The Claims Process
How long it takes to make a claim for compensation
The length of time it takes for you to receive compensation is very much dependent on the particular details of your case. Claiming compensation can take anywhere from a number of weeks to a number of years.
There are two things that can slow down your claim: determining fault and the compensation amount. If the opposition accepts that they are at fault for your accident and agree that the amount you and your injury solicitor are requesting is fair, then your claim can be settled out-of-court in just a couple months.
On the other side of the coin, if the opposition does not accept blame or contests the amount of compensation you are claiming, then the case will have to go to court. This involves setting a court date, making a few court appearances and giving evidence. The process can take years to complete.
It’s important to listen to your solicitor’s advice. If they have done their homework, they should have come up with a fair compensation amount. Don’t be greedy! Asking for more than your claim is worth will only drag out the process.
This video provides a simple guide to the compensation claims process and how you can get the compensation you are entitled to.
The claims portal
The Claims Portal was set up by the Ministry of Justice in 2010. It takes the form of an electronic interface to be used to process road traffic accident claims as well as those dealing with incidents which take place in the workplace (employers liability claims) or in a public space (public liability claims). The portal handles claims where the total compensation is less than £25,000. It operates in a manner which streamlines and speeds up those cases in which liability is admitted early in the process and an offer made and agreed relatively quickly. People who feel somewhat daunted by the prospect of launching a compensation claim should take comfort from the fact that a large majority of personal injury cases fall into this ‘quick and easy’ category.
The portal aims to keep costs down by standardising the process, thus ensuring that the maximum resources are devoted to compensation rather than costs. One method employed is the imposition of time limits once a claim has been entered into the system, during which the other party, or their insurers, is obligated to deny or accept liability. The time limits are:
Road traffic accidents – 15 days
Employers liability claims – 30 days
Public liability claims – 40 days
Using the Claims Portal, your injury lawyer will be able to enter the details of your accident and the injuries sustained, in order to create a Claim Notification Form (EL1). This will be sent to the other party, who then has to respond in the timeframe outlined above. Although the portal simplifies the process, it is still vital to seek professional help when accessing it; if the other party makes an offer, your solicitor will be able to recommend accepting it or rejecting it for being too low, and if liability is denied then the claim will be removed from the Portal, prior to a court case.
Claiming on a no win no fee basis
The no win no fee system lets you claim without any upfront fees, so why wouldn’t you want to claim on that basis? At claims.co.uk, our personal injury lawyers work on a no win no fee basis; however, there were changes to the law in 2013 that have affected these types of claims.
In cases which are lost, there have been no changes – solicitors will still not be owed any legal fees at the end of the claim.
However, in cases which are successful, from April 2013 lawyers are no longer allowed to claim their ‘success fee’ from the losing party. This means that your solicitor’s fee will now be taken from any compensation you are awarded, up to a maximum of 25%. This only applies to lump-sum payouts – any future payouts awarded, to provide for any future care requirements, are not affected.
Although these changes have complicated the system somewhat, they have done little to alter the basic principles underpinning it. Claimants will still be protected from the risk of financial loss and the compensation received will be intended to reflect the nature and severity of the injuries received, as well as compensating for any expenses or financial losses arising from these injuries. The law dealing with these changes is the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.
Who will I be claiming against?
The precise nature of the party against whom you will be making your claim will depend upon the details of your case:
If you have suffering an injury at work, then your claim will be made against your employer. However, all employers are required by law to take out liability insurance, which provides financial cover if a worker is injured. This means any compensation you receive following an accident at work will be paid by an insurance company, and will not come directly from your employer.
In the event of sustaining injuries due to an RTA which you feel was caused by the negligence of another party, the details of the claim will depend upon the accident in question. In the bulk of cases, your claim will be made against another driver whom you feel acted in a negligent manner, but in some cases the negligent party might be a pedestrian, cyclist or even a fellow passenger. If you’re involved in an accident caused by a negligent driver who isn’t insured, or who leaves the scene of the accident before being identified, then you can still make a claim via the Motor Insurers Bureau, an independent body funded by the motor insurance industry as a whole.
If you feel your accident was caused by an unsafe driving surface, then the claim will be made against the relevant Local Authority, which has responsibility to take reasonable steps to keep the road surface safe, as set out in the Highways Act.
If you trip, slip or fall in a public place such as a supermarket, for example, and feel that this was caused by the negligence of the operators of that space – i.e. because of a failure to clean spillages, remove litter or to maintain a safe surface underfoot – there is a series of laws devised to set out the duty of care which the operator of a space has to the public using it. These include the Occupiers Liability Act 1957, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
Taken together, these various bits of legislation set out a binding framework of regulations outlining the responsibility of anyone in charge of a public space. If this responsibility has not been met, and this failure resulted in you falling and injuring yourself, then you have every right to consider making a claim.
Claims for medical negligence are sometimes amongst the most complex to pursue, due to the nature of the expert evidence required in order to establish that the treatment provided fell below an acceptable level and that this was due to negligence and has resulted in illness or injury. Although the process will differ slightly depending upon whether you are claiming against a private practice or an NHS body, the principles remain the same and an expert solicitor will help to build the strongest possible case.
In the case of a criminal injury, the claim will be made via the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). This government body processes claims from people who have been physically or psychologically injured following a violent crime in which they played no part. Due to the nature of such incidences, the perpetrator of the crime does not have to have been apprehended or charged, and any compensation paid will be covered by CICA rather than insurance. There are various exceptions around who can claim, and, in most cases, a strict 2 year time limit after which a claim can’t be pursued.
The amount of compensation awarded
As much as you might like, you certainly won’t be able to pluck a number out of thin air when determining your compensation. There are guidelines that exist which how much you should receive based on your injuries, published by the Judicial College, part of the British judiciary.
However, determining compensation is not as black-and-white as this may seem. Other factors that affect the amount of compensation include: the duration of your injuries, the length of time your injuries will have an effect, related employment issues, related expenses and complications to your lifestyle or social enjoyment.
Find out if you are entitled to claim
To find out whether you’re entitled to claim, you must first ask yourself whether or not you need to claim. For example, if you are likely to be awarded less than £1,000 compensation for you injuries then it may be difficult to pursure a claim.
First of all, you can only claim for compensation if you are actually injured. You cannot claim for negligent acts that were caught just in time or near-misses. If you were indeed injured, you need to consider the extent of your injuries as well. If you’ve only sustained a scratch, it’s likely that your claim won’t be very successful.
It’s always best to speak to a qualified injury solicitor about your eligibility to make a claim. Once he or she has a thorough understanding of your case, they can make an informed decision about whether or not you’re in a position to claim.
Are you interested in speaking to an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury specialist? Contact us today and we’ll give you the information you need to get the compensation you deserve.