In the United Kingdom, if a claim has acceptable grounds, most medical negligence lawsuits are settled by negotiation.
Having said that, medical negligence claims, particularly compared to any other injury claims process, have a lot more room for dispute, debate, and outright denial. When the NHS and its attorneys make an offer, the claimant is often so drained by the process and so worried about the possibility of losing everything that he will accept it, even if he is told that the offer is not fair.
Before commencing the claims process for compensation, you must seek legal advice to understand the grounds for your personal injury claim. Your personal injury solicitor will consult with you to determine an acceptable amount of compensation. According to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, this amount is based on your situation and what other equivalent personal injury cases have yielded before. If your compensation offer is within the agreed-upon range, your lawyer may advise you to accept it.
Before deciding on a final settlement, certain issues must be answered, including:
- What are the chances of remaining in pain for months, years, or even for the rest of your life?
- How much income have you lost? What are your expenses in travel, medical costs, or any other related expenses following your injury?
- Who was responsible? Even if you were not at fault, insurance companies are likely to make first offers that declare shared liability.
- What are the Judicial College’s guidelines?
The Importance of Medical Evidence
Your lawyer will talk to any witnesses involved in your accident to verify and support your description of events. They will also look at your post-accident medical records and police report (if any) before arranging for an independent medical assessment, depending on the severity of your injuries and prognosis. All these are aimed at tying the accident to the impact it has had on your life.
Without all the evidence, a claim will be reduced to your word against the other party’s, making it more difficult to refute if they claim you were at least partially responsible for your injuries. The more compelling your initial case, the more quickly your claim will be resolved, and the higher the chances of obtaining maximum compensation.
Receiving a Pre-Medical Offer from an Insurance Company
A pre-medical offer is an offer made before the competing insurance companies have checked any medical evidence.
Evidence is precious in evaluating the depth of personal injury claims. It is presented in a comprehensive report compiled by a qualified medical expert. The expert conducts a thorough examination and then outlines the injuries you have sustained before writing the report. The report includes their evaluation of the injuries, such as how long they will take to heal, if they will cause long-term issues, and so on.
If you saw a doctor following the accident, there must be proof of a doctor-patient relationship. These, however, are not necessarily the same details included in the medical examinations mentioned before. A medical examination focuses on providing medical evidence to support your personal injury claim. Your attendance records do not constitute medical evidence on their own, but they will be used by a medical expert when writing their report.
Any of this will be overlooked by pre-medical offers. At this point, the opposing insurers would generally only have a summary of your injuries, which is obtained from the paperwork used to file your claim.
Consider Insurance Companies Making the Unsolicited Offer
Following the filing of a complaint, either the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company will make a settlement offer, if any.
Should the defendant be found to have no insurance to take care of potential liability for the claim, the plaintiff must establish if the defendant has enough funds to compensate for the losses if the plaintiff wins at trial. No matter how hefty the injury compensation is, a plaintiff will not receive anything from a trial if the defendant has little money and limited assets.
Acceptable Compensation Offer
If a broke defendant’s settlement offer isn’t far off what a plaintiff may expect after a trial, settling and avoiding the trouble may be the best option.
If the defendant is covered by an insurance company that covers the plaintiff’s claims, the insurer will typically lead the defense in most cases. Unlike an uninsured defendant, a plaintiff does not have to worry about the insurance company going broke; in fact, several states have “insurance guarantee” funds that will satisfy a claim if the insurer goes bankrupt.
The defendant’s insurance policy limitations are the most important factor to consider. Any damage awards that exceed the policy limit must be paid out of pocket by the defendant; thus, if the policy limit is low and the defendant is broke, an apparently modest settlement offer may be the best option. If the insurance maximum is set high, the plaintiff won’t worry about the compensation reward for general damages.
Why you Should Not Accept the First Offer
To answer that question, you should consider the impact of your injuries on your life.
If they affect your life, you run the risk of having your claim settled for less than it is worth.
Accepting the first offer is not advisable, even if you feel you have healed from your injuries. It might be difficult to determine if a pre-medical offer is acceptable or not when there is no medical evidence to back up your claim. You must also assess if the offer is reasonable in light of all of the damages you have suffered due to the accident. Refusing the medical offer is typically the safest option because accepting it terminates your claim.
Another question to consider is: who benefits the most by accepting? It would almost definitely be in the best interests of the defendant’s insurer. Acceptance, on the other hand, may be in your best interests depending on the circumstances. When all is said and done, their goal is to settle your claim for as little money as possible.
An Experienced Solicitor is your Best Bet in all Personal Injury Claims
Your best interests can only be served by your ability to make an informed decision. Such cases must be handled by a qualified attorney from an established law firm to help you settle claims on a reasonable success fee.
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If you feel you have a strong personal injury case and you’re looking for a quick compensation settlement, get in touch with us today and let our team of lawyers handle everything on your behalf. Contact us for more information.