Car Accident Advice
This is my first post and I'm in need of a little bit of advice.
3 days ago I was involved in a rear end shunt. The driver who hit me drove straight off after hitting my car.
I contacted the police who did not come out to the scene.
I was left to pick up the pieces, and visit my local police station to report it.
I then decided that wasn't good enough, and searched for the vehicle myself.
I found the offending vehicle, took pictures of the damage to both cars, as well as informing the police of the reg number.
My insurance company have been very helpful, as in courtesy car delivered within two hours of reporting it to them, and my damaged car taken away for repair.
According to my insurance company, they said the driver who hit me was insured, so they will liaise with them regarding the crash.
The same day as contacting my insurance I received a phone call from a recommended claims company through my insurance (myself and passengers do have moderate whiplash) but unfortunately I don't have legal cover on my policy.
The way I am reading it, it isn't worth claiming through them as if I was to win my claim, most if not all of the compensation would go to the company. That's where the advice come in, I really don't know what to do as I've never been in this situation in the 16 years I've been driving.
Also any idea how long a hit and run investigation by the police may take (even though I have found the vehicle afterwards and reported it)
Many thanks to you in advance
As far as injury claims are concerned, you have two choices: Either to use a no-win-no-fee lawyer, who will only take your case on if they think you have a high chance of success (it is usually an insurance company who take the risk), or to find a lawyer who will take the case on a fee basis on the understanding that you will have to pay them, even if you lose. In both cases, the third party insurers pay all the costs if you win.
The fact that there has been so much bad publicity surrounding the NWNF lawyers and the dodgy practices that some of them get up to, does not mean that they do not offer a valuable service. The idea that "most if not all of the compensation would go to the company" is a misunderstanding.
When you read in the paper that £thousands were paid out, but the victim only got part of that, sometimes less than half, it does not mean that the victim was short changed. When a court makes an order for compensation, that is what the victim gets. The costs that the lawyers claim are a separate matter, and have no effect on the compensation. NWNF lawyers are exceptionally good at loading their costs.
You will be able to claim for general damages ( which take into account the pain and suffering you have sustained as a result of your accident and any lost earnings. General damages will also compensate you for the inability to carry out day to day tasks or hobbies which you enjoyed before such as gardening, DIY or sports.
Special damages are intended to reimburse you for any expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident. For example the cost of travelling to and from hospital, the cost of medication, nursing care, rehabilitation costs or any aids necessary such as a wheelchair or stair lift. You will also be entitled to claim compensation for modifications to your house or car if these are necessary to your condition. Special damages also compensate you for damage to property such as car repairs after a road traffic accident or a policy excess paid by you to your insurers.
Last edited by Santa; 21-05-14 at 12:46.
You will get very little help from the police. My wife was rear shunted a few years ago. The cretin who hit her was a druggie from scouseland. He gave false details and drove off. She went to hospital to have her neck checked as she has metalwork in it for spinal degeneration. We also reported it to the police and insurance. A total waste of time as they said that they could determine who was driving as it belonged to a pub and was used by many people. All bull sh*t as far as I am concerned as they just couldn't be bothered. Luckily her insurance did not increase. So don't hold your breath on the police front.
Are you aware that the law has changed and the vast majority of NWNF solicitors will take a portion of your settlement which is typically circa 20%
Originally Posted by Santa
Many thanks for the replies today.
Originally Posted by dacouch
The company involved in looking at my claim have said they take 25% of any compensation I may receive.
Also as I don't have it on my insurance policy, they will set up a legal service which will cost £245.
So, if I lose my claim I pay absolutely nothing.
If I win my claim I pay 25% of what I get plus the £245 premium for the legal services.
EG: I win £2000 - 25% = £500 to the claim company then - £245 for the legal service premium, I would receive £1255.
I'm guessing that's quite reasonable.
Are you a member of a union as these generally include legal cover?
Check any breakdown cover or any other motor policies you have.
The law changed and the fees solicitors can charge to the other Insurers have been capped to a limit that many companies are not prepared to accept hence why most make a deduction from your compensation. However there are companies out there who are happy with the capped costs and will accept business without making a deduction.
What sort of injuries are you claiming for as the other option is to just claim directly from the other Insurers who will make no deductions etc, they're duty bound to treat you fairly. However many people believe they received less by going direct. If you have straight forward injuries that will clear up fairly quickly with no residual problems this option could save you money as you won't have the deductions.
