Accident claims, busting the myths
‘Ambulance chasing’, ‘compensation culture’, ‘cash for crash claims’. Anyone who brings a claim for compensation after an accident must be faking it.
The reality is that the vast majority of claimants are genuine. Their lawyers mostly recover fairly modest sums of money for accident victims – and only when they’ve been injured through no fault of their own.
Here are 10 myth busting facts about making a personal injury claim:
- “If I make a claim I will be part of the compensation culture”
The aim of this phrase, used a lot by insurers and the media is to create an impression that frivolous and fraudulent claims are brought all the time. The fact is there is no evidence of a compensation culture in this country. Lord Lofstedt was employed by the government to investigate – he concluded his enquiries in 2011 by saying:
“The “compensation culture? (or the perception of it) in the UK has been the subject of several reviews over the last few years,, but no evidence has been presented for its existence”
In fact over the years accident claims have decreased. According to the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) workplace claims have halved in the last 10 years and government figures show a fall from 183,342 claims in 2002/03 to 91,115 in 2012/13.
If you have had an accident and you were genuinely injured as a result, why shouldn’t you make a claim when it wasn’t your fault?
- “I can’t make a claim; it’s been too long since my accident”
A personal injury claim, must usually be issued at Court within three years of the date of the accident or within three years of the date when you realised your injuries were caused by the accident. Children who have been injured have until their 21st birthday to bring a claim.
- “Personal injury claims take years to settle”
Claims usually take between 1 – 2 years to settle. There are many factors that can delay settlement such as whether the defendants admit fault for the accident. Generally the more severe the injury the longer the case will take to settle because the recovery time is usually longer and further investigations into the injuries need to made.
- “Making a personal injury claim is too stressful and complicated”
If you have a good lawyer who updates you regularly and explains the process to you, making a claim should not feel complicated. People deal with stress in different ways and naturally the process can feel stressful sometimes. But, it is your lawyer’s duty to take that stress away from you and deal competently with any issues that arise.
- “I have to use the solicitors my insurers have referred me onto”
Insurance companies usually have ‘panel solicitors’, so if you have had a road traffic accident, you will get a call pretty promptly from a law firm. The moment you report the accident to your insurance company, they immediately send the details to their panel solicitors. Don’t feel pressurised to go with the solicitors that call you – just like any other service, you have the right to shop around.
Most solicitors offer free 30 minute consultations, so make enquiries. It is so important you have a lawyer that you have a good rapport with and you feel confident will offer a great service.
- “I will have to go to court”
Most cases do not go to Court. There is plenty of opportunity to try and negotiate a settlement before the case gets to trial – it is a last resort. Occasionally cases can reach logger heads and the matter has to be decided by a judge, but that’s very rare.
- “I just want some easy money”
Making a claim is not as easy as sitting and waiting for the payment to arrive – it is a team effort between you and your lawyer. Lawyers will need to check information with you and to give you advice, and you will have to attend at least one medical examination. You may need some physiotherapy or other treatment. Each client is unique; your lawyer needs to make sure that you get the right amount of compensation based on your particular circumstances – which means having as much input from you as possible.
- “I don’t trust lawyers – they’re in it for themselves”
Shakespeare once famously wrote ‘Let’s kill all the lawyers’. The public perception of lawyers doesn’t seem to have changed much in the last 400 years! The reality is that the profession is highly regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Law Society. At Ridley & Hall we pride ourselves on the personal and friendly service we provide to our clients – which is why most of them recommend our services to their friends and family.
- “I’ve had an accident at work but I’m not making a claim because I’ll get the sack”
It is understandable to fear losing your job if you make a claim for an accident at work. But – your employers are likely to have insurance to cover them if you have an accident that wasn’t your fault. If your employers fire you, then you might be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal – but whatever happens, you have a legal right to make a claim for an accident at work. By making a claim you will probably encourage your employer to make your workplace safer so the accident won’t happen again to one of your colleagues.
- “I’ll have to pay a huge amount of solicitor’s fees”
In most accident claims solicitors act on a ‘no win no fee’ basis. At Ridley & Hall if you win your case we are entitled to take up to 25% of your compensation – so you are always guaranteed to receive at least 75% of your compensation.
Samantha is a litigator at Ridley & Hall Legal Limited. She is able to offer a free 30 minute consultation and no win no fee agreements.