Following an accident you may find yourself – perhaps for the very first time – facing the prospect of having to instruct a solicitor to pursue a claim for compensation on your behalf. This can often seem a daunting task as you begin to ponder such questions as how to choose the ‘right’ solicitor, what information and evidence you will need to provide, whether you will be able to keep all of your compensation, whether to accept a settlement offer and how long you have to make a claim. This article seeks to answer some of these questions.
• Choosing the right solicitor
Choosing the right personal injury solicitor can make a real difference to your prospects of success. Word of mouth recommendation is always good but you may also carry out your own research on the internet and by calling up local law firms. It is important to choose an experienced personal injury expert who specialises in personal injury law and will know exactly how to maximise your chances of being awarded compensation. Do not be fooled into thinking that you are obliged to accept the solicitor nominated by your insurance company – this is not the case, you are entitled to choose any personal injury solicitor you wish.
• Information and evidence
Following your accident you should keep as much information as possible to pass on to your attorney. Your solicitors will require precise details of the accident, details of the third party and any witness and your police reference number. You may also be able to claim for losses such as prescription charges, travelling expenses (to medical appointments) and lost earnings so you should keep receipts, invoices and payslips to back up these losses.
• 100% compensation
You are entitled to keep 100% of your compensation. Ensure that you read the small print when signing initial documents with your solicitor to ensure that that are intending to deduct anything from the amount you are awarded.
• Third party settlement offers
The third party will, of course, want to settle your claim for as little as possible and as quickly as possible. Do not feel pressured into accepting an early offer from the third party insurers and you may risk under settling your claim. It is usually advisable to wait until you have fully recovered from your injuries until you instruct your solicitor to begin settlement negotiations.
• How long do you have to make a claim?
Following an accident, you have three years in which to make a claim. If your claim has not been settled, or court proceedings have not commenced, within this time then you may be prevented in law from making a claim.