Road Traffic Collision. Personal Legal Services

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1 Road Traffic Collision Personal Legal Services

2 This information relates to the law and procedures in England and Wales. Please contact us if you need advice about the law and procedure in other legal jurisdictions. I am writing on behalf of all my family and myself, to thank you for all the hard work and difficulties you dealt with on our behalf. We are really most grateful for all your efforts and compassionate understanding of our worries and hope you will convey our thanks to all your staff! - Ellen 2

3 Our experienced road traffic collision team understand the issues affecting you and will help you get the compensation you deserve, however serious your injuries are. Introduction We have helped thousands of people claim compensation following all kinds of road traffic collisions including: Multi-vehicle accidents Head, brain and spinal injury claims Accidents involving uninsured drivers and hit and run drivers Motorcycling accidents Cycling accidents Public transport accidents (including buses, trams and taxis) Accidents involving children Fatal road accidents Claims for whiplash. If you ve been involved in a road traffic collision, our friendly professional staff will offer expert advice on compensation, rehabilitation and on-going health issues. We can help you get back to work, access medical support and care and apply for early compensation payments if you need immediate help with treatment or adjustments to your home. 3

4 Why use Irwin Mitchell? Irwin Mitchell is one of the largest and most experienced personal injury law firms in the country. Our reputation for helping families suffering from road traffic injuries is second to none and every year we recover millions of pounds of compensation for people who have been injured in this way. Our service Our highly specialised team combines powerful legal arguments with care and consideration to ensure the best possible outcome for you. Our friendly professional service includes: Seeing you at a place convenient for you An early investigation of who is to blame for your injuries Early compensation payments where possible to pay for private healthcare, rehabilitation and for bills if you can t work Expert advice on state benefits, employment rights and other financial issues Help if you need it from solicitors in our other departments, such as financial planning, personal injury trusts, wills advice and power of attorney. How can we help? We see the devastating effects of road traffic collisions every day. That s why we re dedicated to improving conditions for road users and victims of road traffic collisions across the UK. Our groundbreaking support for people with serious injury has been recognised many times. We have won many awards for our work with clients with serious injuries including the Post Magazine s Rehabilitation Award for Claimant Solicitors in four consecutive years. 4

5 Campaign for improvements Our aim is to help prevent collisions wherever possible. We have a long history of campaigning for improvements in road traffic management. We aim to improve the quality of life and levels of compensation for people who have been injured by road traffic collisions. Industry experts As corporate members of Roadpeace and Brake, the leading road safety charities, we are often asked to comment on road safety issues in the national and regional media. We also deliver training to Police Family Liaison Officers and are accredited by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). In addition, we are sponsors and fund raisers for several leading road safety charities and support groups - with a large number of our team volunteering their skills at national, local and individual level. 5

6 When can I make a claim? Road traffic collision claims usually need to be made within three years of the incident that caused the injury. Variations Time limits do not start for children until their 18th birthday. In cases involving people with very severe injuries, a court can decide that the normal time limits will not apply. Where the injuries are caused by criminal assault, the time limit for making a claim may also be different. When road traffic collisions happen outside England and Wales time limits may vary and be less. The sooner you contact us the better we are able to prepare your claim and the greater your chances of winning will be. Do I have a case? If you are unsure whether you have a claim, you or a family member just need to pick up the phone and talk it over with us. We ll assess your case free of charge, tell you what we think and then you can decide if you want to go ahead. We can also offer a Free Legal Health Check if you already have an on-going personal injury case with another lawyer and you have concerns about how your case is being managed. We are frequently asked to take over cases for clients who have not received the level of service that they expected. In these situations a lack of experience of dealing with specialist cases can lead to significant delays, a failure to obtain important interim payments and the possibility that cases are undervalued. This can mean that you miss out on the opportunity to take advantage of targeted rehabilitation and fail to receive all of the care, therapy and equipment that you need in order to obtain the best quality of life that is possible post your injury. It is OK to seek a second opinion from another solicitor or barrister and changing your legal representation should not cost you anything. What are my chances of winning? We have a long track record of winning compensation cases where people initially thought they did not have a claim. When you contact us we will give you realistic advice on the chances of winning based on the information you provide. It is not possible to give a definitive answer on any case. However, the more information we have the more accurate an assessment we can make. 6

