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Minnie Palfreyman, solicitor in our serious injury department, takes care of some of our most severely injured clients who have had their lives turned upside down following a road traffic accident. Our clients understandably go through a very unsettling period in their lives, and our solicitors are on hand to guide them and be their trusted advisors through the legal process. Minnie shares her top 5 frequently asked questions from clients.

I have sustained a serious injury following a road traffic accident. How long will it take to settle my claim?

One common misconception about personal injury claims is that the process will be straight forward, and that compensation will follow shortly after the accident had occurred. Claiming compensation for personal injury isn’t always straight forwards and it can take years before your claim is ready to settle. Minster Law will accelerate cases as quickly as possible whilst ensuring that the case is fully investigated in order that the right amount of compensation is claimed for the injuries sustained. You can read more about your claims journey via our Help and Advice centre.

The third party admitted fault at the scene of the accident, does that mean my claim will settle quickly?

If you were involved in a road traffic accident and the third party admits fault and apologises to you at the scene of the accident, this admission doesn’t necessarily hold much weight in the eyes of the law. For example, after being involved in an accident, people tend to be in shock and may admit fault in error.

Personal injury claims are a type of civil claim which means that there is an entire legal process which needs to be followed  to pursue a claim for compensation. In order to successfully secure compensation, you must prove that the third party owed you a duty of care, they breached their duty of care i.e. was negligent, and that their negligence caused your injuries.

Why can’t I get my compensation straight after the accident?

There are three stages to overcome before your solicitor can negotiate an award for compensation for you:

1. The third party was negligent and at fault for the accident:

The claims process begins when your solicitor sends a ‘Letter of Claim’ to the third party’s insurers. The letter of claim essentially sets out why you are holding the other party responsible for the accident as well as detailing the injuries and losses you sustained as a result of the accident.

When the third party’s insurers receive the Letter of Claim, they will have 21 working days to acknowledge receipt and then a further three months to investigate liability.

As mentioned above, just because the third party may have accepted responsibility at the scene of the accident, this is not sufficient to prove that they were negligent. Their insurers will have to investigate whether or not legally their insured was at fault i.e. negligent.

When considering liability, the third party’s insurers are likely to take a statement from their insured, contact witnesses and take statements from them and obtain a copy of the police report.

2. The third party’s negligence CAUSED you to sustain injury:

If liability is admitted by the third party or their insurers, you then have to prove that their negligence caused you to sustain injuries.

In order to prove that their negligence caused your injuries, your solicitor will arrange for you to be examined by a medical expert. The medical expert will need to see copies of ALL your medical records so that they can see whether or not you have any pre-existing injuries or conditions that may affect their opinion.

The medical expert will be legally trained in drafting court compliant reports. After your examination, the expert will prepare a report commenting on your injuries and whether they believe that the accident caused you to sustain those injuries. This may appear straightforward however, this is not always the case. For example, it may be that the expert believes some of your symptoms were not caused by the accident and are actually pre-existing.

3. Valuing your claim:

Once you have established that that the third party was negligent and caused you to sustain injury, the next stage is for your solicitor to assess how much your claim is worth.

In order for your solicitor to be able to value your claim, all medical evidence must be complete so that your solicitor can understand how long you have suffered for or alternatively, how long you are likely to suffer for from your injuries.

Your solicitor will then be able to look at court guidelines and previous cases that have been heard at court to decide how much they think your claim is worth.

Despite the above, if liability is resolved at an early stage, we can apply for an interim payment on the damages we would be looking to claim in the future, which is usually an upfront payment of around £2,000 – £5,000. Our interim payments guide will give you more information around what these are and how they can support you financially.

Will I have to go to court?

Generally, most personal injury claims settle outside of court. Court is an absolute last resort and the courts would expect both parties to attempt to settle the claim without litigation.

It is not always possible to reach an agreement with the third party insurers and it may be that proceeding to court is the only way forward. If this is the case, your solicitor will decide whether or not your claim has sufficient prospects of success at court.

What can Minster Law do accelerate my case?

Here at Minster Law, we ensure that all evidence needed to secure a liability admission is obtained from the outset. Even if liability appears straight forward, we will obtain witness statements, a copy of the police report and all available evidence to ensure that we are prepared for any arguments raised the third party’s insurers.

We will also endeavour to persuade the responsible party’s insurers to agree to the instruction of a case manager to assess your rehabilitation needs. This assessment is called an Immediate Needs Assessment (“INA”). The case manager will compile a report which sets out any treatment that you may benefit from now and in the future.

Don’t forget to check out our Help and Advice centre for more frequently asked questions, guides, and support.