Nobody Wants to Go to Court
by Arina Smith Human Resources 22 February 2019
Which is why there is something called the Compulsory Protocol. It’s designed to force you and the insurance companies to focus on settling — so only those cases which can’t be settled go to court. It’s why we do all this investigation and correspondence.
A specialist personal injury lawyer will prepare a schedule of damages with supporting documentation, which will set the negotiation agenda with the insurers.
The insurers will then raise questions about the accident circumstances and try to argue there should be a deduction for any part you played in the accident. They’ll generally try to argue down your valuation.
The insurers want to reach an agreement at this stage, and they know you want to do so as well. They always want some kind of discount on the true value of your claim. Where injuries are modest, you and your lawyer can usually reach an acceptable compromise.
Once you’ve reached an agreement, you’ll be asked to sign a document discharging your legal rights to take any more action on this accident. You should expect to receive a cheque within four to eight weeks.
How Long Should This Take?
Every case is different, so it’s difficult to say. As far as getting started, though, you must do so within three years of your accident. If you wait any longer, the courts will treat your claim as “time-barred” and you’ll be unable to proceed.
Please don’t take this as permission to wait until the last minute before finding a lawyer. Many good firms won’t take your case on if it is close to three years after your accident — and, most importantly, the evidence trail can go cold fast if you don’t take immediate steps to recover and preserve it.
Once you’re started, though, your case should be settled within a year or so — if there are no complications like delayed recovery, medical difficulties, or the insurance company denies the claim.
The legal world can be pretty impenetrable to normal people — so we hope this article has shown you what to expect from your claims process:
• Think very carefully before accepting the lawyer put forward by your insurance company — they’ll most likely have paid a referral fee, and any recommendation is not a badge of quality
• If you fill in an online claim form on a legal firm’s website, walk away if you don’t get a call back from a real person
• Make sure your lawyer starts collecting evidence immediately — especially photographs
• Make sure the agent and client care letter explains everything you need to know — and don’t sign anything until you’re happy with their preparation so far
• Make sure the letter of claim is scrupulously accurate — or it could come back to bite you later
• Sign the release for your medical records so the examining doctor can prepare his report
• If you’re self-employed, get your accountant standing ready to calculate your loss of earnings
• Don’t wait until the last minute — find a lawyer fast, so the evidence doesn’t go cold
What if the insurers deny your claim? Or tell you they don’t believe you? That can be a very worrying time — and it’s at this point you’ll be glad you’ve chosen a good lawyer.
Remember: a good specialist personal injury lawyer will take on all this responsibility for you and work their damnedest to get you what you deserve. Your insurance company is not there to serve your interests in this matter — they are looking to rake in referral fees.
You do not have to accept the lawyer your insurance company suggests — and it’s unlikely to be in your best interests to do so. Instead, find your own specialist personal injury lawyer.