We are often asked by clients about the progress of their claims. We aim to keep all clients fully informed at all stages. Here are some of the frequently asked questions we receive:
Q: How long will my claim take?
A: If your injury is serious or takes some time to stabilise, we cannot settle the claim until we have final medical evidence. However, in straightforward cases where the injury settles quickly, we would hope to conclude the claim within 12 to 18 months of starting to act.
Q: I don't live near any of your offices, will I need to travel to see my solicitor?
A: No, we offer a nationwide service from our offices. Most of our correspondence with you will be by telephone, letter or email, but if necessary we can arrange to visit you at your home or at hospital.
Q: How much will it cost me to make a claim?
A: Most of our clients will need to obtain legal expense insurance in order to proceed with their claim. Your solicitor will advise you if this is necessary. Full information will be given to you by your legal expense insurer at the time of taking out insurance. At the conclusion of your successful claim the agreed premium will be deducted from damages. If you lose your claim and do not receive any damages, then it will cost you nothing. We only get paid when we successfully obtain damages for our clients, and then we receive our costs from the third party's insurer.
Q: My accident has been registered with the DWP as an industrial accident. Surely this means that my employers are at fault? How can they still deny liability?
A: It is always helpful to get the accident registered as an industrial accident, and this will also enable you to apply for Industrial Injuries Disablement benefit. However, any accident that happens at work can be registered as an industrial accident. It does not mean that the employers were at fault. To prove that they were at fault, we have to investigate the claim and show that their negligence or breach of a legal duty caused your accident.
Q: Can I get an interim payment?
A: In certain circumstances, if there is likely to be a long delay in finalising your case (because for example your medical condition has not stabilised) we can obtain from the defendants an interim payment for you. This is a payment on account, so it will be deducted from your final damages. We cannot request an interim payment until we have obtained medical evidence.
Q: All I lost was sick pay, why do I have to go to medical examinations?
A: If you pursue a claim for compensation, there are always two parts to the claim. One part is the financial losses and expenses that you have incurred and the other is for the injury itself. If you were to claim only for your lost sick pay, you would lose out on the injury part of the compensation. The medical report is needed to value the injury part of the claim.
Q: Should I always reject the first offer?
A: This really depends on the circumstances of each case. Your lawyer will advise you as he or she has the experience to know when negotiation will produce an improved offer.
Q: Can I bring another claim in the future if my injuries get worse?
A: Compensation payments are made in full and final settlement of your claim. All the effects of your accident are dealt with in one go. This means that you cannot reopen the case at any time in the future. This is why it is so important that we allow time for your injuries to stabilise before we settle the claim. In very rare specified circumstances, the court will award what is known as provisional damages. This means that you get an award of compensation now and the automatic right to return for more compensation in the future if you develop a certain specified medical condition. Only in very rare cases will provisional damages be awarded. We will advise you if it is possible for you to claim provisional damages.
Q: Is my compensation taxed?
A: No, lump-sum compensation for personal injury is tax-free.
Q: My claim has settled, how long will my cheque take?
A: About four to seven weeks — as soon as the cheque arrives at Bakers Solicitors, it will be processed and sent on to you. Unfortunately, often the insurance company takes some time to issue the cheque and there is little we can do to put pressure on them.
Q: One of my colleagues got a far bigger cheque for what seems to be a less serious injury, why?
A: The amount awarded in each case depends specifically upon the medical reports that have been obtained about the client's condition. Although it is easy to compare compensation awards, it is difficult to do so without seeing all the medical reports and the exact amount of your colleague's financial losses. The amounts awarded by the Courts for the injured party of the claim do vary from injury to injury. If your case does not settle, and has to go before the judge, and he or she will not be interested in hearing what one of your colleagues was awarded. Each case is valued on the evidence in that case.
Q: Do I have to repay Statutory Sick Pay?
A: No, however, the DWP benefits such as Incapacity Benefit and Industrial Injuries Disablement benefit do have to be repaid when the claim is successful. Particular rules govern which benefits have to be repaid and out of which part of your compensation. Your solicitor will ensure that you are advised about the amount of benefits to be repaid and the effect this will have on your compensation. Once the repayment has been made, no further benefits that you receive will have to be repaid.
Q: Will receiving compensation affect my benefits?
A: If you receive any means-tested DWP benefits (for example Income Support) and you receive any lump sum, such as a compensation award, you will have to tell the DWP and it will review whether you are eligible for the benefit.
There are ways to protect your ongoing benefits by putting the compensation into a trust and your solicitor will advise you whether this is appropriate in your case. Benefits that are not means-tested (such as Incapacity Benefit or Industrial Injuries Disablement benefit) are not affected in this way and you will continue to receive them for as long as you are medically entitled.
Q: I need advice regarding making a claim and how it may affect my government benefits?
A: Although your solicitor may be able to offer some advice regarding your benefits, we would recommend that you contact your local benefits office. Alternatively you can visit the UK government's website: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/index.htm or contact the Citizen's Advice Bureau: http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/benefits_e.htm
More Questions? Contact Us Directly.
Our personal injury solicitors are more than happy to talk through your questions and concerns about making a claim in a free consultation. Contact us on 01252 744600 or online to arrange an appointment.