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Accident Claims Advice FAQs

If you are unsure whether to make a claim or not, contact us for free initial accident claims advice. Accident Assistance are here to help make sure your claim is stress free, to make sure that you receive the compensation you are entitled to and to make sure that you and your family don’t suffer financial hardship for something that wasn’t your fault.

Quick links to our client's frequently asked questions:

How much will I get?

The value of any injury claim depends on the specific facts of your case. Claims are normally settled by mutual agreement with the relevant insurance company but otherwise it falls within the “broad discretion” of the Judge to decide the amount of your compensation. The Judge will usually have regard to previous Court decisions and official Guidelines when deciding your award. We will advise you about the likely value of your claim once all relevant evidence has been obtained, however you can use our compensation calculator to get a broad over view of the awards typically made for different types of injury.

How much will it cost to make a claim?

In normal circumstances unless you have pre-event legal insurance cover, we will be able to act for you under a no win no fee arrangement. If for any reason we cannot act or continue to act for you on a No Win No Fee basis, we will discuss this with you.

Under a No Win No Fee arrangement, you have some obligations including you must:

  • Give honest instructions.
  • Follow our personal advice including about making or accepting reasonable settlement offers.
  • Make all reasonable efforts to attend any appointments that we ask you to attend.
  • Cooperation with us in bringing of your claim to final conclusion.

We may cease acting for you under this No Win No Fee arrangment if at any point we consider that your claim no longer has reasonable prospects of success.

Unless you have alternative suitable legal expenses cover, for your own peace of mind, we will if necessary advise you to take out After-the-Event Insurance to cover the other side’s legal costs if you lose your case or fail to beat any settlement offer they make which we advise you not to accept.

No Win No Fee Arrangements and After-the-Event Insurance are subject to terms conditions and limits of cover. You will be provided with information about this at the relevant time. Legal expenses insurance is subject to the insurers being satisfied on an ongoing basis that you have a better than 50% chance of obtaining damages above the small claims limit and of beating any settlement offers which are made.

Will I have to pay any fees if I cancel my claim with you?

If we have acted for you under a No Win No Fee arrangement and we think your claim no longer has a reasonable chance of success, you will normally be able to withdraw your claim without any charge. If you withdraw your claim for some other reason eg you change your mind and don’t wish us to proceed with it, you might have to pay our fee and any disbursements that we have incurred on your behalf.

If you withdraw your claim because it no longer has a reasonable chance of success, your disbursements (things we pay on your behalf to make your claim) and any costs ordered against you, will normally be covered by the After Event Insurance that we arranged for you. There are some exceptions to this for example if you have mislead us or the After the Event Insurers, acted in a fraudulent or dishonest manner, failed to disclose material facts, or failed to adhere to our advice.

Will I need to attend a medical appointment or can I settle my claim without a medical?

Yes - it’s normally required that you should attend an appointment with an independent medical expert. We will arrange this appointment for you with an experienced doctor in your locality. The medical expert will prepare a report detailing your injuries, how they have effected you, any recommendations for further treatment and he or she will normally give a prognosis indicting for how long the injuries are likely to continue.

Sometimes the third party insurers will make what is called a “pre-med” offer before the medical appointment takes place. This will often be a token amount such as £1,000. It will then be for you to decide whether to accept that offer or press on with a medical report. Some clients decide to accept the pre-med offer because they want to get the case finished quickly, or because they don’t have the time to attend a medical appointment or they are satisfied that they are making a good recovery. However if your injuries are continuing, without a medical report we cannot value your injuries.

If you are contacted directly by the third party insurers making any offer, you should not respond directly and you should refer the insurers to us. It could prejudice your damages claim or the recovery of your legal costs if you settle your claim directly with the third party insurers. Some unscrupulous insurers are known to target accident victims soon after an accident has taken place with the “hard sell” trying to get the Claimant to accept a token offer when the claim could be worth a lot more. Unfortunately this is grey area in terms of regulation because a Claimant is not deemed to be a “customer” or “policyholder" of the insurer and therefore this type of activity is not closely regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

Can I get help with my treatment and recovery?

You should do what you can to speed up your recovery, especially if it’s effecting your ability to work. Your doctor may be able to help with treatment and in serious or protracted cases he may be able to refer you to a specialist clinic or a specialist consultant within the NHS.

