From my many years representing injured people, I have compiled this list of typical errors which are often made by personal injury clients. I very much hope that they don’t apply to you!
I am so very privileged to work as a personal injury solicitor. Helping people to recover from a serious accident is one of the highest callings in law. We really make a difference.
I offer this advice because I want to educate and inform you, even if you do not instruct my firm. Do drop me a line if you have found this advice of use.
- Fail to keep evidence
Once you’ve had an accident, please, please, please compile all the evidence about the circumstances of the accident and its impact upon you and your finances. Treat the accident scene as if it were a crime scene. Use your smart phone to record the accident location, as well as recording your injuries and taking photos of your financial losses (specifically receipts). Record all the names of the witnesses. If you choose to bring an accident claim, then you will have all the key information at your fingertips. Data dump all your information on your personal injury solicitor – they will love you for it! Really. Click here for an example of a Schedule of Loss.
Very, very few personal injury claims go to trial; when they do, which I estimate is around 2% of claims, then the hearing is before a judge, probably in your local County Court. There will not be a jury. County Courts – which hear the majority of personal injury claims – are less formal than a criminal courts, which you might have seen on TV. When I have had trials, my clients have generally found the process to be ok. Anyway, if all you are saying is the truth, there really isn’t anything to worry about, is there?
- Think that all personal injury “lawyers” are the same
Within any sector of work there are the talented and experienced, and the not so talented and inexperienced. Just because someone works for a firm of solicitors, it doesn’t mean that they are a solicitor. And just because your insurance company may have recommended a particular firm, is the firm any good and have you met your solicitor? This is your important case: you have a choice as to who represents you. Of course, I suggest that you use a qualified and experienced personal injury solicitor (or Legal Executive), rather than a paralegal. If I was about to have a kidney removed, I would want someone who has had years of training and experience, not someone fresh out of medical school. The same logic applies to your injury claim. I dare you to ask your representative, go on: how many claims they are running at the same time as yours. Go on, ask. If you don’t like the answer, consider switching solicitors.
- Settle too early
My very firm recommendation is that you should only settle your claim when you have made a full physical and psychological recovery. Naturally, some serious injuries are permanent, but if this is the case, do ensure that the medical evidence is complete before settling. Once settled with the cheque on the way, you cannot go back for more compensation (unless you have a provisional settlement, or in some criminal injuries claims). Often, what appears to be only a minor injury, lasts much longer than anyone – including the medical expert – predicted. In some cases, the injury becomes a pain condition. If this occurs, due to the major impact upon the Claimant, the value of the claim increases significantly. If, during your claim, you find that you are skint, ask your solicitor to request an interim payment, so that hopefully you can get some compensation before the end of the case.
Please remember that when you go to be examined by the medical expert, do ensure that – even if the expert doesn’t ask you – that you volunteer all the details about the injury and how it has impacted upon your life. Do not be afraid of the medical expert. If you don’t tell the medical expert about your full symptoms, then do not be surprised when the medical expert doesn’t mention the injuries in the medical report. And – as should have been explained to you – the value of your claim is dependent upon what the medical experts state in their reports. Do not exaggerate but do not forget to volunteer all the information.
If you want to discuss any element of your existing accident claim with any of our brilliant personal injury solicitors, please just pick up the phone, or drop us an email. The consultation is free and is no-obligation. We just want to help. That’s why we do what we do.