What Does the Coronavirus Pandemic Mean for My Personal Injury Claim?
If you’re making a personal injury claim and worried if will be affected by the coronavirus crisis, processes are being put in place to ensure it’s not delayed or disrupted.
For example, medical assessments are being carried out over the phone and via Skype, while trials are also being held remotely.
Our Personal Injury Solicitors are here to answer all your questions, so you can be confident about continuing with your claim and have a better idea of what happens next.
What Happens if I Have a Face-to-Face Appointment?
Social distancing means GPs, hospitals and rehabilitation organisations must heavily restrict coming into contact with patients in non-urgent cases. Understandably, this has led to most medical appointments being cancelled or postponed.
We’re seeing many different appointments being cancelled, from routine check-ups to major surgery. The worst case scenario would be that these appointments are delayed for a few months to avoid putting anyone at further risk.
Of course, we understand that these long delays are frustrating. So your Personal Injury Solicitor will consider the possibility of recommending a Desktop report be completed without the need for a physical examination. This may include the option of a telephone call to prepare the Desktop report.
Medical examinations can be carried out via telephone or video conference to determine the extent of your injuries and give a diagnosis and prognosis.
For example, we’re seeing more medical professionals conducting CBT assessments and treatments over the phone. We’ve also seen rehabilitation treatment such as occupational therapy and physiotherapy being carried out over telephone calls/Skype, with a view to carrying out physical reviews at a later date when lockdown is lifted.
This means your case can progress without delay. You may choose to see a medical expert in person, which is your decision, so we’d recommend that instructions be delayed until we can get appointment details for a physical examination.
You can still contact your GP by phone should you need medical attention. If there’s a time constraint restricting your case, such as a Court deadline or approaching limitation date, we’re taking a pragmatic approach with your agreement by recommending electronic examinations so as to not interfere with your treatment.
What Will Happen if I Have a Trial Coming Up?
Many Courts are now holding hearings remotely, which means you won’t physically attend a Trial. Instead, you can take part through video or telephone conferences.
We’d like to stress that as your Solicitors, we’ll be there every step of the way to ensure you understand the process fully and to guide you through it. We know this may seem daunting, but our Solicitors and Lawyers are experienced in attending remote hearings and can answer any questions you may have.
Courts are trying to keep hearings going remotely, but it’s important to note this may not be appropriate for every case, as different Courts have their own procedures.
Face-to-face Court hearings may be disrupted, so if a remote hearing isn’t suitable, then delays should be expected. Our Solicitors are considering this on a case-by-case basis, along with the Court’s guidance published on the gov.uk website.
The parties involved will be able to agree on what to do and we can thoroughly discuss the different possibilities with you.
We should point out that less than 5% of personal injury cases go to Court, so this won’t be a concern most claimants need to consider.
How Could this Affect Settlement of My Claim?
This issue is less relevant for low-value personal injury claims such as road traffic accidents or holiday claims. But higher-value multi-track claims may follow a similar approach to resolve cases remotely rather than in person.
Crucially, technology lets us effectively mimic critical face-to-face negotiations and conferences online. So the settlement of your claim shouldn’t be affected in this respect, if parties are willing to communicate and be flexible.
Simpson Millar have operated a Paperlite system for some time, so we’re very experienced in communicating remotely, and these changes haven’t affected us drastically.
We’re likely to see a moving away from face-to-face negotiations and instructions, provided it’s agreed by the parties.
Defendants, given the circumstances, may be keener to offer early compensation settlement proposals so claims can be settled more quickly than usual.
Our Personal Injury Solicitors can carry out all essential tasks relating to your claim remotely, from taking instructions from you to making payments via BACS and attending joint settlement meetings.
We’re doing everything possible to ensure settling your claim isn’t impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions.
If you have any questions about how the pandemic may affect your personal injury claim, please just get in touch with our team.
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Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Billingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Catterick, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.