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Putting the “Personal” back into “Personal Injury”

How to claim maximum damages on a No Win No Fee basis

A friend of mine was recently involved in a road traffic accident. His first priority was to seek medical attention and advise his insurers. To his surprise, within hours of the accident, he started to receive telephone calls enquiring about his injuries and whether he intended to make a claim. At that stage he didn’t know the extent of his injuries and was still in shock after the accident. By the end of the day he had received several calls of this nature and was confused as to his options and how to proceed.

One of the calls he received was from the other party’s insurers. Their insured had driven into the back of his car and it was clear that she was to blame. The insurer seemed very keen to settle his claim quickly and told him that there was no need for him to see a lawyer, suggesting that he may incur legal costs if he did so. He’d had a bad day. His neck and back were a bit sore, but he thought they’d be better by the morning. He didn’t want any further hassle so he accepted the offer.

When he woke the next day, his neck and back were stiff and painful. He ended up having two weeks off work and lost money as a result. He was put on a waiting list for NHS physiotherapy and it was 8 months before he fully recovered from his injuries. The amount that he was offered by the insurers was much too low to compensate him for what he had suffered.

Even a relatively minor injury may have a significant impact on your life and it is important that it is handled properly. An insurance company owes a duty to its shareholders to pay out as little as possible, so how can they act in your best interests too?

Personal injury is a complex area of law and it is extremely difficult for an individual to assess how much he should receive. The effects of the accident may persist for a long time, but once you have accepted your settlement you will be unable to claim any more compensation. It is therefore important that you seek expert advice from a lawyer who has the appropriate experience and expertise.

The other calls my friend received were from companies offering to arrange legal representation. Solicitors are not allowed to contact you directly in this way without your permission. These calls are from Claims Management companies – middlemen who will simply sell your case on to a solicitor who may be as far away as London or Leeds. You may also have been approached by them in the street or seen their TV adverts, explaining how your claim will be dealt with on a no win no fee basis, with you keeping all your compensation.

Many people do not realise that their local solicitor may offer exactly the same terms (but has a marketing budget limited to an advert in the local directory rather than being promoted by a celebrity mid way through Coronation Street). There is also the added advantage of being able to call in and discuss the matter face to face with the person who will be handling your claim.

Another advantage of obtaining independent expert advice is that you can be sure you will be advised on all your entitlements. In addition to claiming compensation for the pain you have suffered, you can claim for loss of earnings, expenses such as treatment and travel expenses, and for care you received, even if it was provided by your family. Your solicitor can also arrange rehabilitation such as physiotherapy and provide help and support to assist you in making a quick and full recovery, without it costing you a penny.

If you are involved in an accident, whether on the road, the pavement or at work, choose a local solicitor who will take the time to find out how you are. We believe that this personal approach can result in a better understanding of your injuries and needs than if your claim were dealt with by somebody hundreds of miles away who you can only talk to on the phone. This enables us to ensure that you receive all the compensation you are entitled to and, as we will deal with your claim on a No Win No Fee basis, you will keep it all.

Kirsten Tuck is a partner at Everett Tomlin Lloyd and Pratt and has been dealing with personal injury claims for over 15 years, obtaining millions of pounds of compensation for her clients. She is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Law Society Personal Injury Panel, voluntary accreditation schemes for lawyers which help you recognise their individual skills and expertise.

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