“Where there is a Scheme there is usually a Schemer” says Alison Spriggs, Senior Legal Executive of Hayward Baker Solicitors.
Many insurance companies are now contacting the injured party directly following an accident and are encouraging, and often pressuring the victims, of their policy holder’s bad driving, to take a pay out before they have had an opportunity to take legal advice and in some instances before they have even had the chance to seek medical opinion.
Sometimes contact is made within only hours of the occurrence of the accident, whilst the injured party is in considerable pain and discomfort and is still shocked and upset by the incident and when they are not always able to give appropriate consideration to their options.
The insurers will claim that they are trying to help the victim by offering them early money and perhaps a replacement vehicle. However, is this really the case? We suspect that the real reason is to minimise the amount of compensation that they pay out. Insurers need to try and keep premiums of their policy holders down and therefore it is within their interest to make a low offer. The concern with this approach is that the insurers are tempting the injured party to settle the claim quickly and gain compensation early, which can and often does result in the injured party under settling their claim and being out of pocket. The offer of £1,000 on top of the damage to your vehicle can be attractive, but is it enough?
Compensation for injuries is based on the period of time that it takes the injured party to recover from their injuries. The insurer’s early offer to settle will be made without the injured party being medical examined and without receiving a prognosis of when the injured party is likely to have fully recovered. It is therefore extremely difficult to know within hours or days of the accident what the true value of the claim is. Did you know that you can also claim for out of pocket financial losses, including loss of earnings? You may also be entitled to receive some rehabilitation treatment such as physiotherapy from the insurers, free of charge. However it is unlikely these will be known by the time an eager insurer is knocking on the door and do you really believe that the insurers will advise you that this can also be claimed for?
If the insurers have admitted fault it may also possible to ask the insurers to make an interim payment should you be short on funds.
In our experience the offers made by insurers in this way are normally nominal payments. The majority of injured party, even from minor impacts with modest injuries will recovery more quickly with legal help. Further it removes the risk of going on to develop more serious symptoms and sometimes long term problems. In these instances the injured party who accepted the early offer is likely to have been substantially under compensated.
This activity also calls into question the issue of whether there is a “conflict of interest” and whether the insurers are regulated in any way. How can the insurers act in the injured party’s best interests when they are the compensating party? They are representing their insured, the Defendant and therefore their ability to act in the injured party’s best interest must be compromised.
Our advice to any injured party to avoid becoming a victim of third party capture is to always ensure that you seek independent legal advice from a solicitor specialising in personal injuries claims. All solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and therefore this will result in your claim being correctly conducted by a professional and qualified member of staff at the outset. It is not within your interests to settle your claim directly with the insurers without taking specialised legal advice before hand.
For any further advice or information, please contact Alison Spriggs on Freephone 0800 1077 321 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org