The information below explains the key stages of a Personal Injury or Medical Negligence case. It’s a simplified view to help our clients understand what they can expect but our legal experts will explain in more detail about each individual case and the circumstances around it.
We will work with you to understand your situation and how the injury or illness came about. This will help us with the first step of a case, which is to determine who is responsible. Once the defendant has been identified, we may contact them to see if they accept responsibility.
Who Or What Is A Defendant?
The person, company, agent or representative that we make your claim against is referred to as the defendant. The may also be known as the opponent, the other side and the compensator.
Some common examples of a defendant:
- A driver, cyclist, or motorcyclist – road traffic collision claims
- Your employer – workplace accident and industrial illness claims
- A restaurant or cafe – food poisoning claims
- A hotel, cruise line, or tour operator – a variety of accident and illness abroad claims
- A local or central government body – Trips, falls, and other accidents in public places as well as innocent victims of crimes of violence (Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) claims
- A product manufacturer – product liability claims
- The Ministry of Defence – military injury claims
- A Health Care provider - Medical negligence claims.
How Do We Determine Responsibility?
It isn’t always clear who is responsible; it sometimes takes some extra investigation to find out who the defendant is. Our experienced team of investigators can help determine responsibility. In many cases, we won’t claim against the person or company that’s directly responsible, but their insurers.
Making a personal injury or medical injury claim can involve solicitor’s costs, court fees and other expenses. We will work with you to agree the best way to cover the cost of your claim based on your circumstances. This could include your own insurance, trade union funding or a no win, no fee agreement.
To make a successful claim we need to provide documented proof referred to as evidence. We gather evidence from different sources that help build a picture of what happened, who is responsible and how the injury or illness has and may continue to affect you.
Evidence from you
We will support you to provide us with key information. Don’t worry if you can’t remember everything or don’t know all the details. Tell us everything you can, and we’ll carry out extra investigation if we need to.
Depending on the nature of your case we may also ask you to attend medical assessments. The defendant(s) may request that their own medical experts assess you as well.
To support your claim and provide evidence of the impact your illness or injury had on your life, evidence might include:
- Photos of any visible injuries such as bruises, cuts, or scars
- Reports from specialists to find out if and how long it will take to recover and the long-term impact
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Tax and benefits records
- Employment records
An account of events from family friends and employer will help us to build a fuller picture to support your case. We will talk to you about the evidence we need and who we should get in touch with.
Helping you make the best possible recovery is our main priority, so we’ll organise any medical care or rehabilitation that you need as soon as possible.
Support and Rehabilitation Coordinators
We have an in house team of Support and Rehabilitation experts. They can provide early support and help work out if your injuries mean that you need any special rehabilitation, care or therapy and changes to your accommodation. We’ll discuss your recovery goals and make a plan to help you achieve them. Maybe you want to get back to work as soon as possible, or simply want to be able to play with your kids again. We’ll consult specialists to understand how much recovery you can make and set achievable goals based on your injuries. We’ll also put you in touch with the right people and organisations to help you work toward those milestones.
Making a personal injury claim can also come with other legal and financial issues that you need help with. Knowing you and your unique situation means that other specialist teams within Irwin Mitchell can provide advice and support on these issues.
Whether during or after your claim, we can help you:
- Buy a new or adapt your current home to ensure it is accessible and meets your needs
- Protect your compensation settlement through a personal injury trust
- Invest your compensation to make sure it lasts
- Make or update your Will to reflect your new situation
- Make sure you get any support you’re entitled to from the government and local authorities
- Apply to the Court of Protection to manage a loved one’s affairs if they’ve lost mental capacity
- Settle employment disputes
- Other helpful information.
It’s difficult to say how long your claim may take as this depends on many factors including the extent of your injuries and how the defendant responds. We will need to review your recovery throughout to make sure we are aware of any changes that will affect your case.
In some cases, your recovery progress may affect your claim before we reach a settlement. If so, we may need to arrange a second medical assessment. We’ll also contact the people in charge of your rehabilitation for opinions about how your recovery is going. Assessing how your recovery has gone so far will help our medical experts fine-tune their recommendations and make sure our evidence is as accurate as possible. For serious injuries, it can sometimes take a long time to fully understand your long-term outlook. We may have to repeat stages multiple times before we’re ready to move on.
Once we have all the evidence we need, we’re ready to work out how much compensation you could be entitled to. There’s no such thing as an average personal injury claim. The consequences of the same type of injury aren’t the same for any two people, so the compensation awarded will be different and tailored to your specific needs.
The figure we look to recover from those responsible for your illness/injury will take into account a number of factors including but not limited to the following:
- Your injuries, pain and suffering
- The cost of any medical treatments, therapies, or rehabilitation
- Travel costs to and from medical appointments relating to the accident
- Lost income if you’re out of work or can’t do the same job as before the injury/illness
- Adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, or an accessible car
- Home adaptations or the cost of moving to a more accessible home
- Care costs – either covering the cost of a professional carer or compensating a family member for any time spent caring for you
- Items damaged in an accident such as your clothes, car, bike, and more.
Our calculation will take into account costs or losses that you’ve already incurred as well as those that we predict you’ll face in the future. For some of these factors, we’ll be able to use the evidence we’ve gathered in the previous stages. For others, we’ll ask you to provide evidence such as receipts, pay slips or photos.
In fatal cases the approach to compensation is different and will be explained in detail by our experts.
Once we’ve worked out how much compensation you could be entitled to, we’ll try to agree the best possible final settlement amount with the people you’re claiming against.
The defendant may suggest a settlement amount in an offer – known as a Part 36 offer – or we might make our own offer. Both sides can make multiple offers as we try to negotiate a figure that’s acceptable for everyone. Offers can be made in writing or by email or on the telephone and often have deadlines placed upon them. It’ll be up to you whether to accept an offer or not, but you’ll always have our advice and support. We’ll do all the communication and negotiation for you. If we can’t agree an offer with the defendant, we might need to resolve your claim in court. Going to court can be stressful and time-consuming so we always try to negotiate out-of-court settlements first, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Our priority is getting the best outcome for you taking all your particular circumstances into account.
If your claim goes to trial (final court hearing), a judge will examine the evidence, listen to witnesses and experts, and decide how much compensation you should receive. You may have to attend court yourself and give evidence but this does depend on the nature of your injuries and we’ll provide lots of advice and support every step of the way.
We have decades of experience helping clients through court hearings and successfully securing compensation settlements. You’ll have our full support throughout, and we’ll explain everything so you always know what to expect. The defendants may still make offers for an out-of-court settlement once we’ve decided to resolve your claim at a final court hearing. If you accept one of these offers, the court date will usually be cancelled.
After you’ve accepted an offer or the court has made a decision at a court hearing, the final stage is to make decisions about how you’ll get your compensation payment and how to manage your finances into the future.
Usually, you’ll get your compensation as a lump sum payment once your claim ends, minus any interim payments you’ve already had and any other expenses due to be paid out to others.
To protect the money and make it last for as long as possible, we can introduce you to an independent financial advisers.
Sometimes, the Court will decide that your compensation will be paid partly in a lump sum and partly through regular instalments known as ‘periodical payments’ (annual payments) instead. This will often happen if your compensation covers long-term care costs or loss of earnings. Most of the time, the compensation will be paid directly to you or a trust in your name. In some cases, the money will be paid into a special account at Court instead. This will happen if you’re unable to manage your own financial affairs, for example because a brain injury has left you with reduced mental capacity or if you are a child. Specially appointed people will then use the money for you, in your best interests, to pay for your care and other costs.