When you or a family member has suffered a serious injury, choosing a solicitor or even finding out if you need a solicitor is not usually one of the things most people are thinking about in the early days following an accident. It is a time of shock and upset and sometimes you can even be told by the police or senior clinicians you wouldn’t have a claim.

It is always worth an early conversation with a specialist solicitor to find out if you could bring a claim. With serious injuries, there are often life-long effects and changes to your life and that of your families, such as future care costs and loss of earnings, so it is always worth talking to an experienced and specialist solicitor to get the right advice.

Interesting facts:

  • Police often only investigate an accident if there has been a fatality or there could have been. This doesn’t mean you don’t have a claim.
  • Not wearing a seatbelt may reduce your compensation by up to 25%, but you can still claim.
  • Where there is no insurance in place, it can be more difficult to bring a claim. If your claim involved an uninsured or unidentified driver you may still be able to claim against the motor insurers’ bureau.
  • A serious injury cases can often take 2-3 years to settle.
  • A solicitor may instruct a Health and Safety expert to investigate if your accident has happened at work, and an accident reconstruction expert to investigate if you were involved in a road traffic accident etc. These experts are often needed to establish liability.

In a serious injury claim, you need to show that your accident was more likely than not someone else’s fault. One party has to be at least 51% responsible, meaning even if you were partly to blame you can still claim.

Choosing your solicitor following a serious injury

You can and should always choose your own solicitor. Following an accident, you can often be allocated a solicitor by your insurance company, but it is advisable to meet at least three specialist solicitors to make sure they have the correct experience. It is also important that you like and trust them, as you will be working with them for a few years.

Charities such as Headway and SIA have a register of solicitors they recommend, who are specialist in handling cases involving brain or spinal injuries.

You could also look at the Legal 500 and Chambers Guide, which provides a comprehensive list of recommended law firms and individuals.

It is advisable to choose a solicitor who is APIL accredited, as this provides a quality mark of competence and specialist expertise for solicitors dealing with personal injury cases.

Case Managers

Getting early advice is very important. If rehabilitation is needed the claimant needs to be at the centre of the process and this is where the ‘case manager’ comes in. Your chosen solicitor should select 2 or 3 case managers for you to meet and choose. Once you have chosen your case manager they will work closely with you and your solicitor. The first thing they will do is advise your solicitor what your rehab needs are and prepare a document called an individual Needs Assessment (INA).

Funding your care and treatment:

There are various ways care and rehabilitation can be funded. This can be under what is called the ‘Rehab Code’ where the insurers will release 100% of funds for care and rehabilitation as needed and this will not be taken out of your overall claim at the end. The other way is by interim payments requested by the solicitor to the insurer. Interim payments will be deducted from your final compensation. The Rehab Code can be the quickest way to get access to rehabilitation but can’t always be used.

What else will the solicitor help with?

Your solicitor will not only be sorting out funding for nursing care and rehabilitation including assessments and fittings of prosthetic limbs, but they will also be looking at adaptations that need to be made to your home and if you can continue to live there.

If you are not be able to stay in your own home, they would look for an alternative property to rent until a permanent solution is found. Your case manager will work closely with you and/or your family to choose a property and arrange for any adaptations to be made to make it a suitable and safe place for you to live. Case managers work with specific architects and designers who specialise in adaptations for disabled clients to achieve this.

Once your case is settled the solicitor will source help for you with your finances. The final settlement can be in either a lump sum or in annual payments. A forensic accountant can prepare a plan for you to manage this. The settlement is to financially provide for your future so it is vital you get good financial advice.