7 How much will it cost? Don t worry about legal costs. Contacting us for initial advice on your claim will cost you nothing even our phone number is free to call. If we advise you to pursue a claim with us, we will review all the options for funding it. Options for funding your claim There are a number of ways in which you could fund your case. These include: Conditional Fee Agreement, commonly known as a No Win No Fee agreement Legal Expenses Insurance as part of your household or car insurance you may have legal expenses cover to help with any legal costs Trade Union if you are a member of a trade union they may provide assistance for some legal issues. New Legislation The Government introduced some changes to how legal costs and funding for personal injury claims will work from 1 April Due to these changes you will no longer be able to recover all of your legal costs from your opponent. Whilst all of your legal costs can no longer be recovered from your opponent, it is likely that you will still recover the substantial majority of your basic legal costs. If you do not have access to legal expenses insurance or trade union assistance, your best option is to consider a No Win No Fee agreement. Even if you do have access to other funding options, a No Win No Fee agreement may still be the best option for you. When we discuss your claim in more detail we will tell you if the No Win No Fee option is available or if we need to look at the other funding options above. 7

8 How a No Win No Fee agreement can work for you If after reviewing all of the funding options with you and we recommend that our No Win No Fee agreement in combination with an insurance policy designed to protect you is your best option, you can be reassured that there is no financial risk to you if you are unsuccessful*. If you win: Your opponent will pay the majority of our basic legal costs and disbursements (e.g. court fees, medical reports) If you win, any costs not payable by your opponent will include: The premium for your insurance policy to protect you fully against any risk of legal costs Some of your basic legal costs which cannot be recovered from your opponent A success fee which compensates us for the risk that if it was unsuccessful then we would not recover any legal fees at all If you win, you won t have to pay a penny out of your own pocket until your claim has successfully come to an end and then any of the costs not paid by your opponent will be deducted from any compensation awarded to you If any disbursements cannot be recovered from your opponent these will be covered by your insurance policy There are no hidden costs. You will receive regular updates about the costs being charged to your case and any costs not recovered from your opponent will be deducted from any compensation awarded to you To help you with your legal costs, the Government has provided a 10% increase in the amount awarded to you for your pain, suffering and loss of amenity. * Subject to entering into a No Win No Fee agreement in conjunction with our Allianz Litigate insurance policy and complying with your responsibilities under its terms. 8

9 If you lose: We can promise you, there is no financial risk to you if your claim is unsuccessful* You won t have to pay a penny out of your own pocket whilst your claim is being pursued We would make no charge whatsoever to you You will be fully covered by your insurance policy for any disbursements You will be fully protected by your insurance policy from any of your opponent`s legal costs There are no hidden costs. You will receive regular updates about the costs at key stages throughout your case so you are fully aware of the charges involved. If unsuccessful there is no financial risk to you.* We will do everything we can to protect and support you to proceed with your claim and we will keep you updated at all times. Remember, there is absolutely no financial risk to you or your family if you are unsuccessful.* 9

10 How much compensation will I get? The amount of compensation you receive will depend on the seriousness of your injury, how it has affected your life, how much money you have lost or will lose as a consequence and whether you will need extra support in the future. Individually assessed We will advise you at the outset on how your opponent`s insurers and the courts approach the assessment of compensation and how that will apply to your case. However, it is important to bear in mind that everyone is different and the consequences of the same injury in terms of working life and home-life will vary from person to person. Keeping you informed As we learn more about you and your circumstances, we will be able to provide you with a more accurate idea of the financial value of your claim. You can be assured that we will do everything we can to recover the maximum amount of compensation available to you. We will also advise on the best payment terms to suit your immediate and ongoing needs. As well as securing financial compensation, we will help you and your family with the practical issues and day to day impact of your injury as well as helping you to get access to the best medical care and rehabilitation. 10

