making a road traffic accident claim

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1 W E L C O M E P A C K making a road traffic accident claim

2 T H A N K Y O U A N D W E L C O M E Thank you for instructing Colemans-ctts solicitors. We have been helping people claim compensation for over 25 years. We understand what it means to someone when they claim compensation, that s why we always aim to give you the highest levels of service, expertise and support the whole way through. You can be assured that we will always provide you with straightforward and expert advice whilst at the same time fighting on your behalf to get you the maximum compensation as quickly as possible. This welcome pack is intended to help you understand the process of making a claim and answer any questions you may have. We suggest that you read all of the information in this booklet and keep it somewhere safe. If you ever need to contact us about this or any other legal issue - now or in the future - we will be able to help you straight away. C O N T A C T D E T A I L S For all enquiries: telephone: web: offices: Kingston Upon Thames Manchester London Colemans-ctts LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA No ).

3 The Agreement M A K I N G A C L A I M The four steps to making a claim Valuing Your Claim S T E P 1 Read all the documents including the terms and conditions in the back of this booklet and once you are happy sign and return your no win, no fee GO TO MEDICAL APPOINTMENT SEND US RECEIPTS If requested, go to your medical appointment. Review the medical report to make 3 S T E P agreement. sure the facts are right and you are We have already started work on SIGN AND RETURN YOUR NO WIN, NO FEE AGREEMENT TODAY happy. Throughout the claim, remember to collect and send us any receipts for money you have lost or had to spend because of your injury. your case but the sooner we get this S T E P 2 back the sooner we can progress your claim. Admission of Fault AGREE THE VALUE GET COMPENSATION Your Compensation 4 S T E P The other side have three weeks to accept or deny that it was their fault SEND US PHOTOGRAPHS OF ANY VISIBLE INJURIES After we have received your medical report we will write to you with our valuation of your claim. that you were injured. Once we have agreed the value of your claim with you we will start to We will take care of this and keep you negotiate with the other side to get informed. you the maximum compensation.

4 S T E P 1 N O W I N, N O F E E Signing Your Agreement - Today On our initial call you gave us the information to complete and submit your Claims Notification Form (CNF) which started your claim. Included in this Welcome Pack is your Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). This is more commonly known as a no win, no fee agreement. This document is important because: It is the agreement that confirms we are acting for you. It makes sure you don t have to pay us any money up front - our payment only comes out of your award. YOUR BIT It is crucial that you read, sign and return this to us today in the stamped addressed envelope provided. SIGN AND RETURN THE AGREEMENT TODAY Make sure you read the details of the agreement as well as the terms and conditions in this booklet to understand what we need from you to be able to make a no win, no fee claim. Once happy, sign and return it to us today in one of the envelopes included with this pack. CHECKLIST Sign and return your CFA agreement in the envelope provided

5 S T E P 2 H A V E T H E Y A D M I T T E D F A U L T? Your Injuries and Admitting Liability - Week One to Week Three We may ask you to send us photos of any visible injuries you sustained in the accident, e.g. scarring, cuts or bruises and of anything else that could help your case e.g. the location of where the incident took place. The next stage is to find out whether the other side admit that your injury was their fault - this is known as admitting or denying liability. Our team will request that the insurers of the other side either admit or deny liability. They have three weeks to respond to our request. This usually happens, but on some occasions it can CHECKLIST take longer. Our team will keep you informed so you know exactly where your case is up to. If they admit it is the other driver s fault we can move straight onto Step 3 of your claim. If they don t admit liability don t worry, we know exactly what to do. There are a number of options in this situation and one of our lawyers will be in touch about next steps of your claim. SEND US PHOTOGRAPHS OF ANY VISIBLE INJURIES YOUR BIT Send photographs of any visible injuries you sustained (if requested)

