If you suffer an injury that is someone else’s fault, you are entitled to fair compensation.
Financial compensation gained because of a personal injury claim can help you cover medical bills, loss of earnings, and emotional harm. However, reaching a satisfactory settlement isn’t always straightforward.
This article will explain how the personal injury claims process works, discuss when it is appropriate to accept the first offer, and provide insight into personal injury negotiation tactics.
How does the personal injury claims process work?
The personal injury claims process can be roughly split into five stages. Here’s a step-by-step outline of how the process typically works:
- Case preparation and evidence collection – If the other party accepts responsibility for your injury, your solicitor will compile all the necessary evidence to support your claim and forward these materials to the defendant’s solicitors.
- Valuation of the claim – Your solicitor will then carefully assess the value of your claim. To do this, they utilise resources such as the Judicial College Guidelines, which provide guidance on the appropriate compensation for various types of injuries. They also look at precedents set by similar cases. Once complete, they send their compensation valuation to the insurance company.
- Compensation offer – The insurer may make a compensation offer at any point during this process. However, it is most commonly made once both parties have disclosed and considered all evidence.
- Negotiation – Your solicitor will usually carry out all negotiations on your behalf.
- Responding to the offer – After each offer, your solicitor will review it with you and advise whether they believe it is fair and whether you should accept it or negotiate for a higher amount. If you decline the offer, your solicitor will continue negotiating with the insurer. Your case may proceed to court if an agreement cannot be reached. The decision to accept or reject an offer is always yours.
Should I accept first offer in personal injury?
Determining whether to accept the first offer in a personal injury claim depends on several factors, including the timing of the offer and the amount being offered.
Sometimes, an offer may be made before all evidence has been disclosed. In these cases, the offer may not accurately reflect the full compensation you’re entitled to for your injuries or associated losses.
Your personal injury solicitor can provide valuable insight into the appropriate level of compensation based on their experience with similar cases. If the defendant has admitted liability, enough evidence has been submitted, and your solicitor believes that the first offer fairly compensates you for your injury, you might consider accepting the first offer. Remember that once an offer is accepted, your claim is considered resolved, and you cannot reopen it later.
However, if you are unhappy with the first offer, you can ask your solicitor to continue negotiations with the defendant’s insurer.
How to negotiate a high personal injury settlement offer
After a compensation offer is made that you or your solicitor consider unsatisfactory, you can discuss personal injury negotiation tactics with your solicitor.
Your solicitor should explain all offers made by the insurer, providing a good understanding of how the compensation figure has been calculated.
Reasons to reject an offer – Typically, your solicitor might recommend rejecting an offer for one of two reasons. First, they may believe the offer inadequately compensates for your injury and financial losses. Secondly, if the offer is made prematurely before all evidence has been submitted, it could be difficult to access the right level of compensation due accurately.
Challenging an offer – If an insurer submits an offer without an explanation, your solicitor will likely request justification for the proposed figure. The insurer’s argument may sometimes justify the offer, but other times they might not provide a satisfactory explanation.
Making a counter-offer – After evaluating the insurer’s justification for their offer, your solicitor may formulate a counter-offer. This counter-offer would usually be based on your specific circumstances and would be accompanied by an explanation of how this figure was calculated.
Points of disagreement – Some claim components, such as loss of earnings, are relatively concrete. However, other areas – like solatium (compensation for emotional harm) – can be more subjective, leading to disagreement over the appropriate compensation amount.
Decision time – If the insurer refuses to raise their offer, you’ll need to decide, with your solicitor’s guidance, whether to accept the current offer or proceed to litigation. While most personal injury claims can be settled outside of court, litigation is sometimes necessary. Considering the higher legal costs of court proceedings, your solicitor would only recommend taking your claim to court if they believe the potential outcome would outweigh the current offer.
Need a personal injury solicitor?
At Mark Reynolds Solicitors we are experts in all things related to personal injury. Get in touch today if you’re looking to get advice or make a claim.