The first step is for a member of our personal injury team to meet you either at our offices in Kingston Crescent Portsmouth or in one of our outlying offices in Waterlooville, Petersfield, Wickham, Portchester or Gosport, in order that we can record the facts of the accident etc and give you initial advice as to whether you have a claim.
If your injuries prevent you from visiting our offices then we will arrange to see you at home arrangement with us. We will discuss fully with you the various methods of funding our work on your claim.
Subject to your instructions to proceed, we will identify the Defendants and the Insurers and then submit a detailed letter of claim to them. Cases up to £25,000 are now dealt with through a Ministry of Justice Portal that is we communicate with the Defendants Insurers via a Website created specifically for this purpose.
However regardless as to whether we deal with the Defendant/Insurers via the MOJ Portal or by a formal letter of claim, the Court Rules lay down a timetable within which the Defendant/Insurers are required to respond either by admitting liability for the accident or denying liability.
If liability is admitted we will then arrange for you to be seen by a medical expert, for example a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon if you have sustained aback or neck injury or fracture or strain. The medical expert’s task it is to examine you and prepare a detailed written report, describing the injuries that you have sustained, the treatment that you have received to date,giving the present position and, most importantly, setting out an opinion and prognosis for the future.
This may be a final report on the basis of which we can settle your claim. If this is the case then we will also prepare a detailed Schedule of Loss, to include any claims for loss of earnings, vuluntary care and assistance from family and friends, medical, travel and any other out of pocket expenses.
We will then send the medical report and Schedule of Loss to the Defendants/Insurers and negotiate a settlement of your claim. This usually involves the Insurers making you an offer and it is our job to advise you as to whether it is an appropriate amount of compensation in your case or whether a counter offer should be made. Whatever happens we will not accept an offer or make a counter offer without your specific instructions to do so.
Generally speaking, your claim will comprise of both claims for general damages, that is compensation for the injury/injuries you have suffered including the resulting pain, suffering and loss of amenity, as well as for special damages, which will include claims for monetary losses such as loss of earnings, voluntary care and assistance, medical, travel and out of pocket expenses.
Sometimes the case cannot be settled on the basis of one medical report alone. Symptoms may be continuing and further medical treatment or even surgery required. In such cases, clearly it would be prudent to delay the settlement of the case until the treatment/surgery has been performed and the medical expert(s) is able to provide a firm prognosis for the future. If this happens, we will obtain an interim payment for you so that you can have the treatment/surgery performed privately at your convenience and which will also include any loss of earnings resulting therefrom.
If the Defendant/Insurers deny liability for your accident, the Court Rules require them to state exactly why liability is denied and to send us copies of all relevant documents in the Defendants possession, for example accident book entries, reports into the circumstances of the accident, health and safety guidelines, risk assessments, documents recording how and when premises and/or equipment was last inspected etc. We will then consider the denial of liability in light of all of the evidence and advise you as to whether there is a defence to your claim or indeed whether despite the denial of liability, the evidence produced nevertheless indicates that you have a good (that is a better than 51%) chance of succeeding with the claim.
We may be able to persuade the Defendant/Insurers to revise their decision and accept liability. If not, we will advise you and take appropriate steps in order to issue and pursue proceedings in Court.
You should remember that even where proceedings are issued, less than 1% end up in a final hearing or trial. That is, over 99% of issued cases will settle before trial.