Welcome to the latest in our new series of departmental specific newsletters. Our focus this month is on our Personal Injury department.
Kate Oldfield – head of our Personal Injury department – discusses what you need to do if you have an accident abroad…
The holiday season is upon us and many of us will be making preparations for our trips abroad. However, all the preparation in the world may not necessarily lead to a completely problem-free holiday and accidents can happen.
Firstly, you must always make sure you have a European Health Insurance Card if travelling in Europe and also travel insurance wherever you go. However, if an accident does happen on your holiday which was not your fault, then you might also be able to make a personal injury claim. How such a claim is dealt with depends on the nature and location of your holiday.
Under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992, if you suffer an accident whilst on a package holiday then you can bring a personal injury claim here in the UK against the holiday organiser, retailer or tour operator.
It’s important to note that you can only bring a claim if the accident was not your fault and occurred at your hotel complex or on a tour provided as part of your holiday. Examples of such claims include badly maintained accommodation or food poisoning acquired at your hotel. Please bear in mind that a claim will be difficult to establish if the accident was your fault (for example, if you were under the influence of alcohol) or if you contracted food poisoning after eating at a number of eating establishments. Also, if an accident occurred away from your package holiday or on an independent excursion, then a claim cannot be brought under these regulations – please see the “Independent Traveller” section.
If you are involved in an accident, make sure you:-
• report it to your tour representative at the resort and the hotel management, and ask for a copy of the entry in the accident book;
• contact your travel insurance company immediately;
• if you require medical assistance, ensure you ask for a copy of the medical report and keep your receipts for any medical and travel expenses;
• try to obtain names and contact details of those involved and any witnesses and take photographs of what caused the accident and your injuries; and
• remember to keep all of your travel documentation, receipts and paperwork.
If all the relevant evidence is kept, you should be able to claim for loss of enjoyment and your out-of-pocket expenses, as well as your pain and suffering.
If you have been involved in an accident on a package holiday, please contact our Personal Injury department (https://www.dbf-law.co.uk/personal-injury-claims/) and we will be happy to discuss helping you to make a claim.
Road Traffic Accidents
If you are involved in a road traffic accident in an EU country, you can bring a claim against the foreign third party insurer in the UK. We are able to locate the UK representative of the foreign insurance company and deal with the claim in your country and in your language.
If you are involved in such a road traffic accident, make sure you:-
• call the police and obtain a copy of the police report;
• make notes and take photographs of what happened, the vehicle registration plates and the positions of the vehicles;
• exchange insurance details and obtain contact details of any witnesses;
• say as little as possible – DO NOT admit liability, apologise or sign any documents, other than the European Accident Statement or “Constat Amiable” (which is a means of ensuring that the parties exchange the relevant information); and
• contact your insurance company as soon as possible.
The law of the country in which the accident occurred will be applied and that means that the way in which the claim is processed or the amount of compensation available may be different than here in the UK.
Independent Travellers or Non-EU Road Traffic Accidents
If you are involved in an accident on a non-package holiday or in a road traffic accident in a country outside the EU, then a personal injury claim will usually be brought in the country where the accident occurred. This can be a complicated procedure, but we will be able to refer you to a solicitor in that country who has knowledge of the applicable law and processes.
In the case of such an accident, make sure you also contact your travel insurance provider or make a claim on your European Health Insurance Card as these can be less complicated claims.
To learn more about Kate and her work, please visit:
TEAM SPOTLIGHT: Ashi Arora, chartered legal executive in our Personal Injury team…
What does your role at Davis Blank Furniss involve?
I am a chartered legal executive and an associate in the Personal Injury department helping people who have been injured in accidents through no fault of their own.
What is the best thing about your job?
It is very satisfying at the end of a case when a client has been properly compensated for the injuries that they have sustained.
What is the best case you have been involved in?
No two cases are the same but it is rewarding to recover compensation that will make a real difference to someone’s life.
Name the person who has been the biggest influence on your career.
My late father. He always encouraged me to do well and taught me that with hard work and determination there is no limit to what can be achieved.
If you were not a lawyer, what would you be doing?
My motto is ‘have bags will travel’. When I win the lottery this is what I will do!
Joshua Bragg – trainee solicitor in our Personal Injury department – discusses undersettling cases…
There are a number factors involved in valuing a personal injury claim and the valuation process can be complicated.
Firstly, compensation can be claimed for the pain and suffering experienced in an accident. Solicitors will ask a medical expert to give their professional opinion on the extent of an injured person’s injuries and their expected recovery time. This provides the evidence for a solicitor to value the person’s injuries based on previous decisions made by the courts.
Secondly, compensation will be claimed for a person’s financial losses directly caused by the accident. For example, loss of earnings, loss of pension, medical expenses and cost of care required after an accident.
Finally, compensation will be claimed for a person’s potential future losses; for example, future care and support, adaptations to their home, workplace and car, and further surgery and medical treatment.
Such a compensation valuation is not an exact science and solicitors may not always be able to value it precisely. They may also need to discount the valuation in order to take into account the possibility that the injured person may lose their case if it went to court. However, solicitors must take all the necessary steps to ensure the claim is valued properly and this involves obtaining all the necessary medical evidence, considering all the relevant types of loss that a person may have incurred, and taking into account all pertinent factors.
If you were involved in a claim which was settled and the solicitor representing you did not carry out all of these steps, then there is a chance that they might have not have obtained for you all the compensation you were reasonably entitled to.
If your claim has been undersettled, then it is not usually possible to re-open your case. However, you may be able to bring a professional negligence claim against your previous solicitor.
Reasons for Undersettlement
Currently, there are many financial pressures in the personal injury arena and advisers are only able to recover fixed fees at the end of the case, rather than the actual costs they incurred. This means there is a lot of pressure on claims handlers to settle claims as quickly as possible without incurring too much cost.
To keep costs low, many firms employ junior or unqualified staff. Also firms of solicitors are settling claims without medical evidence or proper evaluation of the medical evidence.
If you have suffered an injury then your representative is under a duty to discuss the case in full with you, discuss different areas of compensation and review the medical evidence correctly. Claimants should not be short-changed.
What We Do
We make sure that we spend the time needed to ensure that your claim is properly carried out and that you get all the compensation you deserve. All areas of your potential compensation are considered and we review all evidence obtained correctly. All our claim handlers have proper experience and training.
If you feel that your case was not handled correctly and you may have undersettled your claim, Kate Oldfield (https://www.dbf-law.co.uk/our-people/Kate-Oldfield/) our head of Personal Injury, would be happy to discuss this with you.