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Interim Payments Explained
What are interim payments in a personal injury claim?
An interim payment refers to a part payment of compensation, paid in advance of any settlement agreement with the other side or court award.
Who can claim an interim payment?
The law recognises the fact that, even if a case is straightforward, it can take a relatively long period of time to receive a compensation payment.
If you have suffered an injury which stops or reduces your ability to work and earn money, and / or requires you to spend significant amounts of money on treatment or adjustments to your lifestyle, you might well find yourself in a difficult financial position. The amount of time it takes to collect all the evidence required to put together a strong personal injury claim, and the process of negotiating a settlement with the other side or following the court process to its conclusion, can be significant. An interim payment may be available to you if you can show that your circumstances are such that it is reasonable for you to receive some of your compensation claim in advance, provided that you can satisfy the other side, or the court, that you are highly likely to win your case.
When can interim payments be requested?
An interim payment can be requested at any time during the process of making your claim. In order to be successful, you will need to show that it is reasonable for you to receive such a payment in advance, so you will need some evidence that your circumstances have been affected to a serious extent as a result of your injuries, and that your financial circumstances are such that an interim payment is necessary.
It is important to remember that, even though an interim payment can be paid in advance of your final claim, it is still not an immediate payment, so you should maintain an open and honest dialogue with your solicitor about your financial circumstance. Do not wait until the situation is serious before beginning the process of requesting an interim payment. Our personal injury solicitors are experts in assessing and requesting interim payments, and your dedicated solicitor will know when the circumstances are such that a request is appropriate and likely to be successful. Remember, however, that, usually, an interim payment is dependent on the agreement of the other side.
How is an interim payment requested?
You can agree to an interim payment with the other side to your claim at any time. Clearly, in order to reach an agreement on an early payment, you will need to persuade the other side that it is highly likely that your claim will result in a final settlement in your favour, and it is possible that the other side will reject your claim for an interim payment. If this happens, you can then apply to the court (once you have started formal court proceedings) for an order that the other side must make an interim payment.
For your application to court for an interim payment to be successful, you will need to show that one of the following conditions has been met:
- the other side admits responsibility for the accident and that they are liable to pay damages;
- a judgment has been obtained against the other side for damages to be assessed;
- the court is satisfied that your claim would be successful if it went to trial, and that you would be awarded a substantial amount of money; or
- if there are multiple entities on the other side: a) you will be awarded a substantial amount of money from at least one of those entities; and b) all those entities are public bodies with insurance cover which will satisfy the claim.
If you can satisfy the court that it should award you an interim payment, you will be granted a reasonable proportion of the likely final amount of your claim, based on the particular circumstances of your case.
What can interim payments be used for?
Interim payments exist to ensure that you are not placed in difficulty as a result of an accident which was not your fault.
In other words, they are to ensure that you can live the same lifestyle as you enjoyed before the accident which resulted in your injuries. As such, they can be used to pay for the costs of any medical treatment you require before your claim is finalised, or to cover lost earnings which you should have received during this period.
Although you do not have to explain how you plan to spend the money you request, it is more likely that an interim payment application (whether to the other side or to the court) will be successful if you do.
The complex nature of some personal injury cases means that the period of time between the initial accident and the final award of compensation can be significant and it may be that you make a number of interim payment applications during the process.
Always ensure that you keep records of how you spend the money you receive from your interim payment, as these records will be important in subsequent applications as proof that the previous awards have been used appropriately.
How will an interim payment affect my final compensation amount?
Any interim payment(s) you receive during the claim will be taken off the final amount you receive (whether that is an award from the court or the final settlement figure you agree with the other side).
If you receive means tested benefits, you should discuss this with your solicitor, as the receipt of the interim payment may impact your household income, and may impact the payment of your benefits. This will depend on your individual circumstances, and your dedicated solicitor will be able to provide expert advice if required.
If you have any further questions in relation to a personal injury claim, please contact our team.
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