Making Accident Claims
It is difficult to work out an exact time frame for accident claims as every case is different but there is a certain procedural order that all cases will follow. Here it is:
- Accident: immediately after the accident you will need to record as much information as you can. If you’re injured it’s important you get examined by a doctor and that your injuries are recorded. If there are witnesses to the accident then try and get their details. If you’re at work make sure the accident is logged and if the police attend then get the attending officer’s name.
- You now have a time limit of three years to start court proceedings for accident claim. Obviously it’s better to start the process as soon as possible and your first step should be to go to a Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Law Centre or contact a solicitor and discuss the case with them.
- If you’re seeking damages of less than £1000 then you’ll need to go to the Small Claims Court; this is quite a simple process and your case should be resolved in a matter of months. More complex cases will need a lawyer.
- A lawyer who has agreed to take your case will write a ‘letter of claim’ to the defendant setting out the facts of the accident claim, the allegations of negligence and the compensation asked for.
- The defendant has 21 days to reply with an acknowledgement and a further three-month period to respond; denying or admitting liability. If the matter has passed to their insurance company it will be their decision how to respond.
- If they admit liability and offer compensation then the matter can be resolved quickly. If they deny liability then your lawyer will initiate court proceedings. A court date will be set.
- Whilst waiting for the court case your lawyer will be getting as much supporting evidence as possible together for your accident claim and may require you to visit medical specialists and consult with a variety of accident specialists. This time period can vary and the backlog of cases may mean a wait of many months.
- The defendant can admit liability at any stage during this period and might do so on the day of the hearing. If they do this then the court will resolve payment rather than liability and set damages accordingly. If liability is still contested the court will decide liability and award compensation.