As you may have heard, change is coming to the world of personal injury compensation.
Earlier this year an in depth report was published by Lord Justice Jackson providing a review of the level of civil litigation costs, which has prompted much consultation and debate involving the Ministry of Justice and members the legal profession.
It has been widely reported that there is a new process coming into place involving claims arising out of road traffic accidents where the likely compensation for personal injury is between £1000 and £10000. Many of the claims that we deal with at Lamb & Co fall within this category. Therefore, we are busy getting ready for the introduction of this new claims process which is due to take effect from 30th April 2010.
The majority of reports in the media have concentrated on the costs implications to solicitors and their practices and the logistics of incorporating the new process into our current system of working. Whilst we, as a firm, are of course making sure that we are ready to start using the new system, we feel it is important that you, our current and potential clients, are aware of how the new process will affect you.
One thing we should mention from the start is that the new rules and procedures will not affect any claims that are already in progress. Therefore, if you already have a current claim being dealt with by Lamb & Co your claim will continue to be dealt with in the same, smooth and efficient manner. However, it is important for you to be aware of the new process in case you are unfortunate enough to have another accident in the future and require our assistance once again.
The overriding aim of the new process is to streamline the existing claims process in order to deal with personal injury claims more quickly and efficiently. Whilst we already pride ourselves on the speed and efficiency with which we deal with personal injury claims, we welcome any changes which will enable us to streamline the process even further.
Under the current system, third party insurers have 21 days in which to acknowledge the initial letter of claim which we send to them by post at the beginning of a claim and then a potential 3 months in which to investigate liability and provide us with their decision as to whether or not they will accept responsibility on behalf of the negligent driver. Whilst we can use some of this time to substantiate your claim for personal injury by getting you medically examined and collecting evidence in relation to any financial losses you have suffered, we cannot take your claim to the next step towards settlement until this period of almost 4 months has elapsed.
Under the new process, the letter of claim and other major pieces of correspondence will be sent electronically to the third party insurance company through a secure electronic portal. This enables the insurers to receive the correspondence and have details of your claim straight away. The insurers then have 15 working days in which to make their decision in respect of liability. In other words, they must tell us within this timescale whether they intend to dispute liability or whether they are happy to accept that the accident was caused by the negligence of the third party.
Once the 15th working day arrives there are three possible outcomes. The insurers can admit liability, deny liability or fail to respond at all. If liability is denied or if the insurers fail to respond at all, the claim will “exit” the new process and we will continue to deal with the claim as we currently do. However, If liability is admitted then the claim remains within the new process and we will potentially be in a position to attempt settlement of your claim within a much shorter timescale. Once we have gathered all of the necessary evidence in support of your claim we will send it to the third party insurers with an offer in settlement of your claim. Again this will be done electronically to save time and to eliminate the risk of vital evidence going missing in the post. Under the new process, once the third party insurer has made an offer in settlement of your claim, even if it is too low and is rejected by you, they will have to pay you that amount within 14 days by way of an interim payment whilst we continue through the process to secure the best possible final settlement for you.
Whilst the processes may be changing, our commitment to our clients to obtain the maximum amount of compensation as quickly as possible remains unchanged. We will still continue to deal with your claim on a No Win, No Fee basis.
If you have had an accident, whether in a car, at work, or in a public place, please give us a call on 0151 632 2213 for free, impartial advice on making a claim. Please also visit our website www.lamb-law.co.uk to see what some our previous clients have to say.