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Serious Injury

For customers suffering serious injury e.g. Amputation, brain injury or multiple bone breaks

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Should I report the accident to the police?


If the third party was threatening, attempted to hurt you, or refused to provide their details you should report the accident to the police. You should always report a hit and run accident.

Should I speak to the other side’s insurance?


No. Both Minster Law and your insurers will liaise with the third-party insurer directly so there’s no need for you to deal with them directly. If they do contact you after you have instructed us, please refer them to us so that your claim against them isn’t affected by anything you discuss with them in the call.

Should I take pictures of my injuries?


Yes. Where possible, it is important to take photographs of any injuries in the immediate aftermath, and as the healing process takes place. These may not be used in your claim but nevertheless, they are important to us in assessing your claim, and it is more likely than not that your medical expert will want to see these.

How do I contact you?


You should have contact details for the person dealing with your claim in the latest email or letter we sent to you.

Who will be handling my case?


We have one of the largest claimant serious injury departments in the country, with over 120 legal professionals. When allocating your case to a legal expert, we take the following factors into consideration with your interest at the forefront of our decision: likely value of the claim; complexity of legal issues; experience of the file handler. Please view our ‘Our Experts’ page to get to know our team.

Will you visit me at home?


We understand that a serious injury may prevent you from travelling to visit us and we’re happy to come and see you at home, in a hospital or wherever suits. Seeing you in your home environment helps us understand your needs so we’re likely to suggest a home visit if possible. It may not be appropriate to meet you in person, however we can discuss the options with you on a case by case basis. In circumstances that prevent a face-to-face meeting, we would ideally look to arrange a video conference with you.

Do you have a translator?


If you require a translator, please speak with us directly so we can discuss the options available to you. We work with experienced and certified translators to facilitate discussions with our clients whose first language may not be English.

What is a litigation friend?


A litigation friend is someone who acts as the claimant because the injured party is under 18, or is someone who lacks mental capacity. In both circumstances, a litigation friend is appointed to run the claim. This is usually a family member such as a parent.

We’re really struggling for money because of the accident, can you help?


Yes, it’s what we’re here for. Legal proceedings can take time to complete, sometimes years, which is why one of the first things we may do is ask the other party’s insurers to release an interim payment. This is to cover the immediate financial losses and the cost of treatment and rehabilitation. We will want to know your financial position early on for this reason so that we can seek to secure an interim payment for you.

Usually, third party insurers are cooperative, but there may be instances where we must make an application to the court to attempt to obtain such a payment if an insurer is not willing to release an interim payment. An interim payment is not a given, and an insurer may be less willing to part with their money where liability is still under investigation, or if liability is in dispute. Your handler will discuss the prospect of seeking an interim payment with you on a case by case basis. It is important to note that any interim payments made throughout the life of your claim, will be deducted from the gross amount of compensation you receive at the end of the claim.

How often will I be updated?


We will aim to update you at least once a month. You may request an update at any stage, however, given the complexity of our serious injury claims, it is unlikely that there will be any developments sooner than on a monthly basis.

I have signed/spoken to another solicitor by accident. What do I do?


We know that sometimes it can be confusing and you will receive unsolicited calls from other companies. You cannot have more than one legal representative so you will need to decide which firm to choose, although you should not feel pressured in your choice. If you have spoken or signed with another solicitor by accident, and would like us to continue acting for you, we will send you out a Form Of Authority which we will ask you to sign and send back. This means that you are signing to say Minster Law is acting on your behalf.

What if I no longer wish to claim and will there be charges?


There is a 14-day cancellation period from the start of your claim and you can cancel your claim over the phone, by email or letter. You can still cancel your claim at any point following the 14 day period, but you may have incurred fees that you could be liable for. There are further considerations to take into account if you wish to discontinue your claim once court proceedings have been issued.

If your claim is taken to court and proceedings are issued but you wish to cancel your claim, you won’t be able to recover any settlement money and could end up being liable for both the defendant’s costs and our own. For this reason, you need to be sure you’re willing and able to see your claim through to the end before starting it. Please contact us to discuss your situation in further detail should you wish to discontinue your claim.

Why have the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) contacted me?