11 What happens when I claim? Once you have instructed us to claim on your behalf, we will investigate your case thoroughly by gathering witness statements and other relevant details about your injury and on-going requirements. Insurance As soon as we have all the details of your case, a claim will be made against the relevant person or company, who usually have insurance. We will then wait for a response from the insurance company you are claiming against. This can go one of two ways - either they decide to meet your claim or they do not. Out of court The vast majority of cases are settled before they go to court. However, if your case is one of the few that is to be decided by a judge do not worry. This is perfectly normal and we will be there to help you every step of the way. Don t worry if an insurance company turns down your claim at first as this often happens - it does not mean that your claim will fail. If the other person or company does not have insurance, don t worry there are schemes that cover uninsured or untraced drivers. 11

12 What happens when someone dies? If a member of your family is killed in a road traffic collision you may be able to claim compensation. Inquest When someone is killed in a road traffic collision an inquest will be held to establish four facts: the identity of the person who died, where this happened, when it happened and the reason for their death. An inquest may be opened and adjourned immediately if the police are investigating the collision. Any criminal proceedings that follow may also have an impact on whether the inquest actually resumes or not. Family members of the deceased can attend an inquest and as they are formal, it is best to attend along with your solicitor so that they can explain what is happening and ask questions on your behalf. Irwin Mitchell has many specialist advocates who can represent you at an inquest. Compensation If a family member, your spouse or partner you are living with dies in a road traffic collision you may be able to claim compensation. The amount awarded will be based on how dependent you were on the person who died. For help navigating this complex area of law call one of our friendly professional staff today. Bereavement award There is a standard government bereavement award of 11,800. We realise that this is not very much, particularly in cases where young children are involved, which is why we are campaigning to increase levels of compensation in cases of this nature. In addition to the bereavement payment, funeral and associated costs can also be recovered within this claim. We will advise you clearly on your entitlements and support you through the process. 12

13 Is it true that? There are lots of myths about why you might not be able to claim compensation for a road traffic collision don t let any of the following put you off. Common myths about road traffic collisions The police did not prosecute so there can t be any compensation claim. The MIB will appoint an insurance company to deal with the claim as if they were the insurers of the driver at the time of the collision. If you win a claim under any of the above circumstances you will get full compensation and full payment of your legal costs. This is not true. There are many circumstances where there is insufficient evidence for the police to prosecute for a criminal offence but there is sufficient evidence to bring a civil claim for compensation. These issues are dealt with in different courts and there are different thresholds for proving the claim. Therefore never assume that because there is no criminal charges that there is no claim for compensation. The driver was uninsured so how can I progress a claim? In every situation where someone is injured or killed in a road traffic collision involving a vehicle, whether it is insured or not, an innocent party will be able to pursue a claim. There are three possibilities: If the driver is insured a claim can be brought against them and will be dealt with by his or her insurance company If the driver is uninsured but there is a valid Policy of Insurance for the vehicle that was involved in the collision, that insurance company has to deal with any claim brought by another person as if the driver was insured If neither the driver nor the car has any valid insurance a claim has to be brought against the Motor Insurers Bureau [MIB] under the Uninsured Driver Agreement. The driver did not stop and I haven t been able to trace them so there is nothing that I can do Not true. The MIB has another scheme, the Untraced Driver s Agreement, which allows you to pursue a claim against an untraced driver. It is a little more limited than the Uninsured Driver s Agreement and therefore, whilst compensation can be awarded, there are limits on the amount of costs that can be recovered. I was not wearing a seat belt so it s all my fault Not wearing a seat belt can mean you are considered to have contributed towards your own injuries during a road traffic collision. However, if the incident was not your fault, you will still be awarded compensation. In many cases, the failure to wear a seat belt will result in more serious injuries. If this is the case, you could lose up to 25% of the compensation you would have received if you had been wearing a seat belt. However, if it is determined that the failure to wear a seat belt had no relevance to the severity of your injuries nothing should be lost from the value of your claim. 13