6 S T E P 3 V A L U I N G Y O U R C L A I M Week Three to Week Six There are two parts to determining how Your medical will: Recovering Your Losses: Special Damages It is vital that you keep a record of your much your claim is worth: losses as you go and send us a copy of Identify and document the injury you As a result of your accident you may have already all the receipts as soon as you can. It will 1. The compensation you are suffered. incurred specific expenses and/or losses and you slow down your case and may be difficult eligible to receive for your Help assess the value of your injury may incur additional future losses. to recover your costs if you don t. To help, injuries (General Damages). claim. Things to consider are: we have included a handy form to fill in as 2. The compensation for specific losses such as lost earnings (Special Damages). Valuing your Injuries: General Damages In order to make an assessment of Assess if you need any treatment to help you recover and how much this will cost. Shortly after the medical appointment (usually about two weeks) we receive the report detailing your injuries and a Loss of earnings if you had to take time off work or are self-employed (your employer may need to sign the enclosed Form of Authority) Extra transport costs (petrol, parking, taxis etc.) Prescription and treatment charges you go, as well as an envelope to keep all your receipts in and then return to us when we need them. Please keep a copy for your own records. As long as your losses are reasonable and can be attributed to your accident we your injuries we will arrange for you to prognosis. The team will then assess Excess charge on your insurance or will be able to recover these for you. If you be contacted by experts from a medical the value and write to you our opinion on vehicle repairs aren t sure what you can claim for, just agency. Please see the suppliers list in this Welcome Pack for more information. They will organise an appointment with you to have your injuries assessed. This will be approximately three weeks from when you contacted us. We wait three weeks so that your injuries have time to become evident and so that we don t miss anything. making an offer. You then need to confirm that you are happy with the offer we propose. You should also check the report and notify us if it s not a true reflection of your injuries. CHECKLIST Attend your medical appointment Review the report, sign and return it to us Provide your employer with the Form of Authority (if required) CHECKLIST Physiotherapy, medical treatment and other medical expenses Cost of care - costs incurred by others looking after you Clothing and any other damaged items Save all your receipts and complete your Receipt Tracker as your claim progresses. Keep everything in the envelope provided Send us your Receipt Tracker form along with all your receipts ask. And don t forget - it will be difficult to claim it back if you don t have the receipt. HAVE YOUR MEDICAL APPOINTMENT YOUR BIT SAVE & SEND US ALL YOUR RECEIPTS

7 S T E P 4 Y O U R C O M P E N S A T I O N Week Twelve Throughout the entire process our job is to represent you and get you the best compensation possible. When the time comes we will negotiate with the other side on your behalf to make sure this happens. How it works:- Our team of experienced lawyers will keep you informed throughout and fight to get the best possible outcome. If the other side don t play ball we are highly skilled in negotiating - that s how we win the compensation you deserve as quickly as possible. We agree in advance what you are happy to receive based on all the evidence, the value of your claim and the opinion of the team. We send the other side an offer. The other side will either accept the valuation or come back with a counter offer. If their offer falls within the range we agreed with you we will accept it and your payment will be on the way. Otherwise we negotiate until we reach a settlement or go to court. Whilst we estimate a straightforward claim will take around twelve weeks, it may be longer depending on the nature of your injury. We will always try to keep you informed should the time scales of your case change. We will balance speed and the best outcome for you. If your injuries are more serious this may take longer. RECEIVE YOUR COMPENSATION YOUR BIT

8 G E T T I N G I N C O N T A C T In our introductory telephone call we talked you through the process of making a claim. At key stages our team will be in contact to let you know where the claim is up to and what the next steps will be. They will arrange everything and let you know when they need something. If at any stage you need to speak to us we are always happy to help. You can contact your personal file handler directly or visit our website: We also provide a number of other legal services for you, your friends and family or your business including: If at any point the other side contact you directly you should immediately inform us. If they try to settle your case it could have repercussions and you may not get the compensation you deserve. CONVEYANCING WILLS AND PROBATE LANDLORD AND TENANT EMPLOYMENT DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROFESSIONAL NEGLIGENCE PERSONAL INJURY TRAVEL CLAIMS