As you state moderate whiplash I'm guessing this will clear up shortly with your compensation being in the £1k ish region.
P.S Your Insurers have almost certainly sold your details on to a credit hire company who've put you in an expensive hire vehicle for which you have signed a credit agreement. Your Insurers received about £300 commission for this.
I recommend you google "Credit Hire"
From your description, the other party is 100% to blame and your insurers accept that.
Any personal injury claim (especially with passengers) has a value to the claim companies, so shop around! Even if they take a fat fee, you'll still get some compensation for your injuries, with no effort on your part.
The police investigation shouldn't have any effect on the claim.
I'm slightly worried now as my damaged car was an 59 plate hatchback astra, the 'courtesy' car I was given is a 63 plate citroen picasso c4. Not really like for like is it.
Also as the other driver didn't stop, there is a police investigation going on.
I don't know the details of this other guys insurance although my insurance company told me he was insured so will be dealing with them.
I don't have any other policies which have legal cover on.
My injuries along with my passenger was just moderate whiplash, ie the headaches, muscle aches and pains etc.
If I ask my insurance company, are they obliged to tell me the name of the at fault insurance company to enable me to go direct?
Do you have the registration number?
Everyone is so keen to slag off no win no fee law firms when they have no real idea what they are talking about, when in fact the biggest rip off is the legal expenses appointed law firms which I have covered in detail before.
The below is a draft of an article wrote only a couple of weeks ago (the finished item will be pubished soon) which explains how no win no fee currently works, or to give it its proper name Conditional Fee Agreement.
Oh, and a rear end shumt is strict liability.
You often hear of people refer to the No win, no fee ambulance chasers, but, not many people actually understand what it is, and given some significant changes that have been introduced in the past 12 months, I thought you may appreciate a proper explanation of what it actually is and how it works.
Until, 2001, many personal injury cases were either funded by the legal aid scheme which was and still is) means tested, or the client had to fund their legal representation themselves. This meant that many injured people simply could not afford to make a claim against the person who caused their injuries.
No win, no fee was introduced to address this and make legal representation accessible to everyone regardless of their status and replaced the legal aid scheme for personal injury cases.
If you've been injured as a result of a crash, a solicitor may be prepared to pursue your claim funded or, in other words, paid for on what is commonly known as a ‘no-win-no-fee’ basis. This means that the solicitor (or the law firm they work for) will take most of the risk in the event that your claim fails.
If you decide to instruct a solicitor on a ‘no-win-no-fee’ basis, you will actually be entering into what is known as a ‘Conditional Fee Agreement’ (or ‘CFA’), because them getting paid a fee is conditional on them winning the case for you. The CFA document you will receive sets out the details of the arrangement.
A CFA is a formal, legally-binding agreement between you and your solicitor and it must be in writing and signed by both you and the solicitor.
There are some restrictions on the terms of the agreement, which include a limit on the amount a solicitor can charge you as a ‘success fee’, which is a sort of bonus that the solicitor gets, on top of their fees, to reflect the risk of taking the case on.
This success fee is calculated to reflect the degree of risk and difficulty that your case poses and is worked out as a percentage of the solicitors’ costs; however, it can never be more than 100% of those costs. Previously, the success fee was paid by the unsuccessful defendant as a part of your costs that they are obliged to pay on losing the case. Recent changes to the success fee mean, though, that under new rules law firms must recover the success fee from their client (i.e. you) not the other side.
They are, therefore, allowed to deduct a percentage of the damages they recover on your behalf towards their costs, including the success fee. However, the new rules also say that, whatever the percentage of the success fee in your agreement, the amount that they can deduct from the damages you obtain is capped at 25% of, basically, your past losses, such as any loss of earnings, and the part of the compensation you receive for the actual injury itself (known as ‘general damages’). In practice, if there is a deduction at all, it is unlikely to be more than about 10% of your total compensation.
Significantly, solicitors are not permitted to use CFA's in, for example, matrimonial, child-custody or other family law cases and are not allowed to use them in criminal cases.
If your claim fails, then generally you will not have to pay your solicitor anything at all (unless you have agreed to pay court costs, expert fees and/or similar expenses that the solicitor advanced for you in connection with the case) or in certain circumstances, such as if the case turns out to be fraudulent.
