Personal Injury Claims Portal blog
As of 31st July 2013, any personal injury claim below the value of £25,000 is dealt with in what is known as the Electronic Claims Portal. The Portal was approved by the Ministry of Justice in 2010 and aims to provide a secure, efficient, easy-to-use and low cost medium to administer personal injury claims. An important idea behind the Portal is that as it is easy to use (in theory if not always in practice!) Claimants can submit their claims without recourse to legal representation, thus lowering costs.
Here, we attempt to provide a walk-through guide to how the Portal works:
The first thing to do when faced with a personal injury claim is establish whether the claim is a road traffic accident, public liability or employer liability claim. This is important because when submitting a claim on the portal there are two different notification forms; one for road traffic accidents, and another for public liability and employer liability claims.
Once it has been decided what sort of claim is being pursued, it’s time to submit a Claim Notification Form (or CNF). A CNF is essentially an application form setting out the details of both sides, details of the accident, injuries sustained, and why the other side is at fault.
If all the mandatory information on the form is completed, the claim can be submitted to the other side, i.e. the party at fault’s insurance company. The Portal imposes deadlines on the insurers at this stage to try to make the system more efficient. For road traffic accidents, the insurers have 15 working days to respond to the claim and accept or deny fault. For employer liability claims the deadline is extended to 30 working days and for public liability claims it is 40 working days.
Three things can potentially occur on or before these deadlines.
The insurers do not respond to the claim within the time scale. In this instance the claim ‘times out’ of the Portal, i.e. the claim is no longer administered by the electronic Portal and different rules apply. The insurers now have three months from the date the CNF was sent to respond to the claim.
The insurers deny that the accident was their fault. Here the insurers give brief reasons why they have come to this decision in the Portal. However, again, the claim exits the Portal and different rules apply.
The insurers admit that the accident was their fault. In this event, the claim will proceed to the next stage of the Portal.
Once the other insurers have accepted that their insured was at fault, the Claimant must document their losses. First of all, it is necessary to obtain a medical report. This involves contacting a medical expert and attending an examination. The medical report detailing the extent of the Claimant’s injuries is then used to calculate the value of the claim i.e. how much the Claimant should be owed due to the injuries they have suffered. Legal representatives with experience in the field can do this accurately on your behalf.
It also necessary to document any loss of earnings, expenses and other losses at this stage of the claim. For any losses claimed it will also be necessary to attach evidence such as a backlog of payslips. Each of these losses will amount to the value of the claim which is then submitted as an offer to the other side’s insurers to settle the claim once and for all.
The insurers then have 15 working days to consider and respond to the offer made.
If they fail to the respond to the offer, again, the claim will exit the Portal and proceed under different rules.
If they accept the offer, they must pay the agreed amount to the Claimant within 10 days of settlement.
If they make a counter-offer, the parties are permitted a further 20 days of negotiation to try to come to an agreement. Again, in the event of an agreement the full amount must be paid within 10 days.
If the parties still cannot come to an agreement, then the parties will file the claim at court.
As is clear here, the rules of the Portal can, at times, be confusing and messy. Our opinion is that it remains very difficult for a Claimant to submit their claim without legal representation. Therefore, our advice is don’t try this yourself and seek a legal expert to file your claim on your behalf. Please do contact me or any one of our Personal Injury Team.