Richard Harris

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Richard Harris Cornwall Solicitors

Personal Injury Advice – Useful Information and Tips

Things to do

We’ve put together this list of personal injury advice to help the smooth processing of your claim. If you have any further questions contact us today – all initial advice is free!

In a car accident get the registration numbers of the cars behind before they drive off, (better still get their names and addresses)

Why? This is because after the initial accident witnesses don’t want to get involved and will disappear. Bus and lorry drivers face disciplinary action for accidents and often deny that they were at fault whatever the circumstances.

Watch who actually gets out of the driver’s seat from the car that hit you

Why? If the driver has been drinking they may say someone else was driving and alcohol is almost a dead cert for liability.

If you have an injury make sure it is recorded at A & E or your GP

  • Make sure that A & E record what happened accurately.
  • If you continue to have pain keep going to see your GP but remember that the GP is likely to make a note of everything and it may appear in your medical records.

Why? Insurance companies are likely to have access to your medical records at a later date and will argue that if you do not seek medical advice you weren’t injured or are no longer suffering.

A & E notes are seen as an independent and accurate account of what happened in the accident. Even if wrong hospital records and GP notes are difficult to overcome and cannot be changed. The other side’s insurers will go through them with a fine-tooth comb.

Personal Injury Advice - Medical Expenses

Keep a record of all expenses caused by the accident such as prescriptions, mileage to hospitals/GP, parking by you and any hospital visitors. If you can, keep any paperwork to prove it.

Why? So that you can claim it back but you need details and preferably documentation to back it up.

Keep a record of the time i.e. number of hours that you receive assistance given by friends and close family on an unpaid basis either for care, housework/DIY/gardening

Why? You can claim it at a going rate of about £50.00 per week or even £5-7.00 per hour but need to know the number of hours. If you cannot do DIY this can be what the average DIY’er can claim this at £750.00 per year.

If you are injured at work or in a shop make sure it is accurately recorded in the accident book. Record in the accident book that you asked for the CCTV to be preserved

Why? The other side’s insurance company will claim that it never happened or wasn’t serious if it is not in the accident book. The account put down by management will become their version of events. CCTV footage nearly always miraculously disappears in shops.

If you trip or slip in a shop get the names and addresses of witnesses before they disappear and make sure you remember how big/what shape/how deep the puddle/what exactly was the grape/yoghurt/cream that you slipped on was

Why? Shops always deny that there was anything to slip on because the assistant manager and staff fear their jobs are on the line.

Broken Pavement

If you trip on a pavement photograph and measure it as soon as possible and take someone with you as a witness.

  • Take as many photos as possible of the defect next to rulers showing its height or next to coins/matchboxes/cigarette packets for scale.
  • Check for grass or debris that shows how long it had been there.
  • Ask nearby householders.
  • Photograph it and go to a solicitor as soon as possible and before you report it to the council

Why? After taking no notice of the defect for months if you report an accident to the council they immediately go out and repair it. This wipes out your evidence. You need to prove how deep it was and what made it dangerous. You need evidence of its dimensions.

The council almost always say that they had recently inspected the area and it was within acceptable parameters so you need evidence to suggest how long it had been there for.

Your partner (who is a named driver) crashes your car with you as a passenger you can sue (even though the insurance for the car is in your name and you are suing your own insurance company.)

Why? You are covered when you are a passenger even though the insurance is in your own name. A surprising number of husbands and wives crash the car with the other as a passenger. They and all the children can pursue a claim against the driver. You lose the no claims bonus but the damages more than off-set this and the damage to the vehicle claim if comprehensive means that this would have been lost anyway.

If you have your own legal expense insurance (either through your car insurance or contents insurance) you do not have to use their solicitors. You have a statutory right to your own choice of solicitors

Under the Insurance Companies (Legal Expense Insurance) Regulations 1996 which implements a European Community directive that you have the right to your own choice of solicitor when proceedings are brought. The Legal Expense Insurers do not publicise and you are usually directed to one of their panel solicitors. There are advantages to the insurers in you utilising their panel solicitors. Such firms may put the interests of the insurers before your own as they are dependant upon them for business. The companies frequently have special arrangements with such firms to do the work cheaply and to minimise claims against the insurers. This frequently means lack-lustre low grade staff dealing with your claim on the cheapest basis possible and this is reflected in damages recovered.

We deal with many transfers from other solicitors, the majority of which are dissatisfied clients of legal expense insurance solicitors from “up-country” who are doing a poor job. Their clients have difficulty contacting or communicating with them and need decent experienced solicitors to sort out their case.

We have taken over cases and won substantial damages in cases which have been rejected by legal expenses insurance solicitors or where clients have been recommended to accept poor settlements.