However we appreciate there are often waiting lists under the NHS and or appointments times and venues might not be convenient. You are normally entitled to claim the reasonable cost of reasonable private treatment against the third party insurers. In suitable cases we may be able to help arrange this treatment for you via our Treatment Network Provider, the cost of such treatment will be claimed on your behalf from the third party insurers.

Treatments commonly undertaken include physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic treatment or if the accident has left any psychological scarring, counselling.

Finally the third party insurers may offer help with your treatment and rehabilitation in accordance with the Rehabilitation Code.

Why have you asked for an Authority to get hold of my medical records?

This is because the medical expert may need details of your medical history both in terms of any treatment you have received for the injury and to see if there is prior medical history relevant to your injury. For example if you have a previous history of back problems or other accidents, it could help the expert to understand why you have suffered more severe or prolonged injury.

On the other side of the coin even if you haven’t got any relevant previous medical history, it helps the third party insurance company to have confidence in the medical report if they know the medical expert has verified this by checking your medical records.

However the expert in his report will only refer to those medical records which are relevant to your case and you will have the opportunity to check the report before it is disclosed. The expert is of course under duty to keep your medical records confidential and he or she will destroy your records after the claim is completed.

Occasionally the third party insurers may ask permission to see your medical records themselves, however this is only in exceptional or serious cases or where they wish to instruct their own medical expert to examine you. In 95% cases the third party insurers will not seek direct access to your medical records.

Can I make a claim if I have had previous accidents?

Yes but is very important you to tell us and the medical expert about any previous accidents and injuries. You may be asked to provide copies of any medical reports concerning any other compensation claims that you have made and details for the compensation paid to you in these other accidents.

If you have had any previous insurance claims refused or rejected, you need to let us know the reason for this and we may ask to see a copy of the file in question.

The most important thing is to be honest and open and not to conceal anything. A common reason for Claimant’s to trip them selves up, is not to tell the expert about other accident claims. This is usually very foolish because a) the insurers have a database of all accident claims so they will probably know about your accident history anyway, b) it can make the Claimant look dishonest, and c) it means the expert might not be able to give a complete and accurate opinion based on all the facts.

Will I be overloaded with paperwork to complete?

We will do our best to keep this to a minimum, and we are always available at the end of the phone to help you with any queries, just phone!

How long have I got to make a claim?

As a general rule it’s advisable to make your claim promptly once you know that you have been injured. However there are sometimes reasons why people don’t do this. For example the accident might have been their employers fault and they could be reluctant to make a claim whilst still employed by that employer, or they might not realise the significance of their injuries or they might have too much going on in their lives at the time of the accident or be under a lot of stress.

The general rule for an accident that takes place in England & Wales is that the Claimant has 3 years from the date of the injury / accident in which to start legal proceedings, after that date the claim may be time barred. There are some exceptions to this, for example a child has until his or her 21st birthday in which to bring the claim, and the 3 year period may be extended if the Claimant is suffering from serious mental disability. In some cases the Claimant may only become aware that he or she has suffered injury a long time after the harmful event occurred, in which case the 3 year time limit might start form the deemed “date of knowledge” and in some cases the Court may by willing to extend the 3 year limitation period if exceptional circumstances apply. Therefore if you are in doubt, you should always take professional advice as soon as possible in order to ascertain if you can still make a claim.

If your accident took place outside England & Wales OR during the course of international travel eg on a ship or plane, you should seek urgent advice because the period for making a claim is often much shorter and sometimes it can be as short as 1 year.

Have I got a valid claim?

If the accident occurred in England & Wales, you normally have to prove that the accident was at least partly somebody else’s fault and that you have suffered loss or physical and or psychological injury. As a general rule this means showing that the proposed Defendant has been negligent, or has breached a statutory duty and that this caused or contributed to your accident or injury.

In some exceptional cases (such as a defective product) there may be “strict” liability for injury even if the Defendant has taken “reasonable care”. There may also be cases in which the proposed Defendant will be presumed to have been negligent unless he or she can prove the opposite

If you suffered psychological injury but no physical injury, you may have to show that the accident caused you to apprehend the danger of serious injury to ether yourself or a loved one, even if that physical injury might never actually have taken place.

Psychological injury is generally assessed by either a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist according to one of two internationally recognised criteria called ‘DSM’ and ‘ICD’. In cases of minor psychological injury it may not be necessary to get a formal psychological report if the Claimant also some physical injury. However third party insurers are not responsible for compensating pure “upset” or temporary shock falling below the diagnostic threshold of psychological injury.