9 T E R M S A N D C O N D I T I O N S O F Y O U R C O N T R A C T ( C F A ) Our full Client Care Information is at co.uk/ate. We can provide information this information to you in a number of formats. Please contact us if you have any specific needs. Conditional Fee Agreement We have agreed to deal with your case under a Conditional Fee Agreement ( no win, no fee agreement). The Conditional Fee Agreement document sets out the percentage of your damages that you may have to pay towards our success fee. The conditional fee agreement is not a contentious business agreement within the terms of the Solicitors Act Your Obligations You must: Give us instructions that allow us to do our work properly; Not ask us to work in an improper or unreasonable way; Not mislead us; Co-operate with us; Go to any appointment, meeting, mediation, court hearing or other appointment we ask you to attend; Give us any documents, information or other evidence that we ask for when we ask for them; Preserve all documents (including electronic documents) which might be needed for the proceedings (this includes documents which might help your case and documents which might help your opponent s case. Make sure that we can always contact you and that you provide us with up to date contact details for you if these change; Not try to reach any settlement or agreement directly with your opponent or contact them whilst we are instructed; Not do anything which would prejudice your claim (including making a settlement in any related proceedings) without our authority; Permit us to issue Court proceedings if we believe that issuing Court proceedings is necessary to resolve your case; Not exaggerate your case or instruct us to claim sums which cannot be justified by clear evidence; Not put any information or material into the public domain (particularly on social networking sites) which may affect your case; At all times act proportionately and in accordance with the section on Proportionality, fixed costs and co-operating with us on the next page. What Do I Pay If I Win? If you win your claim you are liable to pay our basic charges, our disbursements and a success fee. The Government changed the law (in April 2013) so that you cannot recover the success fee from your opponent. You pay the success fee yourself if you win your claim. The success fee (including VAT) is capped at 25% of your Damages. This is set out under the heading Success Fee including how the success fee is calculated. What Do I Pay If I Lose? If you lose, you do not pay our Costs. You pay your own disbursements. You may be able to take out an insurance policy against the risk of paying your own disbursements. You do not pay the opponent s costs unless you lose the protection of Qualified One Way Costs Shifting. You may be able to take out an insurance policy against this risk. Basic Charges These are for work done from the date of our first contact with you until this agreement ends, and are subject to review. They are calculated for each hour engaged on your matter. Routine letters and telephone calls will be charged as units of one tenth of an hour. Other letters and telephone calls will be charged on a time basis. The hourly rates are: Partners: 400 per hour Grade A or 1 (Solicitors and Legal Executives with over 8 years experience after qualification): 300 per hour Grade B or 2 (Solicitors and Legal Executives with over four years experience after qualification): 250 per hour Grade C or 3 (Other solicitors, Legal Executives and staff of equivalent experience): 200 per hour Grade D or 4 (Paralegals, Trainee Solicitors, Trainee Legal Executives and other staff of equivalent experience): 175 per hour We review the hourly rates in January each year and we will notify you of any changes in writing. If the case is one to which fixed costs apply, our basic charges will be the greater of the fixed costs or the costs calculated on the basis set out above. Disbursements Disbursements are the payments we make on your behalf such as Court fees, Barristers fees (if the Barrister is not on a Conditional Fee Agreement), Experts fees, Accident report fees or Travel expenses. Estimates of disbursements in a typical personal injury case where damages are under 15,000 are: General practitioner and Hospital Records: per set Medical report from a General Practitioner: Medical report from a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon: If Court proceedings are required Court fees will be payable. Please note that the above are estimates only. The figures exclude VAT. Success Fee The Conditional Fee Agreement sets out the maximum amount of the success fee. Damages for future loss (like future loss of earnings or future care) are not taken into account in the calculation. Sums repayable to the Compensation Recovery Unit (for benefits received as a consequence of your injury) are also excluded from the calculation. Example:- Your settlement is: 10,000 which is made up of 2,500 General Damages for pain suffering and loss of amenity, 2,000 for past loss of earnings, 500 for past care and 5,000 future loss of earnings (the figures are examples and are not intended to have any bearing to your actual claim). You have received deductible state benefits of 1,000 which are repayable to the Compensation Recovery Unit. The success fee in this example is assumed to be 25% of Damages. Our success fee in this example is 833 ( + VAT of 167 = 1,000 gross). This is calculated on a figure of 4,000 ( 2,500 General Damages + 2,000 past loss of earnings past care - 1,000 repayable to the CRU. The future loss of earnings are not taken into account). Appeals are relatively rare. If there is an Appeal we will notify you and set out a separate success fee for the Appeal. The success fee is set at 100% of your Basic Charges subject to the overall cap of 25% of Damages. Procedure on Settlement You agree to pay into a designated account any cheque received by you or by us from your opponent and made payable to you. Out of the money, you agree to let us take the sums due to us. You take the rest. We are allowed to keep any interest your opponent pays on costs and disbursements. Gross Settlements If your claim includes claims for future losses and your opponent makes an offer of settlement but refuses to break down the offer, we will set out our best analysis of the breakdown of the settlement between past and future loss so that we can calculate the success fee. We will do so by reference to the other documents prepared in the case and explain our calculation. It is not possible to be completely accurate in this assessment (for example because there is a range of possible values for General Damages and other risk factors may apply to specific parts of your claim). We have a professional duty to treat you fairly and this will apply to our assessment. If you think our analysis of the breakdown is wrong you can ask us to look at it again. If you still think it is wrong you can ask us to instruct an independent