The DWP has contacted you to determine if the third party insurers have to repay any money paid to yourself under welfare benefits. For many cases, this isn’t applicable but it’s important you fill it in to avoid any delays.

Who is the MIB?


The Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB) is a government organisation set up to compensate victims of accidents caused by uninsured drivers or drivers that can’t be traced (untraced). They essentially step in the place of a commercial insurance company for the purpose of your claim.

What is the difference between untraced and uninsured?


An untraced accident is where there was no possibility of identification or it transpired the vehicle was stolen or cloned, these are often hit and run accidents.

An uninsured accident is where information may be captured at the scene, but it becomes apparent that the other driver was uninsured.

What should I do if I’m hit by an untraced or uninsured driver?


If you are the victim of a hit and run there will be very little you can do at the scene of the accident in terms of gathering information. However, you must inform the police as soon as possible due to the likelihood of the car being stolen or uninsured.

An uninsured driver may be reluctant to give you any details and, even if the driver sticks around, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get any information from them.  What you can do in both circumstances is gather as much information as you can at the scene of the accident:

  • Take images on your mobile phone
  • Record a description of the driver
  • Ask for contact details of any witnesses
  • Take down the make, model, colour, and number plate details of the other car involved if possible
  • Inform the police of the crash and let them know the driver is uninsured or untraced
  • Inform your insurance company of the accident

What happens after an accident with an untraced or uninsured driver?


Minster Law will contact the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB) if you’ve been injured because of being struck by an uninsured or untraced driver. The MIB is a not-for-profit organisation set up by motor insurers to support drivers hit by uninsured or untraced drivers, or UK drivers who are involved in car accidents abroad. The MIB has an uninsured and untraced driver’s agreement which enables people involved in accidents under these circumstances to claim compensation against the liable party. The two agreements are slightly different:

  • The Untraced Drivers’ Agreement enables people who have been injured as a result of being in an accident with an unidentified driver to claim compensation for their injuries.
  • The Uninsured Drivers’ Agreement enables people who have been injured as a result of being in an accident with an uninsured driver to claim compensation for their injuries and uninsured losses.

A police investigation found the third-party not guilty or not to blame for the accident – does this mean I can’t claim?


Not necessarily. The police investigation will determine whether any criminal proceedings should take place. Whilst any decision by the police or the CPS can have a bearing on your civil claim, it is not definitive. We have a highly experienced team who will carry out thorough liability investigations to gather evidence which will determine who blame should rest with.

The third party hasn’t accepted liability


It can be frustrating when the third party don’t accept liability, but there could be several legitimate reasons for this. We are experienced in dealing with cases of this nature and we will thoroughly investigate the circumstances and gather evidence to support your case. The third party may advise pending further investigation or deny full liability and we will need to collate as much evidence as possible to support your claim. It is important you provide us with as much information as possible at the outset of your claim, such as potential witnesses, CCTV, or police reports.

I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt at the time of the accident – can I still claim?


If the accident wasn’t your fault, you’ll still be entitled to compensation. However, the amount you receive may be reduced if it’s found that wearing a seatbelt would have resulted in less severe injuries.

What should I do with CCTV footage/dashcam footage?


If you have CCTV footage you should send this to us as soon as possible. If you do have CCTV, dashcam or other video footage of the accident please send this to us via email if possible. However, if the file is too large please let the team know and we can provide you a secure link to Microsoft Sharepoint where you can upload your footage. You should also ensure to keep a copy yourself.

If you believe a business near the accident may hold some CCTV footage, you should contact them or notify us asap, as within certain timescales this can be destroyed

What are general damages and special damages?


General damages are losses that cannot be assessed initially and in personal injury claims it consists of pain, suffering and loss of amenity. Special damages are financial losses incurred as a direct result of the accident.

What if my injuries have changed?


If you have any new/developed injuries we would recommend going to see your own GP, or treating consultant, for diagnosis. You should also inform us straight away and make a note of any new or developing symptoms, so that we can begin to assess the value of your claim and look at rehabilitation and/or an interim payment.

What is a medical assessment?


A medically qualified expert in the relevant discipline (e.g Orthopaedic; Neurosurgeon; Cardiothoracic Surgeon) will carry out an examination with a view to preparing a medical report which will be used as proof of the injuries which you sustained in this accident.

