Most people are aware that to bring a claim for personal injuries there are time limits involved, which for the majority of adult claimants is 3 years from the date the accident occurred.
Here at Devonalds we understand that following an accident, bringing a claim may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Sometimes there can be perfectly good reasons for delaying bringing a claim, although there are a number of advantages of bringing the claim sooner rather than later.
1. The facts of the accident will be more clear
Obviously the closer to the accident, the more clear your memory will be of the specific details. If liability is in dispute certain key details can become crucial to the case, for example the exact location of the accident or whether there were any witnesses. During our initial consultation with you regarding your claim, we will take down the details that you are able to remember from the accident so that they are readily available for future reference.
2. Preserving/Obtaining Evidence is easier
a. It’s easier to contact witnesses
The longer time goes on, the more difficult it could become to contact witnesses. They may have moved address or changed their telephone number and not have informed you. The evidence of witnesses can be crucial in some cases to succeeding with a claim.
b. The accident site may have altered or been repaired
This is particularly relevant to cases involving trips and slips. This is why we strongly recommend that photographs and accurate measurements of any defect that has caused the accident are taken as soon as is practical following the accident. The owner of the premises or the local authority may come and repair the defect if it has been reported as a hazard.
c. CCTV may no longer be available
CCTV footage is normally only kept for a maximum of 8 weeks. In some cases CCTV evidence can be a crucial factor, for example if there are not any witnesses and if there has been no record made of the accident.
d. Vehicles/Machinery that have caused the accident may no longer be available
The vehicle/machinery which may have caused your accident could be sold or scrapped if you delay bringing your claim. As a result an expert engineer will no longer be able to examine the vehicle/machinery if liability is denied and there is a need to do so.
3. Rehabilitation can be arranged sooner
The sooner a personal injury claim is brought, and if responsibility has been admitted, the sooner the injured person will be able to benefit privately from any rehabilitation services that may be required, for example physiotherapy or psychological treatment. Rehabilitation is a crucial part of any personal injury claim but it is vital to serious injury claims because rehabilitation allows the injured person to access specialist medical treatment and support quickly, which may not be readily available on the NHS. In many cases, having the appropriate rehabilitation at the right time helps the injured person to recover faster.
4. An interim payment can be obtained sooner
An interim payment is when you receive part of your compensation settlement early, before your claim has fully and finally settled. The benefit here is that whilst your case may not be ready to settle (for example you could still be suffering symptoms so a clear prognosis cannot yet be given, or you could be waiting to see a specialist medical expert) you can still benefit from some compensation in the meantime to help your financial situation. It is very important not to settle a personal injury claim too early, as usually once settled, this is on a ‘full and final basis’, so you won’t be able to get any more compensation from your claim in the future if any additional problems arise.
5. You can obtain independent legal advice sooner
If you have been involved in a road traffic accident, you may be contacted by the other driver's insurance company before you have even had chance to seek you own legal advice. The insurance company may offer to represent you in any claim and may suggest that the claim will be settled quicker and more simply as they do not require a full medical report or a detailed investigation. This is a tactic used by insurance companies to seek to reduce the amount of compensation paid out for your injuries. Whilst it may be appealing to some, we would never advise one of our clients to accept what is known as a ‘pre-medical offer’ (which is where an offer of compensation is made without any medical evidence of your injuries having been obtained). As mentioned earlier, usually in personal injury claims any settlement is final and so if you experience any further medical problems/symptoms following settlement of the claim you would be unable to claim any extra compensation. By obtaining independent legal advice with a Solicitor as soon as possible you can avoid this danger.
Our advice is to contact us as soon as possible after the accident to discuss any potential claim you may have. We understand in some scenarios you may be cautious about bringing a claim, for example if the claim is a work accident against your employer and you still work there. We will be able to discuss your various options and it will be your decision when and whether the matter is taken any further.
Here at Devonalds you can rest assured that our personal injury claims involve no upfront costs as we work on a no win, no fee basis. If you would like to discuss a potential claim, contact our specialised personal injury team today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01443 755189.