Making a claim can raise lots of questions, here are some of the ones we get asked most often.
It is very important that you talk to an experienced specialist law firm like Fletchers. You should consider taking the time to research a solicitor to ensure that they have the relevant experience. Depending on your situation, charities and other similar organisations can provide you with a directory of approved solicitors and a list of questions to ask your solicitor to ensure he/she has sufficient experience / knowledge of your injury or situation.
It is your right, and yours alone, to decide who represents you in a claim for compensation. Using a firm without the necessary specialist expertise can prove a costly mistake. So if you are at all unsure about the quality of legal advice you are receiving from another firm, you are perfectly within your rights to seek a second opinion and switch solicitor if you so choose.
Even if you believe your injuries resulted partly from your own actions you may still be entitled to compensation. If you can show that someone else was at least partially responsible for causing your injuries, you will almost certainly be able to claim.
The people and organisations from whom you may be able to claim compensation (the defendant) could include:
Under certain circumstances there may be no defendant in the normal sense and you may need to seek compensation from another source such as:
We will probably recommend that we pursue your claim under a Conditional Fee Agreement, otherwise known as ‘no-win, no-fee’. This means that you will not have to pay any fees to us if your claim is not successful, although you would still be liable to pay the expenses (disbursements) that we have incurred on your behalf, such as medical reports and court fees. It is usual however to look for insurance to cover against having to pay these expenses. You may already have insurance in place which may be sufficient to cover the costs of making a claim and if so, we will explore whether we can pursue your claim with the benefit of that insurance. If not, we can recommend ‘After the Event’ insurance which can protect you against the risk of having to pay these expenses and any of the defendant’s costs awarded by the court if your claim is unsuccessful or if you fail to beat an offer. We can recommend appropriate policies to you, if appropriate, following an assessment of your requirements. If you would like to know more about these products, our team members will be happy to provide further information specific to the nature of your claim.
Yes – almost certainly a barrister (Counsel) will be involved in your claim. If your claim is particularly complex or valued in excess of £1million then a Q.C. (Leading Counsel) may also be instructed. Barristers, or Counsel as they are sometimes referred to, are specialist advocates who will represent you in court if the case goes to trial. Solicitors spend much of their time preparing the case. This includes investigating the accident circumstances, speaking with witnesses and experts and collecting the evidence both in respect of the accident but also crucially your injuries and how they have impacted on your life. Barristers on the other hand are specialists in court hearings and spend much of their time in court in front of judges and are skilled in arguing your case in court (if required).
Even if your case does not go to court, barristers are often involved at key stages as your case progresses. The reason for this is that from day one it is important to prepare your case as if it were going to trial (even if it ends up settling beforehand). Evidence needs to be gathered and presented in a way that gives you the best prospects of successfully arguing your case in court and a judge awarding the compensation you deserve. At Fletchers we work closely with a team of nationwide barristers, all of whom are leaders in their field and who form a vital part of the legal team.
There is no single answer to this. The length of your claim will be determined by a number of factors such as the complexity of the claim, any unforeseen complications, the severity of your injuries and length of recovery. In some serious injury cases such as spinal or brain injuries, it can often take several years to conclude. Taking these factors into account, your claim could take anything from 6 months to several years (2-5 years) for serious cases, although this can be longer in cases involving children or where complex issues arise.
If liability (blame) is disputed it may be that a liability trial is held to determine who was to blame for the accident (in whole or part). This may result in delays in investigating the value of your claim until such time as a judge has made a ruling on apportionment of blame / fault.
Once the issue of liability / blame has been resolved a vital part of the claim is assessing how much compensation you are entitled to. Valuing the claim involves assessing what impact your injuries have had since the accident and the future. We need to be in a position for the medical experts to advise on prognosis (your future medical situation) as well as the need for further treatment / surgery in the future. Often the medical experts need to wait for the injuries to “settle” and for the customer to undergo treatment / rehabilitation before offering such an opinion. The timescale for concluding your claim is therefore governed by the level and complexity of your injuries and recovery period.
Our job as your solicitor is to assess all past and future damages / losses resulting from your injuries. For example: some customers are able to return to work following their accident whereas others are unable to do so. Detailed calculations sometimes need to be undertaken in order to assess the long-term financial impact of no longer being able to work. Likewise sometimes our customers have complex care needs and these need to be assessed and valued for the rest of their lives before the claim can be concluded. Unfortunately it can take time to build up this picture and gather the necessary evidence although we always strive to conclude cases as soon as possible and without delay so that you can move on with your life. Whilst the case is ongoing we try, insofar as possible, for it to have minimal impact on you day-to-day, giving you the space and time to re-build your life.
Possibly. We always advise customers that they should be prepared to go to court although in reality, the vast majority of cases settle without the need to go to court.
When a case is issued (registered) with the court we and the Defendant representatives (the other side) need to comply with the Civil Procedure Rules. These rules have been put in place to ensure that cases are progressed in a timely fashion and without delay. As your solicitors, we will frequently attend court on your behalf for Case Management Directions which may include deadlines for exchanging medical reports, witness statements etc with the other side. This process means that both the Claimant’s legal team (yours) and the Defendant’s legal team each have sight of all the documents relevant to your case at an early stage. This avoids the situation of having to go to court not knowing what the other side’s case against you is. Consequently, there are various times throughout the progress of your case and as evidence is disclosed that opens the door for settlement discussions.
Sometimes the Defendant’s solicitors will make an offer based on what they think your claim is worth. This may be in the form of a written offer or following a joint settlement meeting where both parties and their legal representatives sit around a table in an attempt to reach agreement on the value of your claim. It is also possible to go to mediation (similar to a joint settlement meeting) but involving a neutral third party (mediator). These avenues for settlement do mean that it is now quite rare for cases to go to a final court hearing (trial) although serious injury cases can often prove to be the more difficult cases to “settle” simply because of the amount of money at stake and the numerous issues involved. In the absence of a decent offer that truly reflects the full extent of your injuries and impact on your life, we would always advise to push ahead to trial to ensure you receive the best possible compensation package.