The report will include a description of your injuries, your past medical history, and how your symptoms have affected your day-to-day life, such as employment, hobbies and home life. It will also include the medical expert’s professional opinion as to how your injuries were caused, any future treatment needed, whether any other medical expert opinion is required, and your expected recovery period.

Do I have to attend a medical assessment?


Yes. All personal injury claims require you to see an independent medical professional. The expert creates a medical report which supports the valuation of your claim, provides you with an expected recovery time and if necessary will provide recommendations for further treatment.

What happens at a medical assessment?


The medical appointment is arranged so that the medical expert instructed on your behalf can assess the nature and extent of your injuries. The expert will interview you and carry out an assessment to prepare a medical report. This report will detail:

  • the information discussed at the appointment.
  • the expert’s view on your injuries, and expected recovery time.
  • to what extent the injuries were caused wholly or partially by the accident.
  • recommend any further medical support that may be beneficial.

It is important you tell the medical expert about all the injuries you sustained as a result of the accident, including injuries that you have recovered from, any new injuries or symptoms that you may have developed, and any pre-existing medical conditions/injuries or previous accidents. Please have photographic ID ready for your appointment e.g. passport, driving license or identity card. This provides the majority of the information the expert needs to complete their report. The expert is not there to provide treatment or prescribe medication; If you require further treatment you should contact your own GP or treating consultant.

Where will my medical assessment take place?


If you are clinically vulnerable to Covid-19 you can request a remote appointment from the medical agency. If you are attending a remote medical you will need a quiet, well-lit area and a laptop, tablet or mobile with a working camera and microphone.

This is of course not ideal in every circumstance, as, depending on the nature of your injury, the expert will probably need to see you in person at some stage. If you are awaiting a face-to-face appointment, then we will aim for a medical appointment to be in the closest town or city to you. Our focus is on identifying and instructing the most suitable expert though, and sometimes it may become necessary for you to travel further afield to receive the best medical assessment. Once the assessment has been arranged, full details will be provided to you and we will always discuss your personal circumstances with you before arranging an appointment.

Please have a photographic ID ready for your appointment (e.g. passport, driving license, or identity card) regardless of the type of appointment.

How do I cancel my medical appointment?


Attending your medical is a crucial step to progressing your claim, so any delays in attending will ultimately delay settlement of your claim. The specialist experts we instruct on your behalf sometimes have long waiting lists so it could be some time before they are able to reschedule an appointment. If you must reschedule, please discuss this with your solicitor first so that they can advise you further. Failure to attend without any advance cancellation notice will result in cancellation or a ‘DNA’ notice (Did Not Attend) fee from the medical expert, which you will be liable to pay.

What if I missed my medical appointment?


If you miss your appointment, please contact the agency directly in the first instance, and also notify us. You may have to pay for missed appointments (sometimes called a ‘DNA’, which stands for Did Not Attend). Please ensure to reschedule well in advance if you know you will not be able to attend an appointment to avoid these charges. We will send you a reminder before your appointment to avoid this scenario.

Do I need to keep a copy of the medical report?


You will always be provided with a copy of your medical report. We would suggest keeping a copy for your own records, but if you don’t and later require a copy, we may be able to send you a further copy by email. It will be beneficial for you to keep a folder for your medical reports as we will need to discuss the evidence with you throughout your claim.

What happens if I have recovered?


It’s great to hear you are feeling better! You can still proceed with a personal injury claim as you should be compensated for the time it has taken you to recover.  So please keep us updated on your recovery and how you felt.

The accident was my fault, can you still represent me?


If the accident was 100% your fault, we would no longer be able to represent you as set out in the Conditional Fee Agreement. Please contact us directly if you believe this may apply to you. However, if you are unsure who is at fault, then you must provide us with your version of events so that we are able to assess the merits of your claim and advise you accordingly.

I have a pre-existing medical condition, do I need to disclose this?


Please tell the medical expert at your independent medical assessment of any pre-existing conditions, illnesses or previous accidents, to avoid any delays to your claim. Please also ensure to inform the team dealing with your claim. Failure to disclose this information to us may not only cause unnecessary delays, but could also have a significant negative impact on you and your claim.

