Wanstalls Solicitors

What happens in a personal injury claim?

If you have suffered an injury in any type of accident that wasn’t your fault then the first step is to contact a solicitor who specialise in this type of claim.

Wanstalls are a firm of solicitors specialising exclusively in personal injury claims arising from all types of accidents.

When clients contact us the first stage of the process is to discuss with the client what happened and obtain as much information as possible. This can be either done on the telephone or face to face. As part of this initial discussion we will identify the best form of funding for the claim.

The next step is to provide the client with the appropriate paperwork as there is a lot of information that solicitors are required by the Law Society to provide to new clients.

Once the paperwork is in place the next step is for the solicitor to start your claim. How this is done depends on the type of accident.

If the accident is any form of road traffic accident worth £10,000 or less then it is dealt with electronically. The details of the claim are put onto an electronic system called the “MOJ Portal”. The details go automatically to the relevant insurers who then have 15 business days to indicate whether or not they are accepting liability.

If liability is admitted the claim remains in the electronic system and moves to the next stage which deals with medical evidence, details of other loses and expenses and settlement.

All claims arising out of other types of accidents and those road traffic accidents that don’t come within the electronic system are commenced by writing a letter of claim to the other side.

Once the other side have received the letter of claim they have a set period to acknowledge receipt of the letter and they then have three months to investigate the claim at the end of which they must confirm whether or not they are accepting liability. If liability is denied then they must provide reason for their denial and copies of all relevant paperwork.

If liability is admitted then medical evidence and details of all the other elements of the claim are provided to the other side and in most cases a settlement of the claim is then negotiated.

It is worth pointing out that the majority of personal injury claims are settled by negotiation though the time scale for settlement depends very much on the level of injuries that the client has suffered. Where the injuries are quite serious it is often necessary to wait for some time before settling the claim to make sure that we have a clear understanding of the long term consequences of the injuries.

In those cases where liability is denied or the value of the claim cannot be agreed with the other side it becomes necessary to consider the commencement of court proceedings.

If court proceedings are necessary they are issued and served on the other side. The other side provide a defence but it does not mean that the next step is going to trial.

Between the service of court proceedings and the case going to trail there are many procedural steps which are aimed at making sure that each side has a clear understanding of the other side’s case and the evidence that they will be relying on.

Most cases are settled without court proceedings and not many of those where court proceedings are commenced go all the way to a trial. Many cases settle during the procedural steps leading up to a trial as each side asses its chances of being successful at a trial.

The last step in those few cases that do go all the way to a trial is that the court hears all the evidence and decides whether the defendants are liable for the accident and/ or the value of the claim.

The time scale for dealing with a personal injury claim can vary from a couple of months in straight forward road traffic accidents to a number of years in claims of substantial value that go all the way to a trial.

At Wanstalls Solicitors we do our best to advise clients at the outset how long we think their claim is going to take, the procedure for pursuing their claim and the factors that might make the claim take longer than the majority of cases.

If you have been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault why not give Wanstalls a call so that we can advise you on all aspects of your potential claim and then guide you through the various stages of your claim. You can also contact us using the contact form here.

Ian Wanstall

Do Claimants need Solicitors? Yes…

On television recently a representative of one of the very large insurance companies was suggesting that those injured in car accidents did not need the assistance of a solicitor.

The suggestion was that the insurers for the “at fault party” would make contact with the injured party and agree to compensate them directly. He indicated that in this way the injured party would get as much compensation or even more than they would have got if they were represented by an independent solicitor!

My job as a solicitor is to make sure that my clients are fully compensated for their injuries and other losses. The job of an insurance company is to make as much profit as possible for their shareholders; the less they pay out the more profit they make.

Unlike the insurance companies I do not think the public are gullible and I’m sure that the public will have no difficulty in seeing that they are going to get the best levels of compensation if they are represented by a solicitor who owes a duty to them to get the most they compensation they can for them.

It puts me in mind of a day at the races many years ago when a friend had just put a bet on a horse. Knowing that she knew very little about horse racing I asked how she had decided which horse to back. She said it was very easy, she just asked the bookie which horse he would recommend! I’m sure it will come as no surprise that the chosen horse came in last.

The practice of insurance companies approaching injured parties direct and offering them compensation is not new. Over the years I have acted for many clients who having been approached directly by the insurers became suspicious about the amounts of compensation they were being awarded and decided to seek independent advice.

There was a time, in a less cynical age, where the better insurance companies actually recommended that those who were injured sought independent legal advice. Those days regrettably are long gone.

What is always interesting is to look at the timing of insurers publicising a particular idea. I have provided a series of blogs on the changes that are soon to come in that are aimed at discouraging members of the public from making claims.

One of the changes is the banning of referral fees. Whilst the changes are as a result of a sustained and ultimately successful campaign of propaganda by the insurance industry, one change that may be seen as an “own goal” is the ban on referral fees.

The reason that in the past insurers have not sought to deal directly with injured parties as much as they might is that they had an alternative way of making money. A person injured in an accident that wasn’t their fault would be approached by their own insurers and the suggestion would be made that the insurers refer their claim to the insurers chosen solicitors. In this way the insurers would receive a referral fee from the solicitors.

The alternative, known as third party capture, was where the insurers for the driver who was at fault would immediately make contact with the other driver and suggest that they refer their personal injury claim to the insurers chosen solicitors. In this way they would get a referral fee from the solicitors.

It is very interesting that just as the insurers are about to lose a very substantial income from referral fees, they are very publically suggesting that injured parties don’t need solicitors as the insurers will deal with them direct.

The promise, as always, is that the insurers will pass on the savings to the public in reduced premiums. As I have indicated above, unlike the insurers, I don’t think the public are that gullible and will no doubt ask the very sensible question, if insurers are saving money will they pass the benefit to the public or their shareholders?

The insurers seem to forget that those who are injured in motor accidents are also those who buy motor insurance. Yes we all want lower premiums but are we prepared to get lower premiums at the expense of being ripped off by an insurance company when we are injured in an accident?

The advice, as always, is if you are injured in any type of accident contact an independent solicitor who’s duty it is to look after you’re best interests and get you the compensation you are entitled too.

If you have been injured in an accident why not give Wanstalls a call or contact us now. Initial advice is free and without obligation. By calling us you will have a friend in your corner with only your best interest at heart.

Ian Wanstall – Contact me at ian.wanstall@wanstalls.co.uk

Wanstalls Solicitors are based in County Durham in the North East of England. We represent clients both locally and nationwide and offer a friendly personalised service. If you would like to discuss any aspect of a personal injury claim, we would be delighted to hear from you.