Ms A was driving her vehicle correctly off the A487 in Wales when another motorist who was attempting to park his vehicle reversed and collided with Ms A’s car causing her personal injury to her neck, shoulder and back.
Ms A wanted to claim compensation for her injuries so contacted Hayward Baker Personal Injury Solicitors and asked could they act on her behalf.
Once Hayward Baker solicitors had discussed the accident circumstances with Ms A and were satisfied that she had a case, that she fully understood what was involved in making a claim and that she was happy to proceed they sent out the relevant paperwork for her to sign and return.
Once the paperwork was received by Hayward Baker they made the claim by posting the Claims Notification Form to the other drivers (Other party or defendant) insurers via the on-line low value personal injury portal.
Ms A was informed that as the current estimated value of her claim is under £25,000, her claim is running under a scheme known as the “Pre-action Protocol for low value personal injury claims”.
She was further informed that the other party now have 15 working days to respond to the form. If the other party fails to respond within the time limit, denies liability, alleges that her claim is worth less than £1,000.00 or makes an admission of liability with an allegation of contributory negligence (argument that Ms A is partially responsible), then her claim will exit this scheme. If this occurs then her solicitor will notify her at that stage advising her how best to proceed with her claim.
If the other party admits liability for Ms A’s accident, within the time limit, then her claim will proceed under the above scheme and the next step will be to obtain medical evidence to substantiate the injuries that she sustained in the accident.
The medical evidence will enable her solicitor to demonstrate those injuries that she sustained in the accident and it would be helpful if she could provide her solicitor with a written update in relation to her current symptoms. Ms A was asked to confirm the following:
- does she still suffer symptoms as a result of the accident,
- if so, what are these symptoms,
- is she still having treatment at hospital or with her GP
- Is she still taking medication
When the initial paperwork was sent out for Ms A to sign she was sent a copy of Hayward Baker Solicitors ‘Out of Pocket Expenses Questionnaire’. She was asked to complete and return this as soon as possible and if she had any ongoing losses then she was to keep a record of these and to keep any receipts or damaged items.
Within the 15 days that the insurers had to investigate the claim and confirm their position on liability the insurers for the defendant contacted Hayward Baker Solicitors by letter stating that liability had been admitted and that as the injury is only minor they offered a pre-medical offer (no need to obtain a medical report) settlement figure of £1000.00 and in addition they would pay any costs in accordance with the rules. The insurers also asked that they are provided with a detailed schedule of Ms A’s out of pocket expenses (Special damages).
Should the case not be capable of settlement by a pre medical offer then the insurers asked for any claim for general damages to be accompanied by a fixed cost medical report from an accredited medical expert assuming the Ms A’s injuries are indeed just soft tissue injuries. Medical treatment was offered should Ms A need it and a request for a fully detailed schedule of out of pocket expenses was made.
Ms A received a letter from her solicitor explaining that liability was admitted and that this meant that provided the medical report proves she was injured as a result of the accident then the other drivers insurers will pay her compensation for her injuries. The level of compensation could not be discussed until the medical report has been received.
Ms A was also informed that in an attempt to settle her claim now the insurers have put forward an offer for the sum of £1000.00 and that this offer is in full and final settlement of her claim. She was told that if she accepted this offer then her solicitors would not be able to obtain a medical report fully detailing her injuries. Further that she would not be able to return to the insurer at a later date for further compensation. Ms A was informed the date by which she had to decide whether to accept the offer but it was important to note that after this date the defendant may, at any time until it is accepted, withdraw the offer or change its terms so it is less advantageous to her.
Ms A solicitor stated that it was difficult to advise her upon the reasonableness of this offer without the medical evidence to confirm the exact nature and duration of the injuries that she had sustained. It may be that her claim is worth more than the current offer once the medical report is received however there is no guarantee and it could be worth less than the current offer. If Ms A accepts the offer then the case will come to an end.
Should Ms A reject the offer then the case will continue and medical evidence will be obtained to support her injuries and her solicitor would then be able to advise on the likely financial value of her claim.
Ms A’s solicitor impressed upon her that if the medical evidence indicates a financial value in the region of the current offer of £1,000, she would not then be entitled to any further compensation simply on the basis that she waited for that evidence. The financial value of her claim is based on the injuries she sustained and how long they take to resolve, not the duration of the claim itself.
Ms A was asked to note that if she proceeds to issue court proceedings and at trial the court awards her a sum less than or equal to the insurers offer, or that she accept an offer later that is less than or equal to the insurers offer, then she may be ordered to pay some of the Defendant’s costs. A form of authority to settle the claim was attached to the letter with a choice to settle now or obtain a medical report.
Ms A chose to obtain a medical report and signed the authority and sent it back to her solicitor. Her solicitors arranged for an appointment with a General Practitioner who would examine her and formulate a report upon her injuries. Ms A was informed that arrangements were being made and when she receives an appointment letter she realises she has previously seen the Doctor for treatment either on the NHS or privately, to please let her solicitor know immediately. This is because they may need to cancel the appointment as it might not be appropriate for a Doctor who has previously treated her to author the medical report.
Once an appointment date was received by her solicitor Ms A was sent a letter confirming the time, date and place of the appointment. She was asked to confirm that she could or could not attend on the said date. When attending the medical appointment Ms A was reminded that the medical expert will be asking the following questions:
- Details of all injuries suffered and their immediate affects upon every aspect of her life;
- What treatment she has been given in relation to each injury and what treatment she is presently undergoing and have been advised that she might need in the future;
- Details of any continuing disability and the affect that this has upon her home life, employment, hobbies or pastimes etc that she enjoyed prior to the accident.
Ms A was informed that she may find it helpful to prepare a handwritten note commenting on each of these questions to pass to the expert at the examination. This will ensure that all matters that she is likely to want to be dealt with are covered in the report.
Her solicitor reminded her to let the medical expert have details of her travelling expenses for attending with receipts wherever possible and her solicitor will attempt to recover these for her. Ms A was also asked to ensure that when she attends the appointment she takes some form of identification with her to the appointment, such as a driver’s licence or passport to prove her identity to the medical expert.
Ms A attended the appointment and a few weeks later the medical report arrived at her solicitors. The report confirmed that the injuries were due to the road traffic accident. A copy of the report was sent to Ms A and she was asked to note that in the medical experts opinion her injuries should resolve within 9 months of the accident date. She was now asked to decide whether she now wished to disclose the report to the third party insurers at this stage and invite settlement offers or, if she is concerned that her recovery will be longer than the expert’s prognosis, she may wish to wait and see how she progresses over the coming months with the possibility of obtaining a further report once the estimated recovery period has expired. Her solicitor also noted that the medical report advises that she sustained a loss of earnings as a result of the accident. Ms A was informed that her solicitor has now written to her employers asking for her earnings information.
Ms A contacted her solicitor and asked that the claim be settled now and could her solicitor value the claim and disclose the medical report to the insurers. In the meantime the details of her earnings were received by her solicitor and so they updated her out of pocket expenses schedule accordingly.
Ms A’s insurers having received signed authority from her disclosed the claim to the insurers with an offer to settle of £3325.00 but a counter offer for just over £2800.00 was received from the insurers. This was rejected by Ms A and her solicitor put forward a second offer of just under £3300.00. A final offer was made by the insurers of just over £3000.00 and was accepted by Ms A in full and final settlement of her claim.