Road Traffic Accidents (If Valued At Less Than £10,000)
In April 2010 some rules were introduced to streamline the claims process for personal injury claims arising out of road traffic accidents where the value of the claim is likely to be less than £10,000.
Solicitors now have to submit new claims via an online portal system and all correspondence with the other side is electronic unless the claim “drops out” of the portal due to an insurer’s non-compliance with the protocol or denial of liability.
Once we have taken the full details of your claim, we can send these to the other side who then have 15 business days in which to acknowledge your claim and provide their decision on liability (whether or not they accept that their insured was to blame for the accident). We are able to organise immediate private physiotherapy treatment for you at this stage through companies such as our preferred North West provider, MC Physio. You will not have to pay for the cost of this treatment as it will be claimed back from the other side as part of your claim, on top of what you will receive for your injuries.
If liability is denied or the other side fails to respond then your claim will leave the portal and we will follow the traditional process as explained below. However, if liability is admitted, your claim can proceed to the next stage.
It will then be necessary for us to obtain a medical report which will be used to value your claim for injuries. You will be required to attend a short medical appointment which we will arrange with an appropriate medical expert close to either your home or work or wherever is most convenient for you.
Once the report is received, we will then value your claim. A letter will then be sent to you explaining the content of the medical report, the value we have placed on your claim and our advice on the appropriate offers we should make to settle your claim.
Of course, you may wish to wait until the medical expert’s prognosis period has passed until you think about settlement to make sure that you do make a full recovery within the time frame suggested by the expert. This is not a problem and you will not be rushed into settling your claim when you are not ready to do so.
Once you are ready to settle your claim, an offer is made to the other side and they have 15 business days to either accept the offer or make a counter proposal. If they make a counter proposal, then a further 20 business days is allowed for negotiations to take place, which will more than likely lead to settlement. If an agreement cannot be reached, we can ask the court to decide the settlement amount. This will involve us filing details of your claim and injuries with the court. A Judge will then look at the evidence and decide the value of the claim. This is known as a paper hearing and you will not be required to attend.
Other personal injury claims
The process for other personal injury claims such as road traffic accident claims worth more than £10,000, accidents at work, trips and slips and stress claims is similar to the process described above, although it is not done via an online portal system and there are longer time limits involved due to cases being more complex.
Once a Letter of Claim is sent to the other side (a letter setting out the details of your claim and why we think that they are at fault), they have 21 days in which to acknowledge receipt of the claim (there are some exceptions to this for cases where the accident occurred overseas*.) After this, they have a period of 3 months in which to investigate your claim and provide their decision on liability.
The process for obtaining medical evidence is the same and when an offer is made, the other side should respond within 21 days.
If we do not receive a response to an offer or if your road traffic accident claim has fallen out of the process described above due to liability being denied, we are able to issue court proceedings in order to progress the matter. Your claim will then follow a court timetable and we will have to complete several procedural steps before your case would be ready to go to a trial. At trial, a judge will make a decision as to whatever aspect of your claim remains in dispute (liability or value or both).
Whilst we may have to take court action in order to progress your claim, it is extremely unlikely that your case will proceed to a full hearing as the majority of cases settle well before a hearing is arranged.
*It is worth noting that for accidents abroad, the time limits at the start of the claim are doubled. Therefore, when the details of your claim are sent to the tour operator, they have 42 days in which to acknowledge receipt and then 6 months in which to provide their decision ion liability.