Some of our clients had initial reservations about making claims against third parties. Many of such reservations are unfounded. We explain.
Therefore, we recommend that the following steps be taken if you intend to initiate a claim:
1. Contact your lawyer. Often, lawyers do not charge for first consultations of such cases.
2. See a doctor within 1 - 2 days if you have not already been sent to the hospital by an ambulance from the accident scene. Describe your symptoms carefully and slowly, making sure that the attending doctor records all your complaints. If your injuries are not very serious and you do not need attention at a hospital, we recommend you visit a private doctor. This is as in general, private doctors see less patients and will spend more time taking clinical notes and listening to you.
3. Keep all bills and medical leave certificates issued by the doctors.
4. Seek the appropriate treatments recommended by a doctor recognised by the Singapore Medical Council. Do note that expenses incurred in certain treatments such as traditional chinese medicine (TCM) and chiropractic treatments may not be recoverable, unless you have been recommended by such a doctor and believe that such treatments are beneficial for you.
5. Keep a short journal and jot down all the symptoms you may experience, such as aches or pains in the back, neck, headaches, giddiness, inability to fall asleep etc
6. Keep all accident reports and potential police investigation results.
Initiating the Claim
7. Your lawyer will prepare brief(s) to commission medical reports from your doctors. She will also apply for all the relevant documents that are essential in assessing your claim such as the accident reports filed by all parties, vehicle damage reports, police investigation results etc.
(This will generally take about 3 - 4 months, longer if your condition has not stabilised.)
8. All injury claims within the jurisdiction of the Subordinate Courts (i.e. below $250,000) are governed by the Pre Action Protocol for Personal Injury Claims. Pursuant to the Protocol, a letter of demand has to be issued to the third party and his insurer. His insurer will have to acknowledge the claim in two weeks. If his insurer fails to do so, you may commence legal action immediately against the third party.
9. If the insurer acknowledges the claim in two weeks, the insurer will have to reply with a substantive reply (such as whether it is resisting the claim, or making a reasonable offer) within 6 weeks. If a settlement is not reached within these weeks, you may then commence legal action.
Commencing Legal Action
10. Your lawyer will prepare the relevant court documents and file them into court.
11. If your claim is within the jurisdiction of the Subordinate Courts, the matter will be referred to Court Dispute Resolution (Court led mediation) for both issues of liability and quantum.
12. Generally, a matter is resolved within 12 - 18 months from the issuance of the Writ of Summons.
Please contact your lawyer to find out more regarding the detailed legal procedures involved.