My medical report is wrong or factually incorrect


You should carefully read through your report and note any factual inaccuracies. Serious Injury cases hinge on the medical evidence and, if inaccuracies are not dealt with at an early stage, it may have a significant negative impact on the claim. The third-party insurer will look for inconsistencies in the report once it has been disclosed to them and at that stage, it becomes difficult to change, or explain, the inaccuracies.

If you disagree with your report, we will contact you directly to discuss this in more detail so that we may consider whether the report requires an amendment.

What losses can I claim?


Losses can include costs relating to your vehicle being damaged, hire charges, medication and treatment, loss of earnings, damaged property or belongings, travel, care and assistance and loss of enjoyment. Frequent losses we see include:

  • Prescriptions
  • Gym memberships
  • Vehicle excess
  • Loss of earnings

Bike claimants who may have damaged leathers and helmets should photograph their items and keep them in a safe place.

How do I claim loss of earnings?


A loss refers to something which you have been deprived of as a direct result of the accident. This can be a financial loss, such as loss of earnings.

  • If you are employed, we will need wage slips usually covering 3 months prior to the date of accident, and covering the duration of your absence from work. We will also require a letter from your employer, and in certain circumstances we may require access to your personnel records. For example, if the accident happened in May 2019 and you returned to work in May 2020, we will probably need to request wage slips from March 2019 to May 2020, so that any loss of earnings is properly evidenced.
  • If you are self-employed, we would need the last three years of profit and loss accounts/tax returns (or as many as the business has been active for) and evidence of lost jobs/work as a result of the accident. The key point to remember is that if you wish to claim for any lost income, you must evidence that loss properly. We can talk through this with you.

Should I keep receipts, and what proof do you need of my damaged items?


Yes. Please retain all receipts, a log of any financial losses, and photographs of damaged items, so we can consider these as part of your claim. Please also store the original damaged items. A loss (interchangeably referred to as a consequential loss or losses) refers to something which you have been deprived of as a direct result of the accident. This can be a financial loss, such as loss of earnings, or damaged property, or the loss of an opportunity.

What is GAP insurance?


It is insurance to cover the value your car may lose over time. Most new cars lose value as soon as they leave the garage forecourt. A recent study reported that most cars lose between 50% and 60% of their value in the first three years of ownership.

If you are involved in an accident, many insurers will only pay out the current market value of your car. This can see you left with a shortfall between the compensation you receive for your damaged car and the price you originally paid. This will particularly affect anyone who has taken their car out on finance.

GAP insurance will pay the shortfall between the car’s value at the time you make your claim versus the amount you originally paid for your car.

How do you value my claim?


We value the injury element of your claim based on the medical report(s). The medical report(s) identify the extent of your injuries and how long they are expected to last for. The amount of compensation you’re entitled to depends on many things, including the severity of your injury, how much it has negatively affected your life and the extent of any financial loss you experienced as a result of the accident. We will value any consequential losses according to the amount of that loss, and both elements will form the value band of your claim.

What is a Part 36 offer?


This is the term given to an offer made in accordance with Civil Procedure Rule Part 36 and it consists of its own special rules. The offer can be used by both parties and it may result in costs consequences against the losing party. We will provide more detailed advice in relation to these types of offer at the appropriate stage once an offer has been made.

I have received an offer, should I accept this or reject it?


When we receive an offer, we carefully assess how reasonable the offer is, taking into account all of the evidence in support of your claim, and any evidence the third-party may have obtained to ‘weaken’ your claim. We will provide a detailed view on the offer, which will set out whether it is reasonable to accept, whether it puts you at risk, or if we should make a counter-offer. We may also seek to obtain advice from a barrister at this stage for a second opinion. Whilst we can advise you, ultimately the decision to accept or reject will be yours to make once you have considered our advice.

What is an Infant Approval Hearing?


An approval hearing is a hearing where a judge reviews the evidence of the case and the settlement that has been agreed to ensure it is a fair settlement. Approval hearings are more common when the injured client is a child or a protected party and a litigation friend is required. If you are currently acting as a litigation friend, it is likely that you will have to attend a hearing of this type. Both the child and the litigation friend must attend the hearing. It is important to remember that these hearings are in the best interest of the injured client to ensure that the settlement is suitable. There is unlikely to be many questions directed at yourself or the client and it is more of an opportunity for the judge to review the evidence. At the end, the judge will ask whether the client has fully recovered from their injuries, which may be directed at either the client or the litigation friend. It is important that this question is answered correctly to ensure that the case is suitably settled.

