What Is The Industrial Disease Claims Process?

Why Do I Need to Know the Claims Process?

Whilst it is advisable to retain a firm of solicitors with expertise in the area of industrial disease, any sensible claimant should also be familiar with the claims process in their own right. This will enable you to check that your solicitor is managing the case properly.

Initial Investigation

Before anything else happens, your solicitor should conduct an initial interview with you, to establish that you really have a credible chance of success and that your claim has been brought within the limitation period (normally three years from knowledge of the injury). They may also wish to conduct an investigation of their own, which may include asking for your medical records, any details you have of your contract of employment, and so on. If they are satisfied that there is sufficient prospect of success to offer a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement, then they will proceed with what is known as the Pre-Action Protocol. If your case is complicated and involves more than one potential defendant, they will be able to advise you on whether to begin action against all defendants, or only one.

Pre-Action Protocol

The Pre-Action Protocol is a series of voluntary steps, laid down by the Ministry of Justice. Whilst you do not strictly need to follow the entire protocol, it is wise to do so. Deviating too far from the procedure may aggravate the court and open you up to additional cost awards. Whilst your solicitor should be familiar with the steps in the Protocol, it is worth downloading a copy for yourself so as to familiarise yourself with what will happen. The process will begin with your Letter Of Claim being sent to the defendant, who should then forward it to their insurer. The defendant will need either to accept liability, or to deny it and send a Letter Of Response, setting out why they think your claim is misguided.

As well as setting out a timetable for the first parts of the claim process, the Pre-Action Protocol also urges both parties in the case to attempt resolution of the matter before it gets to court, either through settlement offers or some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution. It also urges those involved to agree on a medical expert so as to cut down on costs. Whilst neither of these things are obligatory, keep in mind that attempting them will prove that you want your claim to be settled fairly.

What to Expect In Court

Most industrial disease claims are settled outside of the courtroom. However, sometimes a defendant decides to fight a case which your solicitor is convinced you are likely to win. In these instances, unless the claim is very simple, a specialist barrister will be retained to represent you in court. You will probably be called upon to give evidence as a witness, along with anyone else who was involved. As long as you tell the truth, don’t embellish, and remember what is in your witness statement, you will be fine!

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