When you have suffered a serious injury that wasn’t your fault your world can be turned upside down. You may be thrown into an environment that isn’t familiar and this can be scary. Our blog post today goes through some of the key stages that we go through with you when bringing about a claim for your injury. This aims to make the process less daunting and illustrates the big picture.
When pursuing a personal injury or clinical negligence case we will firstly look into the funding of the case and advise as to whether a conditional fee agreement (known in the media as a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement) is the best course of action. Sometimes we find that clients have the benefit of legal expenses insurance through their household insurance policy or some other insurance policy. We will run through your funding options but one thing that you can be assured of is that you will not be ‘out of pocket’ in pursuing your claim- our aim is to focus on your rehabilitation where necessary and for you not to be worried about your legal fees.
Obtaining a Statement & Drafting a Letter of Claim
Once we discussed funding we then discuss with our client the details of their accident or incident and injury. We use these details to draft a client statement and a Letter of Claim. The Letter of Claim will confirm how the accident or incident occurred, the injuries sustained, financial losses incurred, who we believe is at fault and why we believe they have breached their duty of care to you, our client. In clinical negligence cases however, we would usually obtain supportive evidence from an independent medical expert before sending the Letter of Claim.
The Defendant will then have 21 days to acknowledge that they have received the letter of claim (or 14 days for a clinical negligence case) and after this point they have 3 months to investigate the accident or incident and the allegations that we have made (or four months for a clinical negligence case).
The Defendant should respond within the 3 or 4 months either admitting they were at fault for the accident or incident or denying they were at fault. In personal injury cases, with a denial of liability the Defendant must disclose to us all documentation they have in their possession pertinent to the case so that we can consider our position and advise our client accordingly.
In the event of a denial of liability we will then look to build on the evidence already obtained in support of the claim.
Medical Expert Evidence
The next stage in any personal injury case whether an admission or a denial of liability has been received, is to obtain expert medical evidence. As mentioned above, some expert medical evidence is likely to have already been obtained if the injury was sustained as a result of negligent actions. The expert medical evidence will entail obtaining our clients’ medical records and then forwarding them to a suitable independent medical expert. The medical expert may then have a consultation with the client. From this appointment, and the medical records, they will then prepare a detailed medical report commenting on the relevant issues, and where reporting on the client’s condition, give a prognosis.
It may be the case that further treatment is recommended. A report from another medical professional such as a care expert or a psychologist may be recommended to assess your condition and needs. Alternatively, a period of waiting to gauge the full recovery of the injury may also be suggested.
Schedule of Special Damages
We then collate the documents and evidence for the schedule of special damages. This document outlines all of the losses that the client has incurred as a result of the accident or incident. This would include loss of earnings, medication expenses and travel expenses to medical appointments. This list is not exhaustive and could include any financial losses that the client has incurred.
The schedule of special damages and medical evidence is then sent to the Defendant and these documents are used to reach a fair settlement for the client. Sometimes cases have to be issued at Court, owing to time limitations, or because the Defendant continues to deny liability, for example. In the vast majority of cases however (over 95%), the case settles before reaching trial.
This article forms part of a series written for the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) ‘Ask the experts’ blog. As a Gold Corporate Partner of the SIA you can rest assured that we are legal experts in spinal cord injuries. We have many connections in the Spinal Injury world and have a great deal of experience and success in gaining appropriate compensation for our clients who have sustained a spinal cord injury. Follow our #spinalinjuryjourney on Twitter.