Q. When I was driving a couple of weeks ago I was hit from behind by another car. My injuries are not that severe, but I have been suffering some back and neck pain and a friend says I could get compensation. How would you value my claim?
A. For legal representatives, the crucial element of any claim is to establish liability. For the injured party, however, the most important aspect of a claim is often the compensation.
Solicitors value a claim by looking at what impact an accident has had on the victim, i.e. injury and financial losses. Lawyers are not doctors, so in order to understand the nature and severity of the injury they will obtain a report from an independent medical expert that looks at the severity and prognosis of the injury and considers its impact on the individual’s ability to work and carry out daily tasks. The lawyers will then look to see how similar cases have settled and consider published guidelines.
Taking time and care at this stage is critical, as settling a claim prematurely without reports or further evidence could result in settling the matter before discovering that healing has not progressed as well as anticipated.
If you decide to pursue compensation, be wary of insurance companies putting pressure on you to settle a claim quickly. Remember, without a medical report and examination it is not possible value a claim, except in the most minor of injuries. In one recent example both sides had the same insurance company. One neck injury described by the hospital as severe and needing many weeks off work received a derisory offer within 5 hours of the collision. Instructing a solicitor to act on your behalf helps to avoid these ‘quick fix’ settlements and makes sure that settlements are fair.
(Article Published 22/07/2017)