Personal Injury Claims Procedure
The term personal injury litigation is widely used to describe claims for compensation for injuries which a client has suffered. The aim of the claimant’s personal injury solicitor is to establish that the Defendant is responsible for the client’s injuries and to obtain the appropriate amount of compensation for those injuries. Our solicitors will attempt to obtain the compensation as quickly as possible although you should be warned that the process can and will take time.
In 1999, the Civil Procedure Rules were implemented following proposals made in Lord Woolf’s 1996 report “Access to Justice”. Lord Woolf at the time was the Lord Chief Justice of England & Wales who is second only to the Lord Chancellor in the English legal hierarchy. His report was highly critical of the previous rules which had governed the conduct of civil litigation. He considered that the system was too slow, too costly, too uncertain, incomprehensible and created inequality between parties.
Consequently, Lord Woolf proposed a radical overhaul of the system in order to eliminate these problems. In particular, he considered that the Court should be given greater control over the conduct of the litigation to save time, cost and to ensure that the system was responsive, comprehensible and fair to all litigants.
In his final report on ‘Access to Justice’ Lord Woolf placed emphasis on the development of what he termed ‘pre-action protocols’. He wanted to increase the benefits of early but well informed settlement. The plan being to encourage pre-action exchange of information and dialogue between the parties at an early stage in an attempt to reduce the need for recourse to litigation, or where litigation became necessary that it ran smoothly.
The most recent update to the Personal Injury Pre-Action Protocol came in March 2005 and a brief outline of the requirements and timescale is set out below. Should you wish to view the Protocol in full click the link. Personal Injury Pre-Action Protocol.
- Once we have sent a letter of claim out to the Defendant, they have 21 calendar days, from the date of posting, to acknowledge receipt of the letter of claim and identify the insurer.
- The Defendant’s insurer will have a maximum of 3 months, from the date of acknowledgment of the claim, to ‘investigate’. No later than the end of that period, the Defendant (insurer) shall reply, stating whether liability is denied, and if so, giving reasons for the denial.
- A breach of either of the above timescales entitles the Claimant to issue proceedings, which will result in cost implications to the Defendant.
In short, following your initial consultation, a claim letter will be written and from delivery of the same the claim could be idle for a time period of some 15 weeks before anything further can be done.
Independent medical evidence will be required pursuant to Pre-Action Protocol and Civil Procedure Rules. Alkers will not arrange any medical appointment until we have received a concession of liability and/or the Defendant (insurer) have agreed to fund the specialist report. This is to avoid any costs be incurred which you would be liable for.
Obviously, as medical evidence is required, timescale becomes an issue again. The process is time consuming as medical records are required by the expert who then has to prepare a written report before releasing the same to us. It is his/her prognosis that the Defendant (insurer) will base their valuation of quantum upon and thus if any further treatment is required, ie physiotherapy, further time will lapse before settlement can be reached.
Alkers will ensure that the process runs as smoothly, quickly and efficiently as possible for you and will keep you informed of developments throughout the life of the action, although if you have any queries at any stage you will be provided with direct telephone numbers for your specific file handler.