What should a letter of claim for a personal injury claim contain?

The Pre-Action Protocol for Personal Injury Claims sets out details as to what a letter of claim for a personal injury claim should contain. The Pre-Action Protocol for Personal Injury Claims applies to all claims which include a claim for personal injury apart from medical negligence claims, disease or illness claims and low value personal injury claims arising out of road traffic accidents.

2 copies of the letter of claim should be sent to the Defendant. The second is for the Defendant to pass on to his insurers, where he is insured. Where the insurer is known, a copy of the letter of claim should be sent direct to the insurer.

What are the requirements of the Protocol?

The Protocol encourages Claimants to adopt the wording of the precedent letter of claim, which is annexed to the Protocol. In any event the letter of claim should include the following information:

Information about the Claimant

The letter of claim should contain the Claimant’s full name and address, his occupation, his employer’s name and address where he is employed and any clock or works number he may have.

Information about the claim

The letter of claim should contain sufficient information to substantiate a realistic claim and to enable the Defendant’s insurer and/or solicitor to commence investigations and form a broad view as to the “risk”. It should contain a clear summary of the facts together with an indication of the injuries suffered and of any financial loss incurred. In particular it should provide the following information: 

  • Details as to how the accident occurred;
  • The date and time of the accident;
  • Where the accident occurred.  The place of the accident should be sufficiently detailed to enable the Defendant to establish the location where it occurred;
  • Briefly, the reason why the Claimant alleges the accident was the Defendant’s fault;
  • Brief details of the Claimant’s injuries;
  • Details of any time taken off work as a result of the accident and the Claimant’s approximate weekly income, if known.

Special damages

The Claimant is expected to send the Defendant as soon as practicable a Schedule of Special Damages with supporting documents. This may accompany the letter of claim.

Road traffic accidents

Where the claim arises from a road traffic accident, the letter of claim should contain the name and address of the hospital where the Claimant was treated and, where available, the Claimant’s hospital reference number.

Funding arrangements

Any funding arrangements should be stated, for example, where the Claimant has entered into a conditional fee agreement. The date of the funding agreement should be stated and where appropriate it should be stated that there is a success fee and/or insurance premium. 
 

Where the funding arrangement is an insurance policy the following additional information should be provided: 

  • The name of the insurer;
  • The address of the insurer;
  • The policy number;
  • The date of the policy;
  • Identify the claim or claims to which it relates, for example, whether it relates to any counterclaim as well as to the claim.

Defendant’s insurer

The Claimant should request details of the Defendant’s insurer and ask that a copy of the letter be sent by the Defendant to his insurer, if he has one.  

Where the Defendant’s insurers are known the Claimant should confirm that a copy of the letter of claim has been sent direct to the insurers and should state their name, address and claims number if known.

Rehabilitation

If the Claimant is still suffering from the effects of his injury, the Defendant should be invited to participate with the Claimant in addressing his immediate needs by use of rehabilitation.

Documents

The Protocol encourages the parties to exchange information at an early stage and, therefore, the letter of claim may contain a request that the Defendant provide documentation relevant to the case.

Requests for information from employer Defendants

If the Defendant is the Claimant’s employer, details of the Claimant’s usual earnings should be requested to enable the Claimant to calculate his financial loss.

Request for contribution towards the cost of obtaining a police report

Where a police report was prepared the Claimant should obtain an undertaking from the Defendant to meet half the fee.

Date for acknowledging the letter of claim

The Claimant should indicate when it expects the Defendant or his insurers to acknowledge receipt of the letter of claim. Normally this will be within 21 days of the date of the letter of claim.