Let’s imagine you’re a self -employed builder on your way to work on your latest project.

Your business is doing well and you are developing a good reputation. In fact, you’re thinking of upgrading your reliable but elderly van to a newer, shinier model to impress your customers.

Suddenly the decision is taken out of your hands as out of the blue, a car turns straight into you, clearly looking the other way.  Your elderly van looks very sad with a huge dent in the wing.  You give yourself a quick check, but apart from being a bit shaken up, you seem ok. “Sorry, mate”, says the other driver, “didn’t see you. Here’s my insurance details”. You give him yours and taking out your mobile, organise getting yourself and your van home. No work THAT day.

Feeling a bit sore, you make yourself a cup of tea when you get back.  You’re not surprised you ache and the tremor in your hand holding your cup is probably just shock. Entirely normal. You’ll be ok. Back to work tomorrow, no need to trouble your doctor.

The phone rings.

“Hello, Mr Johnson, Southern Insurance here. I believe one of our clients just ran into you?”

Blimey, they’re on the ball.

“Yes, that’s right, I….”

“Were you injured? Have you seen a doctor? Are you self-medicating? Are you taking time off work?”

“Well, I no, not really, just shaken, you know…..can’t afford time off work…self-employed…be back tomorrow I expect…”

“ Thank you Mr Johnson. Now, I expect you’d like to get this cleared up, as would we, so what we’d like to do is get your vehicle sorted, BUT – I am also authorised to make you an offer of compensation for your injuries, which thankfully sound quite minor. I’d like to offer £1000.00 right now. You can take independent legal advice”

“But…I’m not really injured…just a bit…”

“Mr Johnson, because I’d really like to help you out here and get this out of the way for you, I can increase to £2000.00. How does that sound?”

Like a fair bit towards the cost of a new van.

“Well, I don’t know….I….”

“£2750, Mr Johnson, but I can’t go any higher than that, I’m afraid. You can take legal advice on my offer. It would be in full and final settlement of your injury claim, but not your vehicle”

Hmm. New van. I’m not really injured after all.

“Right, ok, then, it’s a deal”

“Great, thank you Mr Johnson. That cheque will be in the post to you within 24 hours.  Thank you for your time”

Fast forward two years.

How could you have known that tremor would turn out to be a crushed nerve in your arm?

How could you know that without prompt treatment and repair, the nerve would deteriorate and you would be in severe and permanent pain, with an arm you can’t use? 

How could you have foreseen that you wouldn’t be able to work and lose your business? 

Your insurance helped a bit, but it’s run out now.  Not sure if you can get any benefits.  You’ll have to sell the van, of course.  But what about the mortgage and the future?  Your wife is ill with the stress and you’re not too good yourself.  How are you going to get by?

Admittedly the above scenario looks a bit dramatic, but there really are cases like this that solicitor’s see.  If you have an accident, you may be contacted early by an insurer keen to settle the claim before any medical evidence has been obtained as to the true nature and extent of your injuries.  Some injuries are not clear and take time to develop and may end up far worse than they seemed at the time.   There is nothing wrong in principle in trying to settle claims early on, but you have to be sure that you are settling for an appropriate sum in terms of your injury, loss of earnings, care needs, treatment, re-training if you can’t do your job any more, all that sort of thing. “Full and final settlement” means what it says, final. You can’t ask for higher compensation later when you discover your injury is much worse than first thought, or only in very rare situations.

It may seem tempting to take a sum from the insurers straight away. A lot of people don’t want the bother and even stress of going through a claim procedure. But do be very careful before accepting a “pre-med” (pre-medical evidence) offer from an insurer.

Many solicitors offer free initial advice. Ringrose Law do following an accident of any kind and it is worthwhile taking up this offer to check what your claim could really be worth. This is not seeking to exaggerate your claim. The law says that anyone who is injured by someone else’s negligence and not through their own fault is entitled to be put back in the position they were in before the injury as far as financial compensation will allow.  Some things money can’t do –undo brain damage or put an amputated leg back on, for instance. But it can help to make your life more comfortable and your future more secure despite the injuries.

If you’ve had an accident and would like some advice, contact us on 01522 561020 or go to www.ringroselaw.co.uk.

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