One of my favourite “job interview” jokes features in various memes on the internet.
HR Manager: “What is your greatest weakness?”
Interviewee : “Honesty.”
HR Manager: “I don’t think honesty is a weakness.”
Interviewee : “I don’t really give a *!@# what you think.”
Of course, interviews are intense, stressful experiences where it seems so much can go wrong, including being “too honest”.
But what if the thing that goes wrong is that you don’t even make it to the interview? What if you make a mistake with the date?
It’s not hard to find this sort of “date error” experience reported on the internet.
“I’ve just come back from my interview at X, which I went to a week early, and took a day off college for.”
“If a candidate turned up a whole week early for an interview, how badly would it affect their chances in your eyes?”
“I’m mortified. I must have misread their email. Do I still have a chance of getting the job?”
“Well, better a week early than a week late!”
The need to keep a diary – and record dates accurately in it – certainly applies in relation to job interviews.
It’s important to create as good an impression as possible with your potential employer. If you miss the interview, you’ll be lucky to get a second chance. If you turn up on the wrong date, but too early, you can still come back at the appointed time but you won’t have demonstrated your organisational skills to any great effect. You need something that will provide a reminder at the appropriate time.
Reminders are also important to solicitors who deal with personal injury claims. A diary system is crucial. In most situations, this is as much for the benefit of the client as the solicitor. So, as I hope you will see from what follows, it is in your interests – as the client of the solicitor – to be aware of time issues and how they might affect your claim.
Why is it important to keep track of time in personal injury claims?
You will probably be aware that personal injury claims have time limits. 3 years is the usual time bar period in Scotland. Within 3 years from the date of your accident, if you have not settled your claim by negotiation, you must raise a court action to keep the claim alive, otherwise it becomes time-barred and unenforceable.
The usual time bar period is not always a straight 3 years. For children, the 3-year period runs from their 16th birthday – in other words, the time bar date for an injured person under the age of 16 is generally going to be their 19th birthday.
There are also some nasty exceptions to the standard 3-year time bar period. In many situations where the accident involves an aircraft or occurs on water, the time bar period is 2 years.
The risk of the claim extinguishing is not the only reason to keep track of time.
Good practice requires that the solicitor should keep the claim moving as efficiently as possible. It’s also important to keep you, the client, informed, as the claim progresses.
Your solicitor will usually agree with you how best to keep in touch with you, with email and letter being the most common methods. Where something in-depth needs to be discussed, your solicitor will use the agreed communication method to ask you to phone or arrange a meeting.
The worst case is losing track of time to the point that the claim accidentally time bars. Short of that, however, is the risk that the solicitor “goes to sleep” on the case, failing to progress it. This can easily happen while the client, none the wiser, assumes that the case is being handled properly (even if the solicitor is not reporting to them on progress as often as they would like).
That’s not a good situation either.
What systems do solicitors employ to keep on top of time issues?
Time bar dates will generally be recorded in databases (e.g. in Outlook) and the personal diary of the handling solicitor. It’s not much use if an impending time bar is only noticed the day before it occurs, so the system will provide for ‘tickler’ reminders, maybe at 6 months, 3 months, 1 month (and, thereafter, weekly) in the lead-up to the deadline. A calendar wallchart is another useful way to prevent such dates going out of mind.
It’s also important for solicitors to have means of detecting ‘non-movement’ on files – in the sense of avoiding going to sleep on particular matters to the extent that the client is not kept informed and the case is not progressed. Things that help here are systems which include:
- periodic reviews of all files (say, every 3 months)
- random file reviews by other solicitors in the same department (monthly), and
- other members of staff (e.g. secretaries) noting down all matters worked on per week and sending that list to the relevant solicitor, say, 2 months later – just in case any “forgotten” names turn up.
When things go wrong, it’s embarrassing and, at worst, a claim against the solicitor’s firm.
Here’s an example from personal experience which does not make me feel proud.
In the Spring of 2016, a recently-injured person got in touch with me. He had been hurt in an accident at work. We got hold of some information from the Health & Safety Executive about the accident which left me in some doubt about the best way to formulate the claim.
I knew I was going to the annual APIL Accidents at Work course in June 2016 and I asked him to wait for me to get back to him after that as I thought I might have a clearer idea about things once I had been to the latest update. Whatever happened at the course, however, I fully intended to intimate the claim for him and proceed with it.
Well, I did go to the course but I didn’t get back in touch with him. The diary reminder and file non-movement detection systems obviously failed in this case. It’s embarrassing for me to say, but the case went completely out of my head.
Several months later, out of the blue as far as I was concerned, I received a letter from the client’s new personal injury solicitor, enclosing a mandate to obtain our file of papers. Realising my terrible mistake, I sent the papers to them by return, with my deep apologies.
On one view, I was lucky. It was lucky that the limbo was broken – where the client thought I was doing something but I was not. In theory, that could have continued to the point where the claim became time-barred. That would lead to a potential claim against me and the firm.
Of course, it’s frustrating to lose a client with a potential claim and it’s embarrassing to have provided such a poor service – it doesn’t help your reputation with other potential clients, let alone your self-esteem.
The main thing is that the claim is now progressed, we hope, to a successful conclusion.
How can you help your solicitor to help you?
I don’t say this in any way to require you to do this. Ultimately, the responsibility to progress the claim and keep you informed lies with your solicitor.
However, claims for pure personal injury (against the person who injured you) are generally more straightforward than claims against solicitors who have allowed personal injury claims to become time-barred.
My suggestion is that you should not be afraid to get in touch with your personal injury claim solicitor every 6 weeks, if you have not heard from them (or been given a clear notice of a longer timescale by them, during which you can expect “nothing” to happen).
If you’re due to attend a job interview, it’s easy to understand why it’s your responsibility to make sure you get the timings right. It’s perhaps less obvious in relation to timescales with your personal injury claim but I hope you can understand from this article why it is in your interests to keep track of time and make sure your solicitor keeps you in the loop.
- Time limits apply to personal injury claims.
- Your solicitor does not want your claim to become time-barred. Neither does your solicitor want to “go to sleep” on the case.
- If you have not heard from your solicitor in a while, don’t assume that’s normal and means that everything is under control.
- Unless you have been given clear reasons why you should expect a longer delay, it is reasonable (and probably a good idea) for you to contact your personal injury solicitor if you have not heard from them in the last 6 weeks.
How we can help
We hope that, having read this article, you will feel more informed about how often to remind your personal injury solicitor about your case, as it progresses. If you have any questions arising from this article – or about any aspect of our personal injury claims services – please feel free to contact us. You can get in touch with Marie or Peter (who wrote this article) via 01343 544077 or by sending us a Free Online Enquiry. All initial enquiries are free of charge and without obligation.