Fall at Work

If you trip, slip or injure yourself at work there are so many work regulations that in most cases some liability will attach to the employers. In some cases the employers would prefer that you sue them

Why? If you are absent and make a claim your loss of wages are paid by the insurance company rather than the company and they do not actually lose any kind of no claims bonus. It is to their financial advantage.

Things you shouldn’t do

If you get assaulted and want to make a claim don’t have a criminal record, don’t do anything that could be construed as provocation such as swearing, getting into an argument or agree to a fight (even if the attacker then uses a weapon).

Why? The Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme regulations require previous conduct, provocation and criminal record to be taken into account and only award compensation to those deserving of an award.

If you have a whiplash injury do not wear an orthopaedic collar to the doctors or solicitors.

Why? The latest guidelines suggest that most neck injuries should not be immobilised as this makes recovery more difficult and prolonged. Collars are only likely to be prescribed in cases of neck fractures. The other reason is that patient wearing a collar when this has not been prescribed is usually seen as a malingerer exaggerating their symptoms by doctors and everyone else involved in the process.

If you have a back injury do not go to bed to rest it for a week

Why? Unless you have a spinal fracture the usual advice is to try and gently mobilise the back otherwise the back will stiffen up and get worse and worse. However you must follow your doctor’s advice and this does not mean you should do heavy lifting or strenuous activity.

Don’t exaggerate your claim or lie about even a small part of it.

Why? The Domino Theory. If the Judge or the Defendant or their insurance company catch you out about one small thing they will not believe anything you say about all other parts. The danger with someone with a good case tells one small lie and loses all of the whole claim even the valid parts due to a concept known as “fundamental dishonesty” whereby if one small part of your claim is fundamentally dishonest you lose everything.

Do not expect anyone to believe that you were just about to earn lots of money in a business that you were about to set up unless you had done something concrete about setting it up.

Why? This is because the Judge and the Defendants will be looking for something to back up your story. So many people claim that they were just about to set up a lucrative business but have been prevented by an accident that they are very cynical.

Don’t think you can con the examining doctor into thinking your injuries are worse than they really are.

Why? Medico-Legal Experts/Orthopaedic Consultants are experienced in the system and know that some people try and fool them. They know that their opinion has to be able to withstand being challenged in court. They have the experience of the injuries. You are likely to be discreetly watched entering the examination room and undressing for discrepancies with what you say and is found upon examination. There are sophisticated tests such as “Waddells Tests” to detect restricted movements and unusual pain patterns.

Security Footage

Don’t get caught by video surveillance doing something you have said you cannot do.

Why? Insurance Companies and their solicitors arrange for enquiry agents and detectives to follow accident victims and video them performing tasks and moving freely. A favourite place is when leaving a Defendant’s medical examination but also when leaving home or work and when shopping. A picture is worth a thousand words and such a video can scupper a claim in court.

Don’t use Claims Management Companies or Solicitors advertising on daytime TV.

Why? This is because they usually just sell your case on to someone. Its only when you fully go into the detail of the arrangements that you find out that they are not in it for you. High charge-out rates, high credit rates, expensive insurance policies, too quick under-settlements inexperienced staff with no local knowledge of doctors and the courts mean that you end up with deductions from low settlement.

Don’t think that Judges/Solicitors/Defendants/Insurance Companies are stupid.

Why? They do the job day in day out and have seen it all before.

Fail to check with decent experienced solicitors whether you have a claim.

Why? Unless you are familiar with the system you are unlikely to be able to say whether someone has a good claim. Everyone has an opinion, many of which are inaccurate or based upon sensationalist press reports. The line between having a claim and not is often very thin!

Don’t believe what people say about how much your claim may be worth.

Why? The headlines in the press are only for the unusual and exceptional. They usually include loss of earnings of high earners and you never hear about the appeal. Most people think awards are like those in America. Until final detailed medical reports are available no one can accurately predict what figure an injury might be worth as it mostly depends upon the length of recovery.

Don’t spend or commit your damages until they are in your hand.

Why? It can take ages to get damages out of the court system even after an award and the sanctions against the insurance companies are not very effective.

Don’t make the wrong impression to the judge in court.

Why? It shouldn’t matter but it probably does. Don’t snigger, laugh or sneer at the other side giving evidence as it goes down terribly badly. Do dress sensibly to avoid stereotypes. The one time you don’t necessarily want to wear street clothes is your day in court.

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Working with personal injury claims in the areas of Plymouth and Cornwall, Richard Harris has over 30 years of experience.

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In most cases 25% of your damages is deducted for your own legal costs and you will not have to pay anything if you lose.

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Specialist Areas

As a personal injury solicitors practise we cover a range specialist areas using our deep and detailed knowledge base.

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