, footage can be examined by a CCTV analysis expert and an accident reconstruction expert can provide an opinion on the likely cause of an accident. Witnesses at the scene can also be asked to sign a statement for use within the civil proceedings, even if they have already provided a statement to the police.

I have been involved in cases where no liability evidence is forthcoming at an early stage from police, but CCTV was obtained from private premises or local authorities. This has been disclosed to the opposition to secure interim payments on behalf of my clients. Without CCTV, it would have been much more difficult to secure any interim payments.

In a recent case of mine where liability was fiercely contested, CCTV evidence was critical to secure a six-figure interim payment from the court. The court was satisfied that my client would be awarded substantial compensation at trial, based on CCTV (in conjunction with accident reconstruction evidence), and were also prepared to award an interim payment.

There will always be some cases where liability disputes are so significant that it is not possible to negotiate an interim payment. My experience is that, in most cases, securing early evidence from CCTV footage or witnesses can mean that the insurers for the other driver can volunteer interim payments and rehabilitation at an early stage of the claim (even if on a without prejudice basis whilst liability investigations continue). This can provide invaluable time to an injured client to claim any relevant DWP benefits to supplement any interim payment whilst the full police evidence awaits.

The wealth of experience of those dealing with serious injury claims at Minster Law means that we are there to support and advise our clients in the early stages on liability, interim payments, and rehabilitation issues. Whilst we try to work collaboratively with the opposing insurers wherever possible, we will also fight to secure appropriate funding for our clients so that their financial and rehabilitation needs are covered as early as possible.