This week, I have settled a claim for a client who had suffered from an exacerbation to a pre-existing back injury following a road traffic accident. Mrs Thomas had a long history of back pain and had even undertaken spinal surgery prior to the accident. At the time of the accident she suffered regularly from back pain, and took regular medication for this, but she was recovering well from the surgery and her symptoms were under control.
However, after the accident Mrs Thomas experienced a significant increase in her symptoms and was forced to increase her medication to deal with this. In addition to her physical injuries, Mrs Thomas also suffered from a range of psychological symptoms including anxiety and a loss of confidence; feeling fearful that she would be involved in another accident which might further increase her back pain, and even leave her in the position that she had been before she had undertaken surgery.
Liability was admitted immediately by the third party insurer and they made a ‘pre-medical’ offer of £1,000 to Mrs Thomas. By its nature, a pre-medical offer is an offer made without any medical evidence, and so at that stage the third party insurer had no idea how severe, or indeed how minor, Mrs Thomas’ injuries might be.
We advised Mrs Thomas that the best course of action would be to proceed to obtain medical evidence from a qualified Orthopaedic Surgeon in order to ensure that she received the correct amount of compensation for the injuries she had sustained, and we subsequently also obtained a medical report from a Clinical Psychologist.
The medical evidence was recently disclosed to the third party insurer and settlement has been agreed in the sum of £10,000 – 10 times the pre-medical offer that was initially made. The offer includes the cost of private treatment which recommended by the medical expert, and so Mrs Thomas will be able to avoid lengthy NHS waiting lists.
In this particular case, Mrs Thomas had accepted the pre-medical offer then not only would she not have been compensated correctly for the pain and suffering she has experienced, she also wouldn’t have had the money to pay for private treatment to assist in her recovery.
I would always advise any client to proceed to obtain medical evidence rather than accept a pre-medical offer to ensure that they receive the compensation they deserve. It might suit the needs of an insurance company to make a low offer to deal with the claim quickly, but it is our job to make sure that any offer will suit the needs of the injured person at the heart of the claim.