A few days ago, there was a sponsored advert for an accident claims company on Facebook. Working in the same kind of industry (although Mooneerams are personal injury solicitors, not a claims company) it’s always interesting to see what our competitors are doing by way of marketing
Underneath this particular advert, a lady had made an interesting comment, by writing:
“….and you know who pays for these accident claims, don’t you? The taxpayer.”
The lady’s comments weren’t challenged by anyone. We’ll come back to this specific comment further down this article, but it raises the question:
‘How much do the public know about accident claims and accident compensation?’
Unless you have been involved in the accident claim process either as a legal adviser (in which case it’s your job to know about the legal process) or as an accident victim who has made a compensation claim (either yourself or through the services of a personal injury lawyer), then you have no reason to be familiar with the accident claims process.
We thought it would be helpful if we went through a few of the most frequently asked questions members of the public ask online in relation to the phrase ‘accident claims’ and provided some answers.
1. How do accident claims work?
Whole books have been written in an attempt to answer this question. Nevertheless, we’ll do our best to give the briefest of summaries in a few sentences.
If you get injured in an accident which was the fault of another person, you are entitled to bring an accident compensation claim against that person. The accident could have happened in one of many ways. At Mooneerams solicitors we help people who have been injured in:
This is not a complete list of all the circumstances in which you can claim. If you get injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another person, but in a way not described in the list above, call us here at Mooneerams solicitors on 029 2048 3615 for a free, no obligation chat with one of our personal injury experts.
An accident claim gets started by the injured party (the claimant) writing to the person who caused the accident (the defendant), setting out:
- That the claimant intends making a claim for compensation from the defendant.
- Why the claimant says the defendant is responsible for the accident.
- What type of compensation (damages) the claimant will claim from the defendant e.g.
pain, suffering, loss of amenity and consequential losses. In other words, compensation for the injuries suffered in the accident (physical and/or psychological injury) and any other losses that the claimant has, or expects to suffer in the future, and which are directly related to the accident and the injuries incurred in it e.g., loss of earnings, medical bills, damaged car/bicycle/motorbike and possibly much more. The letter of claim will briefly outline the nature of the injuries that the accident victim has sustained.
- Request that the defendant provide details of their insurance company
- Request that the defendant sends the claimant any documents he/she has that may be relevant to the case.
This letter is called a ‘letter of claim’.
After the letter of claim has been sent, the defendant will have a chance to respond to it.
After this, there are procedures and protocols to comply with as well as time limits to adhere to throughout however long the claim goes on for. This is why most people choose to seek out the help of a specialist No Win No Fee personal injury solicitor when they need to make an accident claim.
In all personal injury claims, it is vitally important to obtain medical evidence from an experienced doctor, usually a consultant. The Defendant is entitled to obtain their own medical evidence, too. The two parties involved must follow the written down personal injury protocol as to how this evidence is obtained.
Whilst all accident injury claims start in a formal way many claims settle without going to a court hearing to decide the claim.
Most claims settle by negotiation between the claimant and the defendant solicitors either:
- before court proceedings are formally started, or if they have begun,
- without going before a judge to decide the case.
2. Who pays for accident claims?
If you have been injured in an accident and decide to make a claim against the person who caused it, your claim will, in name, be brought against the other individual. Therefore, if court proceedings are commenced, the name of the case, in court terms will be:
‘Rita Smith v Alfred Jones’
In the case of an accident at work, the claim would be in the name of:
‘Rita Smith v XYZ Ltd.’
However, in the majority of accident compensation claims, the claim will be handled on behalf of the named defendant, by their insurance company . The insurance company pays out any compensation on behalf of the defendant in the event that the claimant wins the accident claim. The insurers also pay out any costs awarded to the claimant.
This is the reason motor insurance, employers liability, and third-party liability insurance in general, exist: insurance is there to ensure that people who are injured or suffer monetary loss as a result of the negligence of the insured person, company, or public body, get paid out.
When people, suffer injury in tripping accidents caused by defective pavements or roads, any accident claim to recover personal injury compensation, will be brought against the local authority, council, or highways authority. These institutions will either have insurance though an insurance company, or they will be self-insured.
Self-insurance is where a company or authority puts aside a pool of money to pay for possible losses including accident claim compensation. If they self-insure, it is because they have carried out a risk assessment which leads them to believe that self-insuring will in their particular case, be more cost effective than paying large insurance premiums to a private insurance company.
Research has found that around 70% of all compensation paid out in compensation claims, comes from insurance companies.
In limited cases, the taxpayer may indirectly contribute towards the self-insurance pool of funds put aside by local authorities to settle some claims. If this leads some people to believe this is a reason compensation should not be paid to the victims of accidents caused by someone else’s negligence, then in our opinion, it is flawed. Accident claims hold to account, people whose mistakes cause harm to others. Accident claims help put right, wrongs. They help to change bad habits.
3. Do I have to pay tax on accident compensation?
You will be pleased to hear that personal injury compensation settlements are not taxable. Whether you receive your compensation all in one go or in interim payments as the case goes on, you won’t be required to pay tax on the amount you recover in an accident claim settlement.
If you have been put off from making a compensation claim because you believed that you would have tax to pay on any compensation settlement, now’s the time to make a claim. Don’t forget as a rule of thumb, you only have three years from the date of the accident in which to make a personal injury claim.
4. Which is the best accident claims company?
The first thing to ask yourself is whether you want to use a specialist personal injury solicitor to do your accident claim for you, or if you want to use a claims company.
Most claims companies are marketing companies. If you use a claims company to handle your injury claim for you, it will be passed on to a solicitor who pays the claims company a fee for doing so. The solicitor that you end up with, may simply be the next in line to receive a claim after paying a fee to the claims company. How good they are at dealing with personal injury claims, you will not find out until you have signed on the dotted line authorising them to act for you.
The same situation often applies if you agree to use the solicitor that your insurance company chooses for you.
In both cases you lose the power of choice.
The secret to getting the best solicitor on board for your claim is by you retaining the power of choice over who you use.
How do you know which firm of injury lawyers to use?
Your first step is to read our article; Talk to Me – The Art of Finding a Good Personal Injury Solicitor In it, you’ll find plenty of tips for helping you decide which injury lawyer to use.
Whatever you do, choose a specialist personal injury firm of solicitors. For example, here at Mooneerams, we only handle personal injury claims and only for claimants, not insurance companies. That has been the case ever since Mooneerams first started in 2002.
Solicitors online reviews
More than ever, online reviews are an important way of finding out how good a law firm is. It’s easy to say how good we are. What do other people think of us? Take a look at our reviews on:
Trustpilot Solicitor.info and Facebook
Whatever you decide, make sure that it is you who controls who ends up dealing with your claim not another party. After all no one has your best interests at heart more than you!
If you’d like to find out more about how we handle personal injury claims at Mooneerams Solicitors, why not give us a call on 029 2048 3615 or contact us online. You’ll find us friendly, approachable and above all knowledgeable. One free call to us, with no obligation to use us, will be all it takes to reassure you that we are the right people to deal with your claim. Most of our clients claims are handled on a No Win No Fee basis.