barrister to advise on the breakdown. You pay the cost of the barrister as a disbursement. This may be recoverable from the opponent depending on the type of case and the circumstances of the settlement. Value Added Tax (VAT) VAT is payable on our charges at 20% or such other rate as may be in force at the relevant time. Our VAT Number is Interim Damages, Interim Hearings, Provisional Damages and Interest If you receive interim damages, we may require you to pay part of the Success Fee on account. We may also require you to pay our disbursements at that point as well as a reasonable amount for our future disbursements. If on the way to winning or losing you are awarded any costs, by agreement or by court order, then we are entitled to payment of those costs and to retain these costs whether or not you go on to win your claim. We are allowed to keep any interest your opponent pays on the costs or disbursements. If you receive provisional damages, we are entitled to payment of our basic charges and disbursements at that point. We are also entitled to payment of the success fee at that point in respect of the provisional damages. Proportionality, Fixed Costs and Co-operating with Us The costs which we can recover from your opponent are limited by the Court rules on costs, which are proportionate or in some cases the costs we can recover from your opponent are fixed. This means that it is very important that: You give us information promptly when we ask you for information; You respond promptly to any correspondence from us; You limit your communications with us to those which are necessary for us to progress your case. There will be times during the case when we have to wait for things to happen which are outside our control and you must be patient. We will tell you when there are material developments; You do not ask us to investigate issues or pursue parts of a case which have no reasonable prospect of success or are not supported by clear evidence; You agree to let us disclose expert evidence which has been obtained if we recommend that an expert s report is disclosed. Experts are independent from us and their duty is to the Court. They have to form their own objective opinion which you may not always agree with. We cannot tell experts what opinions they should give; You give us Authority to deal with the main issues which arise; You follow our advice about settling your case; You follow our advice about whether to pursue particular parts of your case; You follow our advice about tactics to adopt. In turn we will try to limit the basic charges to the amount we can recover from your opponent. If you do not keep to your obligations as set out above we reserve the right to charge the full costs we have incurred even if these exceed the costs recoverable from your opponent. Fixed costs cases are generally those cases where the damages are likely to be less than 25,000. In all cases we need to act proportionately. Terminating the Conditional Fee Agreement Paying us if you end the agreement You can end the agreement at any time. We then have the right to decide whether you must:- Pay our basic charges and our disbursements including barristers fees but not the success fee when we ask for them; or Pay our basic charges, and our disbursements including barristers fees and success fees if you go on to win your claim for damages. Paying us if we end the agreement (a) We can end the agreement if you do not keep to your obligations. We then have the right to decide whether you must:- Pay our basic charges and our disbursements including barristers fees but not the success fee when we ask for them; or Pay our basic charges and our disbursements including barristers fees and success fees if you go on to win your claim for damages. (b) We can end the agreement if we believe you are unlikely to win. If this happens, you will only have to pay our disbursements. These may be able to be claimed under the insurance policy. These will include barristers fees if the barrister does not have a conditional fee agreement with us. (c) We can end the agreement if you reject our opinion about making a settlement with your opponent. You must then: Pay the basic charges and our disbursements, including barristers fees; Pay the success fee if you go on to win your claim for damages. If you ask us to get a second opinion from a specialist solicitor outside our firm, we will do so. You pay the cost of a second opinion. (d) We can end this agreement if you do not pay your disbursements or insurance premium when asked to do so. Death This agreement automatically ends if you die before your claim for damages is concluded. We will be entitled to recover our basic charges up to the date of your death from your estate. If your personal representatives wish to continue your claim for damages, we may offer them a new Conditional Fee Agreement, as long as they agree to pay the success fee on our basic charges from the beginning of the agreement with you. Complaints Procedure We are committed to providing high quality legal advice and client care to all our clients. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received or about a bill for our fees please refer in the first instance to the person dealing with your file. At that stage we will send you a copy of our Complaints Procedure. Alternatively, you may request a copy of our Complaints Procedure at any time. If you are not satisfied with the way we handle your complaint you can contact the Legal Ombudsman at PO Box 15870, Birmingham B30 9EB, tel , The Legal Ombudsman can deal with individuals or certain charities, clubs or microbusinesses. Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint. The Legal Ombudsman may also consider complaints within six years of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or if outside of this period, within three years of when you should reasonably have been aware of it). Qualified One Way Costs Shifting When may I be liable to pay the Opponent s Costs? Qualified One Way Costs Shifting (which we refer to as QOCS ) applies to personal injury cases only. It is designed to limit the circumstances when you might be liable to pay your opponent s costs. If you lose (i.e. recover no damages) you will not be ordered to pay any costs to the opponents unless: the Court finds that you have been fundamentally dishonest; the Court strikes out your claim because it discloses no reasonable cause of action, it is an abuse of process or because your conduct (or that of someone authorised on your behalf and with your knowledge) is likely to obstruct the just disposal of the proceedings. The Court will hold a hearing to determine whether one of these exceptions applies. If you win some damages and the opponents are awarded some costs (for example if you fail to win more in damages than a Part 36 offer made by the opponent), they can deduct their costs from those damages but you will not have to pay more than the amount you are awarded unless an exception applies.

