Every solicitor will need to prepare your whiplash claim as if it was going to go to a final Court hearing. In the majority of cases this will not happen, but your solicitor must always prepare for the worst case scenario. Therefore, they have to obtain as much evidence to support your claim as possible. The most important evidence that is needed relates to your medical condition.
If you have suffered a whiplash injury, your solicitor will need to obtain details of your medical history to ensure that you have not suffered previously with any neck problems. They will ask you to complete a form of medical authority which will allow them to write to your General Practitioner and obtain copies of your medical notes. They will also write to the Accident & Emergency Department if you attended hospital to obtain copies of the notes for your visit.
Reviewing The Medical Notes. Once they have received the medical notes, they will review them to ensure that the evidence supports your claim for pain and suffering. They do not do this to challenge your evidence, merely to support your evidence. They also need to examine the notes to see whether you have had any previous neck problems and to see whether the accident has aggravated those.
Instructing A Medical Eexpert. Once they have reviewed your medical notes your solicitor will have to instruct a medical expert to carry out a medical assessment. This could either be a General Practitioner or an Orthopaedic Surgeon. Before they can instruct an expert they have to agree the choice of expert with the other driver's insurance company or solicitor. This usually happens by sending a choice of three potential experts, one of which is then approved by the insurers.
Once the name has been agreed your solicitor will send a letter of instruction detailing the circumstances of the accident and your subsequent injuries. A date will be arranged for you to attend a medical examination (you are normally welcome to take a friend or your partner with you) and a relatively brief review of your medical condition will be carried out. The Doctor will ask you to turn your head left and right, backwards and forwards, to assess any limits in the range of movements as a result of your injuries.
He will ask about your pre-accident medical history and will also have reviewed your medical notes (and reviewed the report from your solicitor).
Once the examination is complete you will leave the Doctor and he will prepare a report. You will be able to claim any travelling expenses to attend the appointment as part of your legal claim for compensation.
Sometime later the report will be received by your solicitor and will be reviewed to support your claim for compensation.
Other Evidence To Support Your Injuries. In addition to the medical evidence, if your injuries are relatively severe your solicitor may obtain statements from members of your family, your partner and friends. This will be important to detail the impact the injury has had on your day to day living. The other witnesses will be asked to attend the solicitor or he may interview them in their own home.
Other Evidence To Support Your Losses And Expenses. In addition to the evidence from the medical expert and witness statements, you will be asked to keep all receipts and wage slips (if you lost earnings) so that your solicitor can prepare a full and detailed account of your losses. The document he will prepare is called a 'Schedule of Special Damages'.
Your solicitor will need all documentation so that he can prove to the other side (and to the Court if necessary) that you incurred these expenses and lost earnings or made other losses as a result of the accident. The documents required might include:-
Wage slips (to show loss of earnings, bonuses and promotions etc). Receipts for repairs to your car. Car hire receipts (for a replacement car). Medication. Treatment receipts (e.g. physiotherapy or chiropractic treatment).
All of this evidence is required so that your claim for pain and suffering and the losses attached to it can be presented to the other side and to the Court.
Read more about Accident Claims Scotland? Nick Jervis is a Solicitor (non-practising) and consultant to Edinburgh Solicitor and Personal Injury Specialist Stan Moffat of Moffat and Co.