Sandgate Law

Questions and Answers

How will Sandgate Law handle my claim?

The procedure is really very straight-forward. We listen to you. We take a full statement and establish the facts in your case. We will write to the person, group or company that we think has caused your accident or injury, explaining that we are your lawyers and that we are pursuing a claim on your behalf. We set out the legal basis of your claim and ask the other party to inform their insurers that a claim is being made against them. At this stage we will normally be dealing directly with the other party’s insurers. We will seek to negotiate settlement of your claim. If the insurers are unwilling to reach a satisfactory settlement then we will discuss with you the possibility of litigation (raising a court action on your behalf).

Do I have a claim?

We need to speak to you to establish all the facts in your case before we can say for sure whether you have a reasonable prospect of making a successful claim. Cases fall generally into two categories: Firstly, cases where you have to show that someone’s negligence has caused your accident or injury. These cases include road traffic accidents and slips, trips and falls on the public pavement or road or within shops and private property. Secondly, cases where your claim is covered by legislation designed to give workers and members of the public redress when they are injured as a result of an accident. These cases cover all accidents at work, dog-bite cases and cases where a consumer has been injured as a result of a defective product. Whether you have a claim within this category will depend on how the facts of your case relate to the legislation. In either case you need to speak to us to get advice.

I was injured at work, can I make a claim?

Almost certainly! UK Health and Safety legislation has been passed which is designed to give workers protection from injury and illness sustained at work. The legislation is based on European guidelines and directives. In some cases the fact that an accident has occurred at all is enough to establish a breach of legislation. Alternatively, if a worker is injured at work then the onus may be on the employer to show that there were no reasonably practicable steps they could have taken to reduce the risk of an accident occurring. This is a very high standard for an employer to meet and we believe that is how it should be! People who raise objections to tough health and safety legislation which is designed to protect workers are unlikely themselves to be working with dangerous tools or in noisy and dusty conditions or to be exposed to chemicals or to be working at height or to be lifting heavy weights etc. You need to speak to our solicitors who can give you full advice.

I think I was unfairly dismissed, what can you do for me?

It is essential that you seek legal advice without delay. We will listen to you and establish all the facts related to your dismissal. We will advise on the prospects of your claim for unfair dismissal. If we believe that your case has merits we will make an application to the Employment Tribunal on your behalf. We can act under legal aid cover, on a no-win-no-fee basis or on a client-funding basis.  

Will I need a medical examination?

Yes, you need to have a medical examination in most cases where you are claiming damages for personal injury. In very minor cases it may be possible to negotiate a settlement in the absence of a medical report but this would be unusual. The basis for negotiating settlement of your claim with an insurer is normally to provide the insurer with a medical report which describes the nature and extent of your injuries. Basically, the more seriously injured you are then the more compensation you will be entitled to. We will arrange for you to be examined by our own medical expert. It does not matter if the symptoms from which you were suffering have completely resolved by the time you see our expert. Our expert will provide an opinion in their report about the extent of your injuries and the severity of your symptoms.

Will I qualify for Legal Aid?

You have to satisfy the Scottish Legal Aid Board that you qualify for legal aid on both financial and legal grounds. We will make the application for you and will give you full advice on this when you call. Firstly, there is a “financial eligibility” test. If you are on a low income or are on benefits you should qualify on this ground. If you are claiming for a child, the child will qualify on financial grounds.  Secondly, you must have a “statable case”. Basically if you have a sound legal basis for your case then you should satisfy this part of the “test”. Again we can give you full advice when you call. Alternatively, you can visit the Scottish Legal Aid Board’s website for more information.

How does No-Win-No-Fee work?

If we were acting for you on a no-win-no-fee basis, we would sign an agreement with you called a “Fee Agreement”. The full details of the agreement would be set out for you to examine before you sign. In terms of the agreement you pay us NOTHING if we are unable to settle your case. If we WIN your case then, in terms of the agreement, you may have to pay us a percentage of the compensation we recover on your behalf. We will discuss the details with you when you call, however, the percentage you pay us will never under any circumstances exceed 25% of your compensation and will usually be significantly less than this.

How long does a claim take?

The first thing to be aware of is that in most cases you have 3 years from the date of your accident to either settle your case or raise a court action.  If you don't, your case may be time-barred. If you are worried about possible time-bar then call us immediately for advice. When you instruct us, we will write to the other party involved and “intimate” your claim. That party will normally inform their insurers that there is a claim against them. The insurers then have 3 months to investigate the claim. After this time the insurers should either accept or reject liability for your claim. At this stage, we will arrange a medical examination for you with a view to obtaining a medical report. If the insurers accept liability then we will send the medical report to them with our own views on how much your claim is worth. We will then seek to negotiate settlement. If the insurers reject liability then we will discuss with you the possibility of raising a court action on your behalf. The time from instructing us to the time of agreeing settlement terms or raising a court action can be between 6 and 18 months, depending on the complexity of your case.

Will my claim cost me if I withdraw early?

If you instruct us and we begin to work on your case and you then decide to withdraw, you may be liable to pay our costs and any outlays that we have incurred such as for medical or other expert reports. The full details relating to this situation will be set out in our “Fee Agreement”. You pay nothing for an initial consultation and, by consulting us, you will have no obligation to then instruct us to act.

Will a fully-qualified solicitor be assigned to my case?

Yes, you will always speak to one of our solicitors directly. Your solicitor will be your point of contact throughout your case. You will not have a “claims handler” dealing with your case. If you are tempted to call an “Accident Claims Firm” as often seen advertised on TV then be aware that most of these companies are NOT solicitors. They make their money by taking your personal details and passing them on to a 3rd party firm of solicitors. In these circumstances you are very unlikely to know which firm of solicitors your details will be passed to. You almost certainly won’t know where that solicitor has their office and you won’t know whether a qualified solicitor will be dealing directly with your case. Our view is that you should be speaking directly to a solicitor to get legal advice.

What if I have a complaint against Sandgate Law?

In the first instance you can call our Client Relations Director, Jim McManus. He will discuss your complaint or concerns in detail and will arrange to meet you in our office should you wish. If you do not get satisfaction or, in any case, it is always open to you to contact the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission who will investigate matters on your behalf. They can be contacted at: Scottish Legal Complaints Commission The Stamp Office 10-14 Waterloo Place Edinburgh EH1 3EG TEL: 0131 2012130

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