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Title: Has lawyer's lateness ruined my accident claim?

Date: 25 May 2016

Question

I am not best pleased. I had what I thought was a fairly simple accident claim albeit with serious injuries that have affected my job as a junior doctor but from a liability perspective should have presented little difficulty.

However (and I now wish I had done my own research as to lawyers) my solicitors which were appointed not by me but my insurer with their recommendation have missed what I understand to be an important deadline – the point at which action must be taken to progress a claim by issuing a claim form at court. They say they are trying to sort it out and not to worry about it.

That letter concerns me. Surely this is a big problem and is like me missing a time sensitive diagnosis?!

Edward Beale, Salcombe

Answer

You are well justified in being deeply concerned. In personal injury claims arising from road traffic accidents (other than in rare circumstances) court proceedings have to be commenced by issuing the claim at court by the third anniversary of the accident otherwise the claim becomes statute barred – in other words you cannot pursue it without permission of the court. Failing to issue a claim within the prescribed time limit is prima facie negligence.

It sounds like your solicitors are hoping they can persuade their opponent or even ultimately a judge to disregard the time limit but the problem they face is based in statute and they may well find that the judge, rather than assisting your lawyers, deems the claim struck out, and directs you to your solicitor’s insurers to pursue a negligence claim against them. I suggest you seek independent advice as to such a claim against them.

You should be able to find a lawyer who will take this on for you under a no-win, no-fee agreement although they are likely to advise that you wait until the current solicitors have exhausted their efforts to try and rectify this first so you are not accused of acting prematurely.

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