14 The car was being driven by a family member/my spouse so I cannot claim against them The relationship you have with the driver is irrelevant. If they are responsible for the collision and drove negligently, there is no legal reason why you cannot pursue a claim. An insurance company will deal with the claim in exactly the same way as if you were injured by a stranger - any restrictions are therefore from an emotional point of view rather than a legal one. I knew the driver was drunk or under the influence of drugs at the time so I cannot claim Knowledge of the competency of your driver is a relevant consideration that the courts will consider. However, there are many occasions when even in circumstances where a driver has taken alcohol or drugs, a claim can still be pursued. Legal advice should always be taken in these circumstances and we will always give you an honest, straightforward opinion. The driver was foreign and was insured through a foreign insurance company/the collision occurred abroad. How do I progress a claim? Whilst it can be more complicated to pursue a claim against a foreign driver or for an accident that happened abroad, it is possible. Early legal advice is recommended in these circumstances given that different countries have different timescales within which to bring to claim. My solicitor was great when I moved house and/ or made my will so they will know what to do for my road traffic collision won t they? Many solicitors now specialise in a particular area of work and whatever legal advice you are looking for, you should always ensure that your solicitor has the necessary experience and expertise to advise you properly. This is even more important in circumstances where you are seriously injured. Someone who is not a specialist may well miss opportunities to access an early admission of liability, early access to interim payment funds and fail to maximise the compensation recovered. Always make sure that you make a full enquiry as to the expertise of the solicitor that you intend to proceed with and always remember that you can take a second opinion. I did take advice at the time of the road traffic collision and was told that there was no claim. I now think that advice was wrong but can I do anything about it? Just like any other professional, solicitors can get it wrong. If you are no longer able to pursue a claim that was valid because of the advice that you received from a solicitor, then you can make a claim against that solicitor and recover compensation that would otherwise have been awarded following the road traffic accident. Solicitors are required by their professional body to carry insurance to cover such claims and therefore you should have no qualms in pursuing this opportunity if it is available to you. Making a claim against a solicitor is a specialist area and you should ensure that you go to an appropriate specialist who has experience in professional negligence claims we would be pleased to help you in these circumstances. 14

15 What else can we help you with? We don t just specialise in road traffic collisions and claiming compensation. Irwin Mitchell has dedicated teams working in all areas of personal legal services, enabling us to deliver quick and efficient legal advice on anything from settling family disputes and wills or buying a house. Our ability to offer clients a wide range of such specialism under one roof is one of the key benefits of our services. Whatever your legal issue our specialist staff will be pleased to help you sort it out all you need to do is pick up the phone and give us call Our friendly professional staff give straightforward honest advice in all areas of personal legal services including: Divorce, children and family matters Buying or selling a house Wills, trust and probate services Personal injury or illness Questioning social, education and health care provision Support on making decisions about personal welfare and healthcare matters and how the Court of Protection can assist Employment difficulties Financial planning including tax and trusts Planning or environmental decisions. To talk to a specialist advisor today simply call free on: or visit: you can also follow us on 15

16 Useful contacts Brake PO Box 548 Huddersfield HD1 2XZ Helpline: Telephone: Website: Cruse Beareavement Care PO Box 800 Richmond Surrey TW9 1RG Telephone: Website: Department for Transport Great Minster House 33 Horseferry Road London SW1P 4DR RoadPeace Shakespeare Business Centre 245a Coldharbour Lane Brixton London SW9 8RR Telephone: Website: Helpline: ROSPA ROSPA House 28 Calthorpe Road Edgbaston Birmingham B15 1RP Telephone: Website: Telephone: Website: 16

17 Notes

18 Notes

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20 Freephone For a list of our offices visit our website To see a list of our offices please visit our website. Irwin Mitchell LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. PLS-PI-M-0001-B

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