The Personal Injury Claims Process Explained

Jonathan Thursby
Associate Solicitor, Personal Injury Claims

This article outlines the steps involved in making a personal injury claim with compensation in excess of £25,000 rather than a fast-track claim. Please note also that all personal injury cases are different, so the following is only a general guide to the personal injury claims process.

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The Personal Injury Claims Process

Stage 1

Once we have taken your initial instructions, your claim will be passed to a Personal Injury Solicitor who specialises in the type of claim you are pursuing. The first stage in the claims process is for your Personal Injury Solicitor to draft a formal letter of claim. This sets out the details of the accident, the injuries sustained and why your Solicitor thinks the defendant is at fault.

Once the letter of claim is sent, the defendant then has 21 days to acknowledge the letter of claim and then a further three months to investigate the accident. By the end of the three months, we would expect the defendant to have completed their investigations and to have provided their position on liability i.e. whether they admit or deny liability (fault).

Stage 2

If the defendant admits liability, then your Personal Injury Solicitor will obtain your medical records and arrange for you to be examined a suitable medical expert. The expert will review your records, examine you and write a medico-legal report.

The type of medical expert will depend upon your injury, for example, if you have broken bones, then an orthopaedic surgeon would be appropriate, and if you’ve suffered scarring, a plastic surgeon would be appropriate.

The medico-legal report is an important document in your case because it will be used to value your physical or psychological injury. If you have multiple injuries, it may be appropriate for you to be examined by more than one type of expert.

If liability is denied, we will expect the defendant to explain why they deny liability and to provide documents in support of their denial. Documents may include accident reports, risk assessments and maintenance records. Your Personal Injury Solicitor will review the denial and any documents and will then advise you fully as to the merits of the denial. Denying liability doesn’t mean that your Personal Injury Solicitor can’t proceed with a claim for compensation. If your Personal Injury Solicitor is happy that there are reasonable prospects of success, he/she will proceed and obtain medical evidence as referred to above.

Stage 3

Once medical evidence is obtained, your Personal Injury Solicitor will provide you with a copy of the medical expert’s report. Sometimes an expert can provide a final prognosis in the first report, but often, especially where injuries are more serious or symptoms are ongoing, treatment and further reports will be recommended.

Your Personal Injury Solicitor will be able to advise you more fully once the first medical report is obtained. It isn’t unusual in cases involving serious injury for your Solicitor to obtain a number of reports from experts in several different specialisms.

Your Personal Injury Solicitor will also take instructions from you regarding any financial losses that you’ve suffered as a result of the accident. These losses include but are not limited to loss of earnings, travel costs, treatment costs and the cost of care.

Stage 4

Once medical evidence is finalised and your Solicitor has worked out the extent of your financial losses, he/she will then value your claim and advise you on an appropriate compensation settlement offer to make to the defendant. In certain cases your Solicitor may advise you to invite an offer of settlement from the defendant rather than making an offer to them.

If liability is denied or if a negotiated compensation settlement can’t be reached, it may be necessary to start Court proceedings. This, in effect, is asking the Court to decide whether the defendant is liable for your accident and if so, to decide how much your claim is worth. Your Personal Injury Solicitor will guide and advise you further at this stage.

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