Will I need to visit your office?

Generally speaking this is not necessary because all business can normally be conducted over the telephone, by email and post. We regularly act for clients the length and breadth of the country and for clients who live outside the UK.

I was injured at work, will my employer hold it against me if I make a claim?

This type of case often requires to be handled with care.

We often hear adverts confidently stating the employer either won’t care “because they have insurance” and “they can’t sack you just for making a claim”.

To some extent the above may be true in the sense that all insurers must carry employers’ liability insurance and it would doubtless be unfair dismissal to terminate the employment of somebody who has 12 months continuos employment with that employer just because that employee brought a compensation claim. However tact and diplomacy may still be appropriate in some circumstances to help avoid any possible ill feeling. This is especially so if the Claimant has been employed with the employer for less than 12 months because in this situation the employee is not protected from unfair dismissal. (There are proposals to increase the 12-month time period for earning protection against unfair dismissal).

That said you should not be embarrassed about bringing a claim against your employer. It was their duty to look after your safety and by making a claim you may be helping to prevent similar accidents in the future.

I don’t know who caused my accident?

Speak to us, you may still be able to make a claim.

We might be able make enquires to find out who was responsible.

Even though we might not be able to pin down exactly who was responsible, it may be that some company or organisation is liable for example if premises have been left in a dangerous condition the occupier may be liable even if you cant see who exactly was responsible for creating the danger. Similarly companies will often be responsible for the negligence of their employees even if you can’t identify the name of the relevant employee to blame for the accident. There may also be circumstances in which a company or organisation has a duty to protect you from a danger caused by something or someone else (for example you would at least expect a hotel to put locks on its bedroom doors to help keep out intruders). These can sometimes be difficult cases but we will be pleased to advise you whether we think you have a case that you are likely to win.

Finally there are a couple of schemes that will compensate injury even if the culprit cannot be identified, namely:

  • The MIB Untraced Driver Scheme – this applies if you cannot identify the driver of a vehicle who causes you an accident eg “hit and run” or a driver giving false details. Special time limits and conditions apply to such cases. If you are involved in road traffic accident and you are uncertain who the other driver was or whether he / she was properly insured it is important that you report the incident to the police at the earliest opportunity and obtain a crime reference number. You should then contact us for further advice as quickly as possible.

    There is a separate MIB Scheme if the at fault driver is identified but just did not have insurance. Essentially in this type of case the MIB will normally step in as an “insurer of last resort” but you should still report the matter to the police if you have reason to think the other driver was not insured or did not give his or her details or may have given false details.
  • Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme - this may help to compensate you if you suffer injury due to criminal violence. You should report any such incident to the police immediately and seek our advice as soon as possible because special time limits apply.

Unfortunately our costs / full costs aren’t paid by the compensating authority under either the MIB Untraced Driver Scheme or Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. If your claim falls under either of these schemes we will discuss with you in more detail how much our charges will be and how and when they will be paid.

Can I make a claim if the accident took place abroad?

You may be able to make a claim through the English Court in some circumstances including:

  • The accident took place during the course of international travel.
  • The accident was caused by some aspect of the package holiday going wrong (if the fault of a supplier providing services connected with the packaged holiday).
  • Your claim is against an insurance company for an accident that occurred within the European Union (except Denmark).
  • A road traffic accident in European Union (except Denmark).

Special time limits may apply to such claims. Speak to us for advice about your claim.

If you cannot make a claim in the English Courts you may be able to make a claim in the country where the accident took place, but you would need to instruct lawyers in the country concerned. You will need to agree the foreign lawyer’s fees and you should check what insurance cover you have for foreign legal costs.

General:

These FAQs are for general guidance only. No reliance should be placed on information contained herein. All liability is excluded. Information given herein is believed to be correct as at 12/04/2012. You should always seek professional advice specific to your case from a lawyer you have instructed for the purpose of giving that advice.

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Our Personal Injury Specialists

Tim Grover

Tim Grover

Tim has years of litigation experience, handling an impressive variety of injury claims including road traffic accident, medical negligence and work accident cases.

Lynne Ayre

Lynne Ayre

Lynne specialises in post medical issues and settlement negotiations. Lynne is on hand to guide our clients through the claims process ensuring they obtain the right amount of compensation.

Nick Parkinson

Nick Parkinson

Nick was one of our first qualified solicitors to join the legal department, having substantial experience in all fields of personal injury and has settled numerous high profile cases.

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