This article was featured in the March/April 2015 edition of Claims Magazine.
In the post Jackson era maximising a client’s damages in my opinion has never been more important and more challenging.
With the portal costs or fixed costs you don’t receive payment to carry out the same level of investigations, a claim needs to be dealt with quickly and efficiently but carefully to ensure you are not short changing your client for the future.
Heads of Damages that may be important and that could dramatically change the value of your claim and let’s face it we all want to turn our cases from portal/fixed costs to standard costs and if we can’t get into standard costs with the clients being forced to contribute to their legal costs in spite of them being the innocent victim the more compensation our clients receive the larger the client’s contribution becomes.
Care & Assistance is an easy head of damage to add value to your clients claim. A few easy questions about your clients lifestyle and the chores that they would normally carry out that they now need assistance with , just a couple of hours a week for a few weeks at a discounted rate due to the gratuitous nature of the care provided can quickly add £300 plus to the overall value.
Loss of Earnings is often a part of the claim that is always included, it is normally the first thing that your client is concerned with, are they going to get paid if they are off sick from work?
As soon as I see a client works within the NHS is a teacher or as soon as a client says the words I didn’t suffer any loss of earnings I was paid in full, a warning bell rings in my mind – have you looked properly at your clients contact of employment does it state that if you make a claim any sick pay is to be recovered from the third party. The average wage in the UK is £26,500.00 this breaks down as Monthly £1747.89, weekly £403.36 daily £80.67. A couple of weeks off work could potentially increase the value of your clients claim
Travel Expenses which can be discounted as being insignificant due to being a few pounds per trip can mount up surprisingly quickly. With trips to hospital for friends and family, the client has a course of treatment for example physiotherapy. It is easy to broad brush £25/£35 for travel expenses however if your physiotherapy appointment at the hospital is 5 miles away that is a round trip of 10 miles each visit. This is £4 a trip factor in your £2 parking per trip and at 8 sessions of physiotherapy very quickly you are at £48.00 for the cost of travelling to attend physiotherapy before you start thinking about trips to see your GP/Dentist/Consultant at hospital.
Treatment costs especially private treatment can be costly. If your client has scarring something should be thought about is cosmetic makeup this would also include makeup brushes, makeup remover, cleaning pads with desktop reports readily available as with the rise of camera phones scarring is easier than ever to photograph and send through to the appropriate expert. It is likely that your costing would include an initial consultation. These losses are all heads of damage that would carry on into the future.
If your client has Private Health Care does the outlay for this treatment need to be recovered and included within your claim?
Checking the medical report
Within a medical report if a medical expert attributes on-going permanent symptoms to your client it can be easy to overlook that this could lead to claims for future losses.
For example – gardening required over the summer months can add up to a considerable amount factor in DIY jobs that your client may now struggle to this can add up.
That one night a week that they can no-longer cook tea, or the heavy chores around the house that they now no longer carry out, 30 minutes an hour a week can quickly mount up over a lifetime.
When you speak to people, how many people stay in the same job that they trained for – in a difficult economic climate a plumber may well stay within the trade industry but if they have to change speciality as those on-going niggling pains make an aspect of their job difficult to do there is a costs associated with getting a new qualification it may only be a few hundred pounds but it all adds up.
Can you client no-longer carry out their job which was a real passion being a nurse or a fireman for example do you need to consider a claim for loss of congenial employment.
If your client is left with permanent injuries it is likely your client will change jobs in the future, are they going to be disadvantaged on the open labour market, adding this into your schedule can be a good negotiating tool.
A well thought out schedule carefully detailed within stage 2 of the portal can take you straight out of stage 2 and into standard costs, it can also frightened the third party they may be less likely to mess around and make you a sensible offer in that one document you have shown them that you mean business and know exactly what your client is entitled to be compensated for.
One call to a client and having a good chat with them asking a few specific questions can dramatically change the value of your claim and may take us out of the dread portal/fixed costs and straight into the standard costs.
Protecting your reputation
We all want to ensure that we act in our clients best interests and ensure they receive the maximum amount of compensation that they are entitled to with the added bonus of ensuring that a potential negligence claim is not brought further down the line as I am sure that we have all heard the adverts that have changed from have you had an accident in the last 3 years to did you receive the correct amount of compensation for your claim.