10 G l o s s a r y Advocacy Basic charges Claim Claims Notification Form (CNF) Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) Counterclaim Costs CRU Damages Disbursements (or Our Disbursements) Future Loss General Damages Gross settlement Interim damages Interim hearing Lien Lose Part 36 offer Past Loss Provisional damages Qualified one way costs shifting or QOCS Special Damages Success fee Trial We, Us, Our Win Appearing for you at court hearings. Our charges for the legal work we do on your claim for damages. Your claim as set out on the covering letter of this Welcome Pack. The form we completed after our initial telephone call which started your claim. This is more commonly known as a no win, no fee agreement. A claim that your opponent makes against you in response to your claim. Our basic charges and success fee. Compensation Recovery Unit. If you have received state benefits your opponent has to pay these back to the government. Money that you win whether by a court decision or settlement. When calculating the success fee, we take into account your general damages and damages for past losses only. Damages for future losses such as future loss of earnings or future care are not taken into account. Amounts repayable to the Compensation Recovery Unit are also excluded from our calculation. Payments we make on your behalf such as Court fees, Barristers fees, Experts fees or Accident report fees. Claims for Future Loss are claims for losses which have not yet been incurred at the point when a settlement is agreed or when the Court gives judgment. Examples include items such as future loss of earnings or future care needs. The damages agreed or awarded for pain, suffering and the injury itself. A settlement or award which is not broken down into separate elements. Money that a court says your opponent must pay or your opponent agrees to pay while waiting for a settlement or the court s final decision. A court hearing that is not final. Our right to keep all papers, documents, money or other property held on your behalf until all money due to us is paid. A lien may be applied after this agreement ends. The court has dismissed your claim or you have stopped it on our advice. An offer to settle your claim made in accordance with Part 36 of the Civil Procedure Rules. This is an offer which has consequences if you reject it. We will advise you at the time any offer is made. The part of the damages for actual losses which have already been incurred at the point when a settlement is agreed or when the Court gives judgment. Examples include items such as past loss of earnings or past care needs. Money that a court says your opponent must pay or your opponent agrees to pay, on the basis that you will be able to go back to court at a future date for further damages if: you develop a serious disease; or your condition deteriorates; in a way that has been proven or admitted to be linked to your personal injury claim. Provisional damages claims are rare. The Civil Procedure Rules dealing with Qualified One Way Costs Shifting in personal injury cases. The compensation for specific losses such as lost earnings, extra travel expenses, medical treatments etc. Your share of the cost of running your successful claim. See Success Fee section of the terms and conditions. The final contested hearing or the contested hearing of any issue to be tried separately and a reference to a claim concluding at trial includes a claim settled after the trial has commenced or a judgment. Colemans-ctts LLP. Your claim for damages is decided in your favour whether by a court decision or an agreement to pay you damages or you recover damages or in any way that you derive benefit from pursuing the claim.

11 colemans ctts Kingston Office High Street Kingston upon Thames Surrey KT1 1LL t Manchester Office 100 Talbot Road Manchester M16 0PG t London Office 182 High Street Acton London W3 9NN t e wwwcolemans-ctts.co uk Colemans-ctts LLP Colemans-ctts LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales, registered under OC Colemans-ctts LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA No ). 5.1WP0913ATE

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