As of April 30, 2010, there is a new scheme for personal injury claims arising from road traffic accidents (RTAs).
The scheme is designed to speed up the whole process so that injured persons receive their compensation much sooner. Cases that do not qualify for the new scheme will be handled under the normal (old) process.
The scheme covers claims where:-
The accident occurred on or after 30 April 2010;
It occurred in England or Wales; and
Likely compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity will be between £1,000.00 – £10,000.00. (This will cover most RTA injuries);
The new scheme benefits from standard forms and an online ‘portal’ which will exchange all relevant information between parties. This will quicken up the process and avoid postage time and occasional letters being lost in the post.
Strict deadlines will also quicken up the process. Current deadlines are often breached with no real sanction against insurers that do so. Under the new scheme, failure to meet a deadline will lead to the claim exiting the scheme and being dealt with under the ‘old’ system.
Insurers will wish to avoid this because the new scheme provides set legal fees for claimant’s solicitors which are fixed and lower than previously. Insurers that allow claims to exit the scheme risk being required to pay the claimant’s solicitor higher and less predictable fees.
Insurers will now be required to accept or deny the fault of their insured within 15 working days of being notified of the claim. If fault is admitted a medical expert is instructed to prepare a report on the claimant’s injuries. If fault is denied the claim exits the scheme and proceeds under the ‘old’ system. Most RTAs are relatively straight forward and fault is often admitted.
Following the medical report the claimant’s solicitor has 15 working days to prepare an offer to settle (including other losses the claimant has suffered (loss of earnings, prescription costs etc.)).The insurer then has 15 working days to accept, reject or negotiate this offer. If accepted the compensation cheque will then be sent out. If agreement cannot be reached the case will proceed to a short court hearing where a judge will assess the appropriate level of compensation. Should this be required the insurer is required make an interim payment to the claimant as part of the settlement with the rest to be determined by the judge.
Claims in the new scheme will almost certainly be settled much quicker than under the old system. For instance, previously an insurer had up to 111 days to confirm or deny fault – now they will have 15! This represents a much better deal for injured people. However, only time will tell how effective the new scheme will be – if the parties are unable to meet the tough new time scales then a significant number of cases will fall out of the new process and back into the existing scheme.
If you have been injured in an RTA in the last three years that was not your fault and you have not yet made a claim, please call Poole Alcock LLP solicitors on 01270 502880 to speak to our team of experienced lawyers for advice on making a “no win, no fee” claim.