The aim of personal injury lawyers is to secure their clients the compensation they deserve with the minimum of fuss. However, a case can become needlessly complicated simply because of the misconceptions a client has and the resultant mistakes they make.
Martin White, a Partner in the Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence department at WBW Solicitors in Exmouth, outlines the top 10 mistakes that personal injury clients can make and provides tips on how to avoid them.
- Failing to keep key evidence
Evidence is key to the success of a personal injury case so anything relating to your case needs to be kept safe and ready to hand over when your solicitor needs it. This could include photos of your injuries or the accident scene and details of any witnesses. It is also very important to keep receipts for any expenditure you have had to make as a result of your injuries or any financial losses you have incurred.
- Not being totally honest
Your solicitor is not there to judge you. They just need you to be honest about what happened so they can assess your claim and build your case on the facts. If you do not tell the whole truth about what happened or exaggerate the extent of your injuries or financial losses there is a good chance that your case will collapse, which could have adverse costs consequences for you.
- Worrying that your case will have to go to court
Around 95 per cent of personal injury claims are settled out of court so it is highly unlikely you will have to go to court. Even if you do, your case will be heard by an experienced judge and your personal injury lawyer will be there every step of the way, offering advice and speaking on your behalf in court.
- Believing you have to use your insurer’s legal representatives
Some insurers will try and convince you that you have to use legal representatives approved by them, but this is simply not true. You are free to shop around to make sure you get a lawyer who is suitably qualified, will offer you a price you are happy with, and is preferably located near you so they have local knowledge, and you can liaise with them face to face if you wish.
- Not telling the medical expert about all your symptoms, including psychological ones
Compensation is not just payable for the pain and suffering caused by physical injuries, you can also claim damages for any mental suffering you experience too. So make sure you tell your medical expert about every symptom you are experiencing, however minor you think it is.
- Careless posts on social media
Take great care what you post on social media while your claim is going through. Insurers regularly trawl through a claimant’s social media to try and spot posts which might contradict a claim. So even if you can barely walk and your friends have carried you down to the pub, if there are photos of you having a good time this could affect your claim.
- Accepting an offer too soon
Sometimes it may be tempting to take what looks like a reasonable offer and settle your claim. However, you should not accept any offer until your long-term prognosis is certain and the effect of your injuries clear. If you accept a final offer and things later turn out to be worse than initially thought, you cannot usually then go back and ask for more money. Your solicitor has the experience to advise you on the right time to settle and the adequacy of the offer.
- Not clarifying legal fees up front
Most law firms will take your case on a no win no fee basis, but the success fee they claim if you win can differ significantly. Hidden extras can also mount up, so make sure you are absolutely clear upfront about what you might have to pay from your damages if your claim succeeds.
- Not asking your solicitor a question because you think it is foolish
Your solicitor is there for you. No question is ever too foolish. In fact, it makes a solicitor’s job a lot easier if you do ask questions. Make sure you have everything related to the case and the process you need to go through straight in your head.
- Not complying with your solicitor’s requests
Your solicitor has your best interests at heart and is committed to winning your case. If they ask you to do something, whether this is filling in a form, turning up for a medical examination or attend court at a certain time, make sure you do it because it may be fatal to your case if you do not.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.