So, you’ve received an offer to settle your personal injury claim. And yet you haven’t been to any medical examinations.
You have received what’s called a ‘pre-medical offer’.
In many ways, this is good news. After all, it is an offer to settle your claim from the people you are claiming from (we’ll call them the ‘opposing insurers’ to make things easier). No matter the amount that’s been offered, it shows that the opposing insurers have accepted responsibility for your injuries – or that they are willing to deal with your claim on that basis. This is a vital step to the success of any claim.
But before you decide whether to accept the offer or not, it is important to be aware of several things: what a pre-medical offer is, why you’ve received one, and the risks it could pose to your claim.
What is a pre-medical offer?
As the name suggests, it is an offer made before the opposing insurers have seen any medical evidence.
Personal injury claims are valued primarily through medical evidence. This evidence takes the form of one or more reports produced by a suitable medical expert. To make a report, the expert conducts an examination and then details the injuries you have suffered. The report also contains their opinions on those injuries – how long you will take to recover, whether they will cause any long-term problems etc.
You may have seen a medical professional if you attended your GP or hospital after the incident. Even so, these attendances are not the same as the medical examinations described above. GP and hospital visits are concerned with treating your injuries, whereas a medical examination focuses on producing medical evidence to support your injury claim. The records of your attendances do not constitute medical evidence on their own, although they will often form part of a medical expert’s considerations when they write their report.
Pre-medical offers will not take any of this into account. At this stage, usually all the opposing insurers will have is a brief description of your injuries, probably taken from the documents used to start your claim.
All of which means that the offer will have little or no relation to the injuries you have actually suffered.
Why have they made a pre-medical offer?
An important question. After all, how can the opposing insurers value your claim without medical evidence? The answer is that they can’t.
A pre-medical offer is essentially a cost-saving exercise for the opposing insurers.
If they are taking responsibility for someone’s injuries, then they know that, in the vast majority of cases, they are going to have to pay compensation. It is therefore just a question of how much that will be. Naturally, they will be keen to pay the least they possibly can.
The longer a claim continues, the more expensive it is for the opposing insurers. This can be due to several reasons:
- Medical evidence can increase the value of your personal injury claim.
- Other losses can be incurred, supported, and claimed for. For example, lost earnings or long-term treatment expenses.
- Their own administration and legal costs increase
- Your legal costs increase, which they will largely have to pay.
A pre-medical offer can therefore be looked at as a fairly safe gamble for the opposing insurers. They offer a low amount early in the claim, hoping that you will be tempted to settle and ‘get it all over and done with’.
The risk for them is that their pre-medical offer could be more than your claim would be worth anyway, even with medical evidence. But that is a small risk to take. It is also one worth taking, especially when you consider that it could mean a potentially expensive claim ‘nipped in the bud’ for a fraction of its actual value.
What will happen if I accept a pre-medical offer?
Here is where the danger lies with pre-medical offers.
They are offers of settlement. In other words, if you accept the offer, your claim is finished and you will only receive the compensation that is included in the offer.
You will not receive anything else which hasn’t been included, whether it relates to your injuries or other losses caused by the accident, such as loss of earnings or medical treatment expenses.
Also, you cannot re-open a claim once it is settled. This means if your injuries persist for longer than you expected, you cannot go back to claim any more compensation. This is the case even if the amount you accepted is nowhere near the sum which would be justified ordinarily.
Should I accept a pre-medical offer?
To help you answer that question, it is crucial you ask yourself another one: are my injuries still affecting my life?
If they are, then there is a huge risk of settling your claim for less than it is actually worth.
Even if you believe you have recovered from your injuries, accepting a pre-medical offer is risky. With no medical evidence to confirm what your injuries are actually worth, it can be difficult to judge whether a pre-medical offer is reasonable or not. You must also consider whether the offer would be fair in relation to all of the losses the accident has caused you. Given that accepting the pre-medical offer ends your claim, refusing it is often the safer option.
Another thing to think about is: whose best interests are served by accepting? Almost certainly it would be in the interests of the opposing insurers. However, that does not mean acceptance would not be in your own interests too. It should give you pause, nonetheless. When all is said, their aim is to end your claim whilst paying as little as possible.
Your solicitors and pre-medical offers
Truth Legal’s entire ethos is to be open and honest with its clients. Clients should know how they stand in relation to their legal advisers.
If you accept a pre-medical offer, it is very unlikely to be in the interests of the solicitors representing you. In general, the more legal work required on a case, the more fees can be charged. As stated above, avoiding these extra fees is often a reason for the opposing insurers to make pre-medical offers.
However, the key idea to bear in mind is that the interests of your solicitors should never have a bearing on your case. As solicitors, Truth Legal are duty bound to act in your best interests and to follow your instructions wherever possible. It is a duty we take very seriously.
It is ultimately your decision whether to accept or reject an offer. Anything or anyone telling you otherwise should be disregarded.
Your best interests are served by being enabled to make a fully-informed decision. Whilst you may have to sign a form, to confirm you have understood the advice you have received, your wishes must be respected.
Similarly, if you do not have legal representation, do not be intimidated into accepting a pre-medical offer by the opposing insurers. In that situation, it is strongly recommended you instruct a solicitor to protect your interests.
If you would like to discuss anything in this article, please contact us.
From one of the UK’s most read legal blogs.