Check your Insurance Cover
Report the accident to your insurance company. Check if you have Comprehensive and Legal Expenses cover. Comprehensive cover means that you will be able to claim for the repair of your vehicle. However, this will mean that your No Claims Discount/Bonus may be affected until your Insurance company is able to re-claim all monies paid for the repair or write-off of your vehicle from the at fault party’s insurers.
Legal Expenses Cover
If you have this cover, advise your Insurance Company that you would like to make use of this cover to make a claim. They will then notify the relevant law firm they usually use and send instructions for them to contact you. You should usually get a letter in the post from the legal expenses law firm within 2 weeks of your notification. You will then have to complete a form with your details, details of what happened and what you will be claiming i.e. insurance policy excess, any property damage e.g. spectacles, mobile phone, car; or personal injury.
Once liability has been accepted by the third party insurers, the value of your claims will be negotiated between your legal expenses solicitors and the third party insurers.
If you do not have legal expenses cover, you will have to instruct your own solicitors to represent you and although their costs are recouped from the third party insurers, you may still have to bear responsibility for their disbursements. They may also charge you a success fee if you sign a Conditional Fee Agreement with your solicitors and this may be deducted from you settlement payment.
If you have the benefit of Comprehensive cover, it is usually recommended that you get your insurance company to repair your vehicle as soon as possible or compensate you accordingly if it needs to be written off. Most garages that insurers use provide courtesy cars whilst your vehicle is being repaired. If you decide to go into a private hire vehicle, be prepared for this claim to be challenged by the third party insurers especially if you hire a vehicle which is more extravagant than your original vehicle. You may also be challenged on the duration of the hire if it is unreasonable.
You will be legally bound to reimburse the car hire company for any unpaid charges that the third party insurers have successfully challenged due to the contract you signed when going into hire. Be wary of accident management and credit hire companies as such.
Dependent on the extent of your injury, this may take an average of 6 months to 2 years for this aspect of your claim to reach settlement. Minor soft tissue and/or whiplash injury claims may be settled quicker without the need of a medical report at both parties’ consent. Usually, the third party insurers are willing to offer the use of their physiotherapy provider or any other medical providers in order to aid with your recovery, which is in their best interests and also for the benefit of being able to access a copy of your report to give them an indication as to the extent of your injuries. If such rehabilitative treatments are agreed, you will not be expected to meet the treatment fees from the onset and these are invoiced directly to the third party insurers. Some insurers may even make you an offer of settlement based on these reports.
All personal injury claims will require one or more medico-legal reports in support. This will entail a general practitioner, or a medical expert in the relevant field to examine you at an appointment and provide an opinion as to your injuries and expected recovery period. This way, should your claim fail to settle amicably, the report may be used to support in support of your evidence of injuries. Medico-legal instructions can be jointly instructed by claimant solicitors and defendant insurers, in which case both parties cannot refuse to accept the medical evidence given by the expert at a later time, or instructed by your solicitors, or in certain circumstances, defendant insurers. Due to the busy schedule of medical experts, this process can take up to several months.
Offers will then be made by the third party insurers based on the medical report.
What happens if no settlement is reached?
Your legal expenses insurers will advise you and then with your consent, issue a Claim Form at Court depending on the value of your claim. Legal proceedings have thus been initiated. The third party insurers will then instruct their defendant solicitors to represent the third party as proceedings will be initiated in their name. Their solicitors may then continue negotiating with the goal of reaching settlement out of court.