We will need to make an application to the court for any claims settled for a child under the age of 18 so that the court may approve the settlement. Once it has been approved, the third-party insurer will be asked to make a payment into the Court Funds Office.

What are the stages of a trial?


Opening the trial:  This is begun by the claimant’s representative, who explains the essence of the case and gives the judge a general idea of the papers and the evidence that will be brought. It will be explained to the judge which evidence is disputed and which is agreed. The judge will have had an opportunity to read some of the papers beforehand to already have some idea of the issues that must be decided.

Claimant’s evidence: All the witnesses for the claimant will then be called in turn, including any expert witnesses such as doctors or engineers. If there are a lot of witnesses, this stage can take a long time.

Defendant’s case: The defendant will then have the opportunity to call their own witnesses, who may be as numerous as the claimant’s, so this again can be a lengthy process.

Closing speeches: Once all the evidence has been heard, the barristers on each side sum up their arguments and have a final attempt to persuade the judge of their side’s case.

Judgment: The judge may decide the case immediately. In complex cases, the judge may go away and think about the decision and so the parties will assemble in court again at a later date to hear the judgment given. Once the judgment has been given and any damages to be awarded have been calculated, the barristers put forward their arguments as to who should pay the costs of the case and the judge then decides on that issue.

Who is involved in a trial?


A trial is a formal argument before a judge. There is therefore one side who brings a claim (called the claimant) and the other side that defends it (called the defendant).

It is possible to have more than one party on each side and if so, these are numbered. For instance, First Defendant or Second Defendant. This would happen, for example, where there has been a road accident and the claimant is blaming two different drivers. However many parties there are, each party is usually represented by its own separate team.

Representatives: Although your case will have been handled on a day to day basis by Minster Law, at court your case will be presented by a barrister, whom will be a specialist advocate employed for their expertise in legal argument in much the same way as your GP would call in a specialist surgeon if you needed an operation.

The Judge: Judges are appointed by the Lord Chancellor from the ranks of the legal profession so were once either solicitors or barristers. The more senior judges in the High Court are referred to as ‘My Lord’ or “My Lady”.  Other judges are called ‘Your Honour’. Do not worry unduly about what to call the judge, as long as you show respect they will not be offended if you get their title wrong. In addition, we and your barrister will make sure that on the day you know how to address the judge.

Will I have to speak in court?


This depends upon the specific case. If liability for the accident is in dispute, then you would be required to speak and answer questions in court. If the defendant has admitted liability for the accident, then it will depend on the specific case as to whether or not you would need to speak in court. We can advise you further on this point.  If it is an Infant Approval Hearing, then the litigation friend would be required to speak. The judge will ask questions about the child and their recovery. Depending on the age of the child, the judge may ask them questions directly.

What happens when I get to court?


We will brief you before you go to court and your file handler will instruct a barrister to represent you. When you get to court you will go through security scanners, similar to those airports. Please allow extra time to go through security as there will likely be queues. You will be asked to empty your pockets and you will either have to walk through an archway detector or be checked with a handheld scanner.

You will need to inform reception why you are there and the receptionist will direct you to sit outside the courtroom where you will meet with your barrister. The barrister will discuss your claim and the court process further,  and answer any questions you may have.

Most courtrooms are arranged similarly, with the judge on a raised platform and the lawyers below.

There is often a court stenographer there to note down the evidence which is given. The barristers sit facing the judge and there may be room for you to sit behind your barrister. Otherwise, you will have to sit in the general seating area at the back of the court. You may, if you wish, be present during the whole proceedings – we will advise you when you must be there.

As we emerge from the Covid 19 pandemic, some appointments may continue to be arranged remotely. Video and telephone conferencing provide access to a court from a remote location, allowing you to attend your hearing whilst observing our government’s current social distancing guidelines. Access to a screen with a camera and microphone is needed for video conferencing and available methods include, but are not limited to, Skype for business, Zoom, and BT MeetMe. If you are attending via telephone call you will receive instructions on how to dial in.

