Podcast 3 – RTA – The claim process and liability
There are rules which regulate how a personal injury claim is made and the timescales that will apply in various circumstances. Unfortunately, this means that the length of a compensation claim will depend on various factors and the claims process can take a long time. Watermans will, of course, do whatever they can to settle your claim as quickly as possible but it is important to know from the outset that making a claim is not a quick process.
When you initially begin a claim with us, we will send forms out to you which are to give us some background to the accident and to provide us with some of your details.
The forms will then be passed to our team who will then get the process underway. When filling out your forms you are required to provide some details of the accident. The forms sent out by Watermans will ask you to give a brief description of the circumstances of your accident and your injuries. We will also ask you to draw a basic diagram of the crash. We will send out a mandate which allows us to act on your behalf, terms of business which is your agreement with us and a form which allows us to recover your medical records which will help our consultant examine you at a later date.
Please note your solicitor/claims handler will be in touch at a later date in order to take a more detailed statement from you via telephone, in order to give us as much information as possible with regards to your accident, the circumstances of it, your injuries and the effect it had on you and your life.
Intimating the claim
Using the information you have provided to us, we will then intimate your claim to the third party insurance company to formally start the whole process.
Once we have intimated your claim to the insurers, they have 21 days to acknowledge the claim and then a further 90 days to investigate the claim. This means that it may be between 4 to 6 months before we actually have any meaningful update for you.
The insurance companies can then either make an admission of liability which means that they accept their insured was at fault for the accident or they can deny/dispute liability for the accident, which means they are not accepting that their client was at fault. This will generally come from speaking to their client to ascertain the circumstances of the accident and carrying out investigations.
We appreciate that it may be frustrating when a third party driver accepts liability for an accident and the scene but later down the line their insurance company denies liability for the accident. However, admissions at the scene are not legally binding.
What happens if liability is denied or disputed?
In either of these circumstances, we will require as much information as possible. Any photographs, dashcam footage or witnesses from the scene will be very important in helping to prove your case as it would allow us to detail/show the insurers exactly what happened.
The insurers will also carry out their own investigations. Insurers may dispute claims for a number of reasons but they are not always clear on the reasons for it.
If the insurers are denying liability for the accident and we do not think you were at fault, we could raise a court action on your behalf, this will be discussed later in the podcast.
In order to pursue a personal injury claim, a medical report needs to be obtained from a qualified, independent consultant. This report cannot come from someone who has treated you previously such as a physiotherapist or GP as a court would not consider them to be independent. The consultant will be an expert who has experience in preparing medico-legal reports which are used in relation to a personal injury claim. They have a duty to the court and are entirely independent from you, Watermans and the third party insurers.
What will happen at the medical appointment?
You will receive details of the medical appointment directly from the expert or their secretary. The appointment will not take very long, normally around 20 minutes. It is unlike a normal medical appointment – the consultant is only there to provide an expert opinion on your injuries. The consultant will observe your range of movements and ask you various questions about the impact your injuries have had on your life. It is important that you mention anything you have experienced restrictions with in order that the consultant can include these in the report. It may useful to make a shortlist to take with you to the appointment. Some important things to think about are:
- Work – have you had time off or experienced any restrictions with your job? Have you or your employer had to make any adjustments for you?
- Care and assistance – have you required assistance from friends or family around the home, with driving or childcare?
- Hobbies and interests – are there any activities you would normally do that you have been unable to do because of your injuries? Have you had to miss out on any events or trips?
What happens once I have been to the appointment?
After your appointment, the consultant will prepare a report and send it to Watermans. This can take a few weeks depending on how busy the consultant is. Once we receive it, we will send it to you for review. You must review the report very carefully and ensure that the contents are correct, particularly name, address, and date of birth. If there is anything in the report that is incorrect or that you do not understand, call us as soon as possible to discuss this. If you agree with the contents of the report, call us to let us know.
If you have been involved in a road accident – and you feel sure it wasn’t your fault – you should contact Watermans Solicitors as soon as possible. Our expert accident solicitors can help establish whether you have a valid claim and advise on how much compensation you could be entitled to.