Being involved in an accident and claiming compensation can be a daunting experience, but your solicitor should be there to guide you all the way. The purpose of this blog is to outline the information that you should be getting from your solicitor during your claim. You should hopefully receive all the information that you need to guide you through the process, however, if you still have questions along the way, your solicitor should be the first port of call and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
If you have never made a personal injury claim before, then it is hard to know what sort of information you should be expecting. Below are some key bits of information that you should expect to receive from your solicitor:
How a claim can be funded
At the outset of a case, all the available options to fund your case should be explained to you and how any legal costs can be covered. CFG Law offers ‘no-win no-fee’ agreements which you might have seen or heard on the TV or radio. This is the most common way someone funds a claim. However, this doesn’t mean that it is the only way to fund your case. You may have pre-existing insurance or be a member of a trade union who may be able to assist with your claim. Your solicitor should advise how each funding option works as well as provide advice as to what is the best method for you. If you do wish to sign up to a no win no fee agreement, then your solicitor should provide you with advice and information about how this works.
Advice on how long it will take
Lots of clients ask, ‘how long will my case take to settle?’ This is very much a case of ‘how long is a piece of string’? In reality, there is no set time as to how long your case may go on for; this will depend on numerous factors including your individual situation, the circumstances of the case and if your case goes to Court. For less complicated injuries, your case could be resolved in a matter of months. However, depending on the severity of the injuries and other complex issues that might arise, then your case could take significantly longer to settle. You should be kept up to date with the progress of your case throughout the whole process. Your solicitor should ensure there are no unnecessary delays towards settlement and that you are aware of what is going to happen.
What will happen during your claim
Every case is entirely different in terms of injury sustained, recovery, treatment, Defendant’s position and medical evidence – just to name a few things! Your solicitor will be able to tell you how your case will be expected to run and the evidence that may be obtained on the way. There are multiple possibilities and paths that each case could take, and your solicitor must be proactive in keeping you updated regarding these possibilities and foreseeing them as much as the evidence allows. You should always be kept fully up to date with what is happening in your case, and relevant advice should be provided at each stage in a clear manner without legal jargon!
Guidance about Social Media
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have gained popularity in the last decade and have played an essential role in personal injury claims. Defendants will often carry out searches into injured people’s social media accounts to try to locate information that may be damaging to their claim.
Your solicitor should explain the importance of social media in personal injury claims and provide you with guidance as to what not to publish online and how to make your settings private.
Prospects of success
Your solicitor must provide you with information about how likely it is your claim will succeed, and whether you will receive compensation. Just because someone has been involved in an accident doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be successful with their claim. This will depend on the available evidence, which your solicitor should be starting to build from the start of your case.
If your claim goes to trial and the Defendant is not accepting that they are responsible for your accident, your solicitor should be able to advise you whether they think you are likely to succeed with the claim.
Do not be afraid to ask your solicitor about this. It may comfort you that they might have been involved in similar cases to yours before and so they should be able to advise you about what will happen and the chances of receiving compensation.
How much will I get? – There is no fixed fee because every case is different. A personal injury claim is made up of a claim for your pain, suffering and loss of amenity, your financial losses as a result and also possibly losses going into the future. Your solicitor will obtain evidence to prove these losses from different experts and sources. Once this evidence has been obtained, then your solicitor will be able to advise you on the possible settlement value of your claim.
Options for treatment and rehabilitation input
Unfortunately, for many people, their injuries do not resolve quickly. In many cases, injuries can continue for many months, years or in the worst case, for life. What many people do not realise is that claiming compensation can help you to access the treatment and rehabilitation you need to help with your recovery.
Your solicitor should be able to provide guidance and can signpost you to relevant medical professionals to help with your recovery. They should be able to access these professionals and arrange appointments for you. This might include getting access to a local private physiotherapist, psychologist or another healthcare professional, or they may even be able to direct you to get a referral through your GP so that the right services can be accessed on the NHS.
The cost of treatment is usually covered by the amount you will receive in your compensation claim.
Guidance on going to Court
The idea of going to Court to many clients sounds very daunting, but rest assured that less than 1% of cases go to Court. That being said, this does not mean that your case won’t fall into that 1%. Your solicitor should be able to guide you down the most appropriate avenue depending on the evidence obtained in your case and prepare your case for all possibilities. In some circumstances, there are alternatives to Court that could be explored.
Receiving interim payments
Many people think that when you claim compensation, you receive this as a lump sum at the end of your case. However, you do not always have to wait until your case concludes before you can access your compensation. If your injuries have prevented you from returning to work and you are struggling financially or wish to be able to fund necessary treatment, then your solicitor should discuss with you options for interim payments. They will approach the insurers to open discussion surrounding interim payments. They will be able to guide you on the prospects of success in obtaining an interim payment, and they will be able to make the necessary applications and requests if this is needed.
Advice concerning benefits
After an accident, you may find yourself claiming benefits which provide financial assistance whilst you are out of work, whether this is for a specific period or lifelong. Your solicitor should discuss with you any benefits you are receiving and advise you about whether you will need to set up a personal injury trust account to protect your eligibility for receiving benefits. This is done so that any compensation settlement is not considered by the government when looking at your current or future entitlement to those means-tested benefits.
Who to contact if you have a question or want an update
Always obtain your solicitor’s direct telephone number and email address. They should also be able to provide you with the details of someone else in their team who may be able to assist in their absence. You should be advised of their working hours and every time they go on annual leave for an extended period. Always remember, there is no such thing as a silly question – you should contact your solicitor with any questions you may have.
These are just some of the things that your solicitor should provide to you at the start, end or lifetime of your case. Should you feel as though the above information has not been provided to you, then you should feel encouraged to speak to your solicitor and ask them about any of these things.