Giving evidence at court


All witnesses, whether factual witnesses or experts such as engineers or doctors give evidence in the same way. If you are called to give evidence, this is what will happen:

  1. You will be asked to sit in the witness box and take an oath or make an affirmation.
  2. Your representative will then lead you through your evidence by asking several questions, starting with easy ones such as your name and address to help you to tell the court your version of events. In some cases, you may be asked to read out your statement which has been prepared before the trial. Remember, don’t give your opinion unless you have been asked to do so and above all, don’t panic.
  3. Next, the other side’s representative will have a chance to cross-examine you. The idea of this is to test the accuracy of what you have said and how reliable you are as a witness. Cross-examination is rarely hostile – the judge will not allow counsel to be rude or badger witnesses.
  4. However pleasant the barrister who is cross-examining you may seem to be, you need to answer only the question which is asked and you do not need to volunteer any extra information. Be concise and precise.
  5. After that your own representative may wish to re-examine you – that is ask a few more questions to clear up any points which may have been left in doubt after the cross-examination.
  6. If there is more than one party on each side, there may be more than two representatives asking you questions. For instance, if you are the claimant, when you have given your version of events, you may be cross-examined by the First Defendant’s representative and the Second Defendant’s representative. Don’t forget also that the judge may ask you questions themselves at any time.
  7. Remember that it is the judge who needs to hear your answers and so direct your voice towards them and speak slowly and clearly.

This is a very general guide but we hope that you find it helpful. If you are unsure about any aspect of the trial or want to know more about any stage of the proceedings, Minster Law will be happy to answer any queries which you may have.

What does limitation mean?


Limitation is the period of time after which you’re not allowed to make a claim against someone who caused an accident. In personal injury claims, the general rule is that the limitation period expires 3 years from the date of accident therefore, if you want to proceed with your claim you will need to do so within that time. Failure to do so may mean you are unable to claim. For children, and vulnerable clients lacking mental capacity, the 3-year limitation period runs from a child’s 18th birthday, or from the point that mental capacity is regained.

What are bereavement damages and can I claim for funeral expenses?


This is a statutory amount set by the government and is currently £15,120 for accidents after May 01, 2020.  People who can claim this award are the spouse, civil partner, or cohabiting partner for more than 2 years. Funeral expenses are a legitimate claim if a loved one has tragically died as a result of a third party’s negligent actions.

How long will my claim take?


No two cases are the same, so it’s difficult to provide generic timescales. There are multiple factors which dictate the duration of a claim such as:

  • third-party behaviour
  • circumstances of the accident
  • whether there were any witnesses of CCTV footage
  • whether a criminal investigation is taking place at the same time
  • the nature and extent of your injuries
  • availability of counsel, medical experts, and Courts.

Whilst we always strive to progress claims as quickly as possible, we are obliged to act in your best interest which means we cannot act in haste, and we must consider the evidence that is before us. We will always seek to provide regular updates so that you understand the present position of your claim, and ultimately so that you have an approximate idea about when your claim may settle.

You can find out more about what to expect in your claim journey here.

When will I get paid?


There are no set timescales as to when your claim will settle. Much will depend on the third-party insurer’s approach to the claim, their liability decision, and the nature and extent of your injuries. However, we would usually expect the third party to send the money within six weeks of the case being settled. Once we have received and processed the money, we would expect this to appear in your bank (depending on whether you have asked for a cheque or BACS payment) in seven working days.

How will I get my money?


BACS is the preferred method, as it is quicker and more secure than other traditional payment methods. However, if you would prefer payment by cheque then this may also be arranged. We are unable to provide same day transfer/CHAPS/faster payment and we do not provide cash payments. We will request your bank account details and we will keep these updated throughout your claim.

Can I put my money in an account that isn’t mine?


The money has to be paid to a bank account in your name. We have to pay the money to you directly to fulfil our regulatory obligations. If you don’t have a bank account, you will need to set one up. We will hold onto the funds until you have one set up and then we will transfer the money over.

When will my child receive their money?


Payment will be made to your child upon their 18th birthday. Until that point, it will be held on account by order of the court.

However, you can apply in writing asking them to release funds that are for the child’s benefit.

You should keep any documentation about their settlement in a safe place in case you need to access this information to make the above application. You should also ensure that you update the court funds office with any changes of address.