The Coronavirus outbreak has certainly turned the world upside down. Many people have had their physical and/or mental health affected and many have had their income and livelihood affected. Others have been luckier and have avoided the virus and adapted their lives to fit with the current situation. It is certainly an uncertain time and those who are in the process of making a personal injury claim or are thinking of doing so will not want the added stress that the current situation may bring.
Firstly it is important to say that coronavirus and the current restrictions should not affect the value of a personal injury claim. Valuations are calculated based on legal guidelines and past case law. The virus hasn’t infected these.
What will be affected is how the claim is run. Solicitors and insurers on both sides have adapted to flexible working with most working from home so that claims can continue to be run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Communication is mainly via telephone or video links in one form or another. The handling of documents is now largely being carried out electronically. On the whole, these methods of communication will speed things up for those that are technologically minded.
The first stage in a personal injury claim is to establish liability. In most cases, investigations into liability should not be affected. In some cases though where businesses have shut down or are temporarily closed because of current restrictions, investigations may take a little longer than normal. It may not be possible to gain access to buildings or documents for inspection.
Once liability is established the next stage is to obtain medical evidence in order to prove that the accident caused the injuries that have been sustained. This will involve an examination by an independent Medico-Legal expert who will then prepare a report. Prior to the outbreak of coronavirus, these examinations were always held at the expert’s examining premise. There has always been a complete ban on Medico-Legal examinations being held by remote video link. As current restrictions do not allow face-to-face examinations the ban has been lifted and in many cases examinations are going ahead by Video link. There are certain cases where an examination by this method is not appropriate and in those cases, the appointments will be arranged when restrictions are lifted sufficiently for them to go ahead face-to-face.
Following the examination, the expert will prepare a report which may give recommendations for treatment such as physiotherapy or CBT. Again these would have taken place on a face-to-face basis. Currently, many therapists are carrying out assessments and sessions also via video link. Whilst this is not ideal in the case of physiotherapy, it is better than no physiotherapy at all. Physiotherapists will still be able to make an assessment and provide an exercise regime to assist Claimants with relieving the effects of their injuries. Claimants do have a duty to mitigate their loss so it is advisable to have physiotherapy by this method rather than waiting until face-to-face sessions can be attended.
Once the medical evidence is complete and all evidence has been obtained to support a Claimant’s loss negotiations can commence so that settlement can be reached.
Many people who are in the middle of making a claim may also be struggling financially, whether this is because they have been furloughed or laid off, or because of the injures they sustained in the accident. It is possible to request an interim payment from the Defendant to help relive this stress. This has always been the case but is something Claimants should consider more now if necessary.
At Ralli, we are striving to ensure that all claims are still dealt with as professionally and expediently as possible during this unprecedented time. If you have any queries regarding making a claim please contact Ralli Ltd on 0161 832 6131.