How do you actually make traffic accident injury claims? It is rare for a member of the public to successfully recover adequate compensation without the help of Solicitor. However the Civil Liability Act 2018 plans to introduce a new system from March 2020. The new rules are designed to improve the profitability of insurance companies by removing Claimant Solicitors from the process. The entitlement to claim legal costs when your case is successful will be removed. The insurers say that if legal costs are reduced insurance premiums will be lower. See the insurer propaganda here. Whatever the justification, from March 2020 for most traffic accident injury claims the government’s view is that the public do not need any assistance in order to obtain fair compensation from the insurance company for their injuries. They claim that members of the public will be fine going up against the insurance companies and their solicitors on their own . We disagree! This obvious imbalance is unfair and individuals will be at put at a considerable disadvantage.
In this post we discuss the 5 steps we currently undertake to present traffic accident injury claims to an insurance company. These are only the first steps of a successful claim. The details have not yet been published as to how the public are expected to undertake these steps themselves without any assistance. Substantial work is needed to provide a system that would enable a member of the public to obtain appropriate compensation for traffic accident injury claims.
1. Identify the correct insurance company to present traffic accident injury claims.
The first step is to identify the correct insurance company. In theory the other driver should have provided the information at the scene of the accident. Often people do not have this to hand or provide old details. Sometimes they are reluctant to provide it as they believe it will encourage claims. Provided the other vehicle’s registration number was recorded you can obtain details of the correct insurance company from the Motor Insurers Database but they charge a fee of £4.50 for the privilege.
2. Present full details of traffic accident injury claims to the Insurance company.
Currently all road traffic accident injury claims must be submitted via the Rapid Claims Settlement Online Portal . In order to use this system you must have an account which are only available to “claimant lawyer’s and insurers’/compensators’ existing in-house systems“. This means that is cannot be used by members of the public. The Government have advised that they intend to provide a replacement Portal for use by the public from March 2020. No further details have been provided.
3. Provide the insurance company with a detailed claims history including all previous traffic accident injury claims.
Together with the online notification at stage 2 above, a detailed claims history must also be submitted. This must be obtained from a government department called the Motor insurers Bureau via their askcue website. Once again, It is unclear how public will be expected to undertake this step on their own after March 2020.
4. Obtain a medical report.
It is inadvisable to resolve a claim for personal injury without obtaining a medical report and indeed after March 2020 it will be forbidden. See our previous post for a further discussion of this issue. For road traffic accident claims we are no longer allowed to instruct a doctor of our choice. We are required to select one of a number of doctors nominated by an online system called Medco. Yet again, members of the public are unable to register for this system. We provide the portal with the details of our client and several doctors are nominated. Such nominated doctors are supposed to be appropriately qualified and will undertake the examination in a location convenient to our client. This is not always the case and careful selection from the nominated list is required.
Often the Insurance company or the doctor will request sight of the full medical records. These must be obtained directly from any hospital attended and the registered GP. The requests can be made pursuant to the GDPR which prevents a fee being charged. However, the medical institutions are provided 56 days to respond and unfortunately nearly always require at least this amount of time. The records when provided are often either a large amount of paper, computer disks or increasingly via an encrypted download which is only made available for a limited time.
Once the doctor has been selected and the medical records obtained. A letter of instruction must be sent to the doctor (together with the records) which outlines the accident circumstances and the injuries sustained. The doctor will then issue an appoint to examine the injured person and prepare a report. The cost of this report is fixed at £216.00 (£312.00 if reviewing records). The Claimant is required to pay the doctor for this report upon receipt, however we pay this upon behalf of our clients and (hopefully) reclaim it from the insurer at the end of the process.
5. Approve the medical report, collate evidence and submit it to the Insurance company.
After being examined by the doctor it can often take a considerable time for the report to be prepared. Once received, the report must be carefully checked for errors. Once sent to the insurance company it is assumed that everything in the report has been approved by the injured person and cannot be amended. It is particularly important to ensure that all injuries sustained are recorded and that details such as the time off work are recorded correctly.
Together with the medical report it is also necessary to list all other items of financial loss that you wish to recover and provide evidence in support. Should you fail to do so it is likely that you will be prevented from claiming them at a later date. A Solicitor provides substantial assistance in this area as there are a wide variety of items that can / should be claimed which can substantially affect the value of the claim.
Once you have a medical report with which you agree together with documents in support of all your financial losses you are required to return to the Rapid Claims Settlement Online Portal and attach the report and documents and send them to the insurance company. At this point the Claimant must also make an offer of settlement i.e. how much compensation they wish to receive. This is another area which can be incredibly difficult without the assistance of a solicitor. Correctly valuing a claim is a skill. The main weapon that a specialist accident injury claims solicitor possesses is their experience of having settled thousands of claims. We have the knowledge of how much a claim is worth and an understanding of the negotiation process. This is the single biggest area in which insurance companies take advantage of the imbalance of power when the public are expected to pursue claims without legal advice. A member of the public cannot be expected to know how much compensation they should be receiving and whether the Insurance companies offer is fair.
And that’s it…….!
That is a very brief outline of the steps we would take to present a standard road traffic accident claim to an insurance company. It must be highlighted that they rarely go to plan and numerous issues crop up which we have to solve on a case by case basis. An example would be injuries that do not recover inline with the doctor’s report.
This post only deals with presenting traffic accident injury claims to the insurance company. There are many more steps required to successfully complete the claim. Once we have undertaken the above the steps the insurance company may simply respond that they deny the claim. To resolve this dispute legal proceedings must be commenced. Once again after March 2020 the government expect you to pursue most traffic accident injury claims though the court process without the assistance of a solicitor against the insurance company, their solicitors and barristers.
It is our opinion that pursuing a claim for injury without a solicitor is very difficult and you are unlikely to receive the true amount of compensation to which you are entitled, if any. The experience of a solicitor that specialises in road traffic accident injury claims will dramatically increase the likelihood that you maximise your claim. We are confident that the cost of using our expert service will be easily offset by the increased amount of compensation we recover for you. We do not envisage that any system put in place after March 2020 will resolve the imbalance of power created by encouraging claims without legal assistance. In the words of The Law Society “Don’t get mugged by an insurer, use a Solicitor“.
Free legal advice without any obligation to use our services.
If you would like some free advice from one of our Solicitors that specialises in traffic accident injury claims please contact Tom or David. Our initial advice is always free and without any obligation to use our services. If we agree to work together we have various funding methods including “No win-No fee”.