Insurance companies are increasingly trying to prevent accident victims from taking their personal injury claims to an independent solicitor by offering them a “hassle free, early settlement”.
Unfortunately this often involves offering the injured person a paltry sum of compensation and telling them that their injuries will not be worth more. Insurers rarely recommend that a medical report should be obtained or explain that without such a report it is impossible to accurately assess the proper level of compensation for the accident. Nor do they point out that as insurers they are not qualified to assess compensation levels in a personal injury case.
Two innocent victims of a road traffic accident from Cheshire (a father and son) had the good sense to bring their claims to Slee Blackwell Solicitors at an early stage. The Defendant’s insurers tried to convince them that their injuries were very minor and offered them £250.00 each if they settled right away.
The offer was rejected on our advice, as were several subsequent offers; each offer slightly higher than the last.
Medical reports were obtained in respect of both Claimants’ injuries and it came as no surprise to us that the claims were both worth substantially more than any of the settlement offers the insurers had made.
The first Claimant eventually received compensation of £5,000.00 and the second Claimant settled his injury claim for £4,090.60. Whilst both claimants could have settled their claims at an earlier stage, it would have been for a much smaller amount of compensation. The Claimants were both very happy with the outcome of their claims and agreed that the advantage of having their claims dealt with properly and professionally far outweighed any potential benefits of an early settlement.
Another innocent accident victim was less fortunate in her dealings with a Defendant’s insurers when she agreed to settle her personal injury claim direct without first seeking the assistance of an independent, specialist solicitor.
When the client consulted us she said she had already agreed a settlement of £1,250.00 direct with the Defendant’s insurers. The insurance company had told her that her symptoms were very straight forward and something they dealt with everyday. Again, no medical report was offered and she was confidently assured that this would not be necessary.
However, having settled the claim the client’s symptoms persisted. She then had to undergo a series of scans and tests which showed that she had in fact broken her back. It became immediately apparent she had grossly under-settled her accident claim.
The Claimant contacted the Defendant’s insurers to let them know about the medical discovery and was very disappointed when they refused to re-open her claim or consider further compensation.
This case illustrates the benefits of instructing an independent, specialist personal injury solicitor before any settlement is reached. There is no such thing as a bog standard ‘back injury’ or typical ‘whiplash’. People respond to injuries in different ways, so whilst a particular type of injury may only put me out of action for a week, it could affect you for the rest of your life.
Furthermore, insurance companies are not medically trained and without medical evidence it is simply not possible to assess how serious an injury actually is and consequently impossible to put an accurate value on the claim.
Finally, in our experience, if insurers can settle a claim for less than its actually worth then they will. In the majority of cases a persons injuries will be worth more than the figure being offered and in order for this to be recognised, professional advice should be sought from a reputable firm of solicitors specialising in accident claims.