Personal injury and fatal accident claims

What does a forensic accountant do in personal injury claims?  A personal injury can result in a loss of earnings or in the case of a fatal accident in a loss of dependency.  In cases where someone is found to be at fault and their actions directly resulted in the loss, a loss of earnings claim can be brought against them.  Forensic accountants assist with the quantification of a loss of earnings or loss of dependency claim.

When is a NIFA member needed?

There are a number of different situations which can result in a personal injury claim.  NIFA members may be engaged to quantify loss of earnings claims in the following circumstances:

  • Road traffic accidents
  • Industrial and work place accidents
  • Sports related accidents
  • Accidents caused by faulty goods
  • Dangerous premises
  • Incidents involving another party or animal
  • Medical and other forms of negligence
  • Fatal accidents

The above list is far from exhaustive and only provides a flavour of the type of circumstances which may give rise to a personal injury claim.

Where the injured party is (or was) employed, there is little need for input from a forensic accountant, as it is usually relatively straightforward to assess the claimant’s loss of earnings claim on the basis of historical earnings.  However, where the injured party is a business owner and has significant involvement in the running of their business, quantification of a loss of earnings is inherently more complex.  NIFA members are engaged to assist with personal injury claims where the injured party’s business suffers as a result of the injured party being unable to work for a period of time following the accident and the business owner in turn suffers a loss of earnings (be it salary and/or dividends), loss of profit or loss of pension benefits.

The work undertaken by NIFA members is varied, ranging from the initial assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of a potential claim and considering whether the claimant has a realistic claim for loss of earnings before the launch of legal proceedings to preparing or reviewing detailed loss calculations and/or expert reports in support of a personal injury claim once court proceedings have been instigated.

Although it is the injured party’s loss of earnings and not the loss of profits suffered by the injured party’s business which are the subject of a personal injury claim, the two forms of losses are closely related.  NIFA members have the skill and expertise required to identify and consider the key factors, including both internal and external factors, relevant to individual businesses which impact on the quantum of a loss of earnings relating to the business(es) carried on by the injured party.

Who appoints a NIFA member?

NIFA members are experienced in acting for both claimants and defendants (usually the insurers acting on behalf of the party at fault) in personal injury and fatal accident claims and are often engaged as single joint expert to act on behalf of both parties and prepare detailed loss calculations to assess the quantum of a personal injury claim.

NIFA members are typically instructed by the injured party’s legal advisors, but may also be engaged directly by the injured party, particularly in circumstances where the injured party requires a shadow expert to review and assess the reasonableness of loss calculations prepared by an expert appointed by the defendant’s insurers.

Why appoint a NIFA member?

Whether appointed in an advisory or expert capacity, NIFA members work with clients and their legal advisors as required in personal injury claims to ensure that the loss of earnings calculations delivered are fit for purpose and provide the end client with robust and cost effective advice.  NIFA members work to understand the business(es) undertaken by the claimant and the likely loss of earnings which result directly from the injuries suffered by the claimant.

The work of a NIFA member may form only a relatively small part of an overall personal injury claim. NIFA members may therefore, be required to liaise with other professionals and/or experts. NIFA members have experience of undertaking such discussions and can convey their opinions in a clear and concise manner.

NIFA members understand the importance of remaining objective and independent in order to ensure that our work adheres to the highest professional quality and service standards.  NIFA members are also familiar with the requirements of the Civil Procedure Rules and related Practice Directions in relation to the provision of expert evidence.

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