On the face of it, the process of seeking compensation for a personal injury might seem straightforward. You first lodge the claim, then you try to come an agreement with the offending party. If you can’t, then you can settle the dispute in a court (or rather, you solicitor can settle it on your behalf).
In practice, however, the process is a little more complex and rigid. Let’s run through it, from beginning to end.
Finding a Solicitor
First, you’ll need to identify a solicitor to act on your behalf. Ideally, they should come with a strong reputation, and be specialised in this particular area of law.
With the help of your solicitor, you’ll be able to determine who is technically responsible for your injury occurring. This means not only identifying the culpable party, but their insurer. If the grounds for action are insufficient to proceed, your solicitor will let you know at this stage.
The so-called ‘pre-action protocol’ is a fairly rigid procedure which all claims must follow. Your solicitor will send a ‘letter of claim’ to the responsible third-party. This will outline exactly what’s happened and why a claim is being made. Once issued, a letter of claim must be acknowledged withing twenty-one days.
The third party, and their solicitors, then have three months to investigate the claim in detail. Following this, they can either accept responsibility for the injury, or deny it.
It might be that your injuries are so extensive that specialist treatment is required. You might also have lost the ability to earn a living. In either case, your solicitor may be able extract interim payments from the third party.
Evidencing a Claim
To evidence a claim, a solicitor will take witness statements from everyone involved, and pore over your medical records. They’ll then bring in experts to report on your condition. These reports will be sent to the third party, whether they’ve accepted blame or not.
Before you arrive at court, you might negotiate a settlement. You can do this whether or not responsibility has been accepted. It’s in the interest of both sides to settle on a figure – which is why a majority of claims end here.
In most cases, compensation arrives in a single lump-sum payment at the end of the process. The money, minus any money you’ve already gotten, will be sent to you via your solicitor.