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I've made a claim - what's the process?
Fortunately most people only ever make a claim once so they don’t know what to expect from the process. To help you out, here’s a guide to what to expect as the claim progresses.
The below information provides a brief outline of a motorcycle accident claim involving serious injuries. Less serious injury claims are usually much more straightforward and usually settle within 6 to 12 months.
Day 1 – Contact with us following a motorcycle accident (by you or a relative).
Day 1 or 2 – We write to you with client care pack.
A meeting / further contact will be arranged as soon as possible to discuss the claim, funding issues, motorcycle accident circumstances and difficulties being faced that require urgent attention.
We will send a letter of claim to the potential defendant. Investigations will commence with the police and any witnesses to your accident.
The proposed defendant / insurer should send an acknowledgement of the letter of claim within 21 days of receiving it, confirming that the accident circumstances and liability are being investigated.
Within 3 months of receiving the acknowledgment to the letter of claim we should receive a decision as to liability, that is, whether or not your opponent accepts that the motorcycle accident was their fault.
They may acknowledge that they were primarily responsible or liable for your bike accident but that they allege that you were partly to blame, which is known as contributory negligence.
In practice liability decisions are often delayed until, for example, following an inquest or until a police collision investigator’s report is ready. Such a report will not be available until the conclusion of any criminal proceedings if there are any.
Medical evidence and rehabilitation
We will obtain medical records and then independent medical reports from leading independent medical experts specialising in fields relevant to the injuries sustained.
Repeat examinations and reports may well be required as it is often the case that when you first see the medical expert he or she is unable to provide a reliable prognosis as to your recovery.
Often we will be able to agree with your opponent that in order to improve the speed and extent of your recovery, a case manager from a rehabilitation provider be appointed to oversee your rehabilitation.
Your opponent will normally agree to cover the costs of such rehabilitation as it is in their interests to do so (the greater the speed and extent of recovery, the less money they will end up paying). This rehabilitation is provided outside of any litigation that may be ongoing.
Valuing your claim
When we have finalised our medical evidence we will be in a position to value your injuries.
It is important to remember that the principle of a claim is to put you in the same position as you would have been but for the accident. Obviously this may not be possible in cases of serious injury and as such financial compensation for injuries is awarded, increasing dependent upon the severity of the injuries.
Financial losses and settlement
When the claim is capable of settlement from a medical point of view we will prepare a detailed schedule of your financial losses (past and future) incurred as a result of the accident. Once we have the medical evidence and detailed financial losses we advise you as to a suitable offer to make to your opponent in settlement of the claim.
We may need to take one or more witness statements in relation to your claim. We may also need to instruct non-medical experts such as nursing, care, occupational therapist, speech, physiotherapist, accommodation
Once we have fully documented your claim we will serve our evidence on the defendant and enter settlement negotiations. This negotiation process can include round table meetings with your opponent’s representatives or mediation and you may be asked to attend to give instructions upon any offers received.
Please also note that you may also be required to attend one or more conferences with counsel (a barrister which we will instruct on your behalf and who would have conduct of the court hearing were a trial to become necessary) throughout the claim.
We will advise you on the best approach in negotiations and settlement can usually be reached.
If no settlement is reached in terms of liability or quantum (the value of the claim) we may advise that court proceedings should be commenced. This means that the claim will be passed to the court which will take over the management of the claim. It will set out directions for the exchange of evidence, witness evidence and other relevant documents before eventually timetabling a trial.
If a settlement is not reached then a trial should take place within 9-12 months or so of the court proceedings having been served on your opponent although delays can occur and a trial may not take place for longer.
There may be cases where issues of capacity are relevant (claimant unable to provide his/her own instructions due to, for example, brain injury or where the claimant is a child). As such it may be necessary to involve the Court of Protection and a representative would be appointed to act on behalf of the claimant.
In order for us to recommend settlement of your claim we must be reasonably certain as to your prognosis (time taken to recover and the degree of expected recovery). This prevents under-settling of claims so it is in your best interest. We rely on the opinion of medical experts as to whether your prognosis is reasonably certain and therefore whether or not it is safe to settle your claim.
Each case is different and may take a shorter or longer time to settle. We will settle the claim as early as we can reasonably do so.