Making a Personal Injury Claim
Every year there are an estimated 3 million people injured in accidents at work, home or just going about their day-to-day business. In many instances the accident is the result of negligence or unsafe working practices of another person or organisation, entitling the victim to compensation. For those unfortunate enough to come to grief through no fault of their own it is important to seek legal advice as to whether they should seek compensation.
Finding a Solicitor
The first step is to find a solicitor, there are many that advertise â€˜no win, no feeâ€™ services but it is worth shopping around. Fees will vary, as will the expertise and experience of various legal practices. It may be that an individual already has a solicitor, in which case they should be the first point of contact.
What The Solicitor Needs To Know And How They Can Assist
Most solicitors offer a free initial consultation, during which the claim will be assessed and the claimant will be told as to whether the case is likely to have a positive outcome. Before they can make a judgement however they will need certain information. Most importantly the date and circumstances of the accident, were there any witnesses? If so who were they and how can they be contacted? If the victim has any legal expenses insurance (sometimes included in home or motor policies) or is a member of a trade union this should be mentioned, as it will have a bearing on costs. Often trade union members are able to have their legal costs paid for or greatly reduced. Any loss of earnings or other financial losses as a result of the accident should also be discussed. For the case to succeed medical evidence will be essential to back up the claim. Using the information provided the solicitor can work out costs and the likely payout of any compensation awarded in the event of a successful claim. All of this will be provided in writing as well of details of the legal processes and timescale of events should their legal representation be accepted by the claimant.
Making The Claim
The defendant (those responsible for the accident) will be contacted by the victims solicitor to inform them of the claim, should the guilty party accept liability then agreement will try to be reached out of court. Usually the defendant will make an offer of compensation known as apart 36 offer. If the sum is reasonable then the claimant will be advised by their solicitor to accept the amount and that will be the end of it. However should the offer be deemed to be inadequate then the victims legal representation may make their own part 36 offer as to how much they will accept. Should no agreement be reached then the case will go to court where a judge will decide on what is a fair level of compensation. In instances where the defendant does not accept any liability then the matter will go straight to court. This is a more complicated scenario, as it is then up to the claimant to prove their accident was the fault of another party. It is a more lengthy and difficult process and will be reflected in legal costs. There is of course the risk that the judge may rule in favour of the defendant leaving the claimant with a potentially large legal bill.
When deciding to pursue legal action a person should be aware that there is no guarantee of a successful outcome to their claim. In such an instance a costly legal bill could result. It is important to find out from the very beginning what any costs are likely to be. As previously stated, solicitor bills will vary depending on a number of factors such as their degree of expertise and complexity of the case. Also the claimant may be required to paydisbursement as the case progresses. A disbursement is a cost for things such as medical evidence that will be required during the claim. Other legal practices may present a bill at the end; however payment is structured it's important to know how much it is going to cost and plan for how any fees will be covered, the solicitor will assist. Many offer a no win, no fee service, however they will only do so if they think it is a clear-cut case. Also since there is an element of risk on their part they will still charge a fee in the result of a positive outcome that will be deducted from any payout awarded. English law dictates that the losing party is liable for not only their own legal fees but also the victors. For a claimant having the knowledge that they personally won't have to part with any money makes a no win, no fees option a safer proposition.