Luckily, most people only have to make a claim once, but this means that the majority of our clients don’t know what to expect from the process. To make the claims process less daunting, here’s a guide on what to expect as the claim progresses.
While this information provides a brief outline of a horse accident claim involving serious injuries, less serious injury claims are typically far more straightforward and generally settle within 6 to 12 months.
Day 1 – Contact with us following a horse accident (by you or a relative).
Day 1 or 2 – We will send a client care pack to you.
A meeting / further contact will be arranged as soon as possible to discuss the claim, funding issues, horse accident circumstances and difficulties being faced that require urgent attention.
We will send a letter of claim to the potential defendant. Liability investigations will commence with the police and any witnesses to your accident.
The proposed defendant or their insurer should send an acknowledgement of the letter of claim within 21 days of receipt. The acknowledgement should confirm that the accident circumstances and liability are being investigated.
Within 3 months of receiving an acknowledgment to the letter of claim, the proposed defendant or the insurer should make a decision in respect of liability. In other words, they should state whether or not they accept that the horse accident was their fault.
In practice, liability decisions are often delayed until, for example, following a road traffic accident until a police collision investigator’s report is finalised. Such a report will not be available until the conclusion of any criminal proceedings if there are any.
Medical evidence and rehabilitation
We will obtain medical records and then independent medical reports from leading independent medical experts specialising in fields relevant to the injuries sustained.
Repeat examinations and reports will be obtained if necessary. it is often the case that when you first see the medical expert, they are unable to provide a reliable prognosis as to your recovery because it is too early on.
Often a rehabilitation provider be appointed to oversee your rehabilitation. This will be agreed with your opponent who will normally agree to cover the costs of such rehabilitation. In is in their interests to do so because the faster you recover and the extent to which you recover, dictates the amount of compensation that they will ultimately pay-out. This rehabilitation is provided at the outside of any litigation that may be ongoing.
Valuing your claim
When we are satisfied that the medical evidence is complete, we will be in a position to value the injury element of your claim.
In principle, the purpose of the claim is to put you in the same position as you would have been had the accident not occurred. In serious injury claims, this is obviously not always possible, and as such financial compensation for injuries is awarded. The award increases dependent upon the severity of the injuries.
Financial losses and settlement
When the medical evidence is complete, we will prepare a schedule of your financial losses (past and future) incurred as a result of the accident. Once the schedule of loss has been finalised, we will advise you as to a suitable offer to put to your opponent in settlement of the claim.
We may need to obtain witness statements from people who know you in support of your claim. We may also need to instruct non-medical experts such as an occupational therapist, nursing, care, speech, accommodation and a physiotherapist.
Once we have fully documented your claim we will serve our evidence on the defendant and enter settlement negotiations. This negotiation process can include written offers, settlement meetings with your opponent’s representatives or mediation, and you will be able to give instructions upon any offers received.
You may also need to attend one or more conferences with counsel (a barrister which we will instruct on your behalf and who would have conduct of the court hearing were a trial to become necessary) throughout the claim.
We will advise you on the best approach in negotiations and settlement can usually be reached.
If no settlement is reached in terms of liability or quantum (the value of the claim) we may advise that court proceedings should be commenced. This means that the claim will be passed to the court which will take over the management of the claim. It will set out directions for the exchange of evidence, witness evidence and other relevant documents before eventually timetabling a trial.
If a settlement is not reached then a trial should take place within 9-12 months or so of the court proceedings having been served on your opponent, although delays can occur at busy courts.
In order for us to recommend settlement of your claim we must be reasonably certain as to your prognosis (time taken to recover and the degree of expected recovery). This prevents under-settling of claims so it is in your best interest. We rely on the opinion of medical experts as to whether your prognosis is reasonably certain and therefore whether or not it is safe to settle your claim.
Each case is different and may take a shorter or longer time to settle. We will settle the claim as early as we can reasonably do so though always taking care to maximise your damages.