Despite years of protests and campaigns by claimant solicitors, the Government still refuses to ban insurers from making what are known as ‘pre-medical’ or ‘pre-med’ offers.
You may have first hand experience of just how quickly another driver’s insurance company will contact you following an accident if their insured driver was at fault. The insurer will enquire as to whether or not you have been injured and, if so, they often follow up with an offer to pay you £1,000 or so in compensation with the promise that the cheque will be sent out that day.
This practice is known as ‘third party capture’. Insurance companies are in business to make a profit and have to account to their shareholders. Therefore, it is in their interests (and it is indeed their goal) to ensure that the money paid out each year to people injured by their insured drivers is reduced by as much as possible.
As £1,000 is usually the very least that an injured claimant can expect to receive in a successful injury claim, getting as many injured claimants as possible to accept £1,000 straightaway and without taking legal advice saves insurance companies millions of pounds each year – if it didn’t, it would not be such a widespread practice and the insurers would not lobby the Government so vehemently to prevent the practice becoming outlawed.
This is why it is so important to take legal advice. As solicitors, our duty of care is to you, the injured claimant. Our aim is to ensure that you receive proper treatment and obtain full medical reports on your injuries before the level of compensation is even considered. We also apply for early interim payments to alleviate any financial hardship wherever possible and compile the necessary evidence to support fully pleaded schedules of loss to make sure that the compensation reflects both your injuries and all financial losses (past and future).
For example, in one of my cases the insurer offered my client £2,000 early on before she instructed me. Over the next 3 years and as we obtained medical reports from different types of expert, the insurers put forward increasing offers of £5,000, £15,000 and £25,000. In the end, my client received over £100,000.
I often receive enquiries from people that have taken early offers from insurers without taking legal advice who then continue to suffer from medical difficulties for some time as a result of their injury. They are keen to find out if they can claim more compensation and this will depend on precisely what information the insurer gave at the time of making their offer and what paperwork, if any, was signed by the injured claimant to accept the offer. We have successfully been able to claim more compensation following acceptance of an insurer’s early pre-med offer but it is much more difficult and, therefore, I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of taking early legal advice if you are injured in an accident. An initial consultation, by phone or in person, will be free of charge and without obligation. Therefore, please do not hesitate to contact your local personal injury solicitor.