Each year, over three million people are injured in accidents.
The majority are victims of car crashes, slips or trips in the workplace or outside and many of these cases go unpunished.
In many of these accidents, someone is to blame. Be it the other driver, the council for failing to keep roads or paths in good order or your employer for below par conditions in the workplace.
Although a personal injury claim can be very complicated, on the most part they are fairly simple.
Victims of whiplash, basic accidents and small or minor injuries are typically given the compensation they deserve within a few months.
It’s only the more complicated cases where vast amounts of evidence, doctor’s notes, psychiatric assessments and police reports are required that can take longer. Often this can roll in to years, not weeks or months.
You can usually categorize these in to serious injuries, involving brain, spinal or psychological damage.
Fortunately, with the help of a specialist accident claims lawyers, these can be made much simpler for you and me.
Most injury lawyers will offer a free consultation, so there really isn’t much to lose if you want to consider finding some help.
How can a solicitor help you?
Many people don’t pursue a personal injury claim for several reasons.
Some believe they will be fired for pursuing their employer for compensation. In most cases you’ll be claiming against their insurance, they won’t be involved in any other way than providing evidence if required.
Others are worried that they won’t understand the process. This is what a solicitor is for, 99% of lawyers offer a no win no fee product on these cases. So unless your case is successful it won’t cost you a penny.
Solicitors with a no win no fee service will also have some case acceptance criteria, usually over 50%. This means that they will only take on your case if they believe they will win.
Obviously this takes much of the pain away from you.
How the claims process works?
The first steps when using a solicitor for a personal injury claim is to send a claim letter to the defendant (the person responsible for your injury).
This sets out the details of what happened and gives the defendant notice of the claim.
The next step, if required, is to get a professional opinion from a specialist. Your solicitor will advise whether this is needed, usually it’s a simple appointment with a doctor other specialist to diagnose your injuries.
Usually the defendant has to reply within 3 months to the letter, in most cases this is a much shorter period.
In the reply, the defendant will need to accept or reject liability for your injury.
In most situations, if they accept liability your solicitor will try to settle the matter out of court. This is usually the quickest and most cost effective method.
A settlement offer
During the process your solicitor will tell you how much they think your claim is worth. This takes in to account the injury you have suffered, impact on life and loss of earnings. They may also ask you to consider how much you would be prepared to accept in an ‘offer to settle’.
Sometimes, with this information your solicitor will present this to the defendant in an attempt to settle out of court. If they accept or reply by means of a negotiation an acceptable amount, your solicitor will advise on whether to end the matter instantly.
How do court settlements work?
If an out of court settlement cannot be reached or the amount offered is below that of the amount your solicitor believes is fair, they’ll advise you to start legal proceedings.
When and if the defendant believes they are not liable for your injuries, your solicitor will advise the court and ask them to award compensation.
How to get started with a claim
As we discussed earlier, some cases can be very complex but the majority are fairly basic and only require some minor details to start looking in to your case.
Your solicitor will need to know:
- The date the accident happened and where.
- Details of any witnesses and how to get in touch.
- All the treatment details and injuries suffered with medical diagnosis.
- Details of legal information, for example whether you’re a part of a union or have existing insurance policies that may entitle you to free or low cost representation.
Depending on how complex the case is your solicitor may also need to see:
- Proof of any loss of earning with other financial expenses that are due to the injury you suffered.
- Any and all documents relating to insurance products.
- Any evidence to support your claim, document of the accident or similar accidents for example.
How your solicitor will be able to help?
Once the details of you case have been finalized your solicitor will be able to help you in a number of ways.
The first and important details you’ll want to discuss are your chances of winning and hoe much compensation you will receive if you do.
Obviously the latter can change throughout the course of the case but they will be experienced enough to give you a good guide on what might be on the table.
They’ll also be on hand to explain all the legal processes and take you through the ifs and buts if you have any questions.
Usually they will send you a lettering summarizing the advice you’ve had and what it means to you.
This letter normally details that the solicitor is happy to take your case on as well as:
- The name of the solicitor who will be representing you and their status within the firm.
- Details on how long the process may take and any further arrangements needed, for example to gathering evidence.
- How the case is being funded and an estimate of the costs based on those details.
- The details of when you will need to pay the solicitors costs and how.
- Any and all additional information you need to provide to make the process as simple as possible.
- What to do at any point if you’re not happy with the progress.
If you need to go to court
If you decide or if you’re solicitor advises you to go to court, either because:
- You haven’t received an offer to settle.
- The offer was less than expected.
Then you’ll need to make separate preparations around the date of the hearing.
Going to court can be a daunting prospect, but remember that your solicitor will have prepared everything and it’s just a case of waiting to hear about the judgment and if you will award compensation for your injury.
Your solicitor will have all the information you need to know about what to expect, so if you have any questions at all they will be on hand to answer and to talk you through the process if you’re nervous at all.
How much will it cost me?
Charges vary massively between solicitors based on the complexity of your case, how it’s being funded and the status of the solicitor. You can compare several solicitors to find some that are suited to you.
If you’re working with a no win no fee solicitor, typically the only charges will be at the end, unless they’re taking their costs from the other side.
But, do remember that not all solicitors put all the costs at the end, also there can be several costs that need paying before the case has started. Especially if the case is more complicated.
Some costs may need to be paid by you during the process, for example fees for gathering evidence.
Remember that if your solicitor is of the no win no fee variety and their costs are awarded upon success from the defendant, you’ll still be liable for the ‘success fee’.
What happens if I lose?
Losing a case can be a big reason behind many not starting a claim in the first place.
But there are several options available to cover your costs if this happens. Your solicitor will take you through all the options.
You may be liable to pay some fees for your and the other parties.
Questions you should ask
If you were to lose your solicitor will take you through the options, but there are some basics that you should cover off early on, for example:
- How much does a case like this normally cost and how are these worked out?
- Will you be charging by the hour or can there be a no win no fee agreement?
- What happens if I lose? What will I owe you and the other side?
- Do I need insurance of any kind?
- Are there any other options for funding the case?
How to find the right solicitor?
The best way to find a local solicitor is to search on Google for “personal injury lawyer +Town” – that will give you a selection of options nearby.