Until the rule changes last year, if your claim failed in court, you would almost certainly be liable to pay the other party's costs (though only from the date that court proceedings were issued). However, that rule has now changed, so that generally, even if you lose the case, you will not have to pay the other side’s costs, except in certain circumstances, e.g. once again in relation to fraud or relating to offers of settlement made by the defendant. Even in those circumstances, however, you can take out what is called After the Event (ATE) insurance against this risk, but your solicitor will advise you on this.
If you win, you will be liable to pay your solicitor their normal fees, their disbursements (which are expenses, such as court fees and experts’ fees that they have paid on your behalf during the course of your case, including also the ATE premium) and the success fee.
Ordinarily, however, your opponent will be required to pay these fees, but this does not happen in every case and in almost all cases you will not recover all of your solicitors’ costs from the defendant, so you may have to pay some or all of your own costs. This would generally be paid as a deduction from the compensation you received. Once again, the solicitor will explain the details of this to you and should do so at the outset of the case.
Remember too that ‘winning’ a case is not always as straightforward as it may seem. Sometimes, it is possible to win a case overall, but to lose important interim parts within the proceedings. In these circumstances, you may be liable to pay some of the costs your opponent has incurred in connection with those interim matters on which you may have lost. This will generally be covered by your ATE insurance though.
Another way that you may still be affected, even after ‘winning’ the case is if your opponent made an offer to settle your case, known as a ‘Part 36 Offer’:
If you reject a Part 36 Offer and then later settle the claim or receive judgment for an amount less than that offered, you may be liable for some or all of the costs incurred by your opponent after the offer was made (even though they will still have to pay your costs up to the date of the offer). The principle being that the offer was reasonable and so should have been accepted and by not doing so you are responsible for forcing further (and ultimately unnecessary) litigation afterwards. Once again, though, if you rejected the offer on the advice of your legal representatives, this should be covered by your
If you reject a Part 36 Offer against your solicitor's advice and receive judgment for an amount less than that offered, it is probable that you will also have to pay all of your own solicitors’ fees, including the success fee, as well as those of the defendant, but this is extremely unlikely to happen.
The vast majority of personal injury claims that are successful are settled before trial, but a settlement will not relieve you of your obligation to pay your solicitors their costs. Generally, costs are discussed during negotiations leading up to the settlement. So, typically, the settlement will require your opponent to pay some or all of your costs, usually directly to your solicitor.
If you decide to end the CFA before your case is concluded, then your solicitor will require you to pay all of their costs and disbursements up to the date you ended the agreement. You will also continue to be liable to pay them the success fee if you win the case using a different solicitor.
In practice, if you want to change solicitors part way through your case, you will need to negotiate some resolution with your first solicitor.
If your solicitor decides to end the CFA, then the amount you are required to pay them depends on their reason for ending the CFA. If the solicitor ends the CFA because they have concluded that you are unlikely to win, e.g. because some important aspect of the case has changed or new evidence has come to light, then you pay only their disbursements, but no fees.
If the solicitor ends the CFA because you have not cooperated with them, you have not met your responsibilities under the CFA, or because you have rejected a settlement offer that they recommended you accept, they can require you to pay all of their fees and disbursements up to the date the CFA ends, plus the success fee if you eventually win the case.
Other points to consider
As mentioned above, even if you are pursuing your claim under a 'no-win-no-fee' arrangement with your solicitor, there are some circumstances in which you may nevertheless be exposed to the risk that if you lose you will be liable to pay your opponent's costs. Ordinarily, your solicitor can arrange for what is known as ‘after the event’ or ‘ATE’ insurance to cover this risk. The ATE insurer is almost invariably prepared to defer payment of the premium until the end of the case. Under the rule changes that I mentioned above the premium for the ATE insurance can no longer be claimed from your opponent and so this may also be deducted from your compensation.
This is something you should check with the solicitor at the outset of the case.
During the course of your case and when your case goes to court, your solicitor will need to instruct a barrister, e.g. to prepare court papers or represent you at hearings. Frequently, barristers who do personal injury work will also do so on a ‘no-win-no-fee’ basis. Your solicitor should be able to arrange this for you as part of your case.
If you're working with a solicitor, they should be able to provide you with a clear and comprehensive explanation, both verbally and in writing, of how a ‘no-win-no-fee’ arrangement will work and the Law Society has produced a guide, which your solicitor should be able to give you. If you are not happy or are not clear about any aspect of the funding, then do be prepared to ask questions until you are happy.
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