Call 0800 107 3000, email, or Get In Touch

Browell Smith & Co Frequently Asked Questions


For Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Accident & Personal Injury

  • Why use Browell Smith & Co?

    We are recognised as one of the leading personal injury practices in the country and ranked Number 2 in the North East by the Legal 500.

  • Do you offer 'No win, no fee'?

    Yes, we do. This means that if your claim is not successful, you will not pay a penny of our legal fees.

  • Will I be told whether my case will be successful or not?

    At the initial consultation a member of the specialist Personal Injury team will be assigned to your case and he or she will endeavour to provide you with their expert opinion as soon as possible. You will be informed at an early stage whether your case is likely to be successful. In certain circumstances, further information will be required to assist in assessing your claim. If this is the case, you will be advised as to what information is needed.

  • Are you able to provide home appointments

    We are able to offer both home and hospital appointments outside office hours or on a weekend if it is more convenient to you. In addition, we have offices throughout the North East in Annitsford, Ashington, Middlesbrough and Sunderland as well as in the city centre of Newcastle.

  • Do you give legal advice on all types of accident claims?

    Yes we do. We offer expert legal advice on a wide range of accident claims. We have expertise in all types of road traffic accidents (whether you are the driver, passenger, pedestrian or cyclist), workplace accidents, as well as slips, trips and falls. We can also advise in accidents of the utmost severity such as amputation, brain and head injury claims, as well as all type of child accident claims.

  • Can you advise on industrial disease claims as well?

    Yes, we have a team of expert solicitors who specialise in industrial disease claims. We are able to offer professional assistance on all types of disease claims including asbestos related disease, vibration white finger, carpal tunnel syndrome, noise induced hearing loss, work related upper limb disorder, occupational dermatitis, asthma and many more.

  • Can I make a claim if it is three years after the accident?

    There are time limits for starting court proceedings in personal injury claims. Generally, you have to start proceedings by the third anniversary of the accident. In certain circumstances, a judge may allow the claim to continue even if it is brought outside three years. The best course of action is to seek legal advice sooner rather than later.

  • Is there a time limit within which I must bring a claim for an industrial disease?

    Yes, the law imposes time limits within which court proceedings must be started. Proceedings must be started within three years from the date when you became aware or, should in all the circumstances, have been aware that your condition may have arisen due to the negligence of a third party. In the event proceedings are not started within this period the court is unlikely to consider your case on the grounds that it is out of time. Issues relating to the time limits in relation to Industrial diseases can be very complex. In the event that you believe you may be suffering from an industrial disease you should immediately contact your GP to try to obtain a diagnosis after which you should seek legal advice.

  • Will I have to see a lot of experts?

    To have a successful claim, we will need you to be medically examined by at least one medical expert. Maybe more depending on the nature and extent of your injuries or condition. All medical experts will be fully aware of the circumstances of your accident or disease and the background to your cases. In most occassions they will need to see your full medical records which we will obtain on your behalf. We select experts near to your home to avoid any inconvenience to you. Most of our experts are flexible enough to accommodate both evening and weekend appointments.

  • How much compensation will I receive?

    The level of compensation will depend upon the nature and extent of your injury, or condition, along with any additional losses and expenses incurred (such as loss of earnings). No two claims are ever identical and we believe that it is unhelpful to provide general estimates which may not apply to your case. We will, however, provide you with such an estimate once we have received all relevant evidence. Our aim is always to maximise the level of compensation you will ultimately receive.

  • How long will my claim take to conclude?

    This can depend on a variety of factors such as whether your symptoms from the injury, or condition, are continuing or who the claim is being pursued against. At Browell Smith & Co, we endeavour to give you an immediate view in relation to the prospects of success of your claim and the likely length of time it will take to conclude. We always try to bring claims to a conclusion as swiftly as possible but only when we are able to ensure the appropriate level of compensation.

  • Will I have to go to Court?

    Generally, most cases settle without going all the way to trial. If however, no proposals in settlement are forthcoming or the offers are unreasonable, then your case may have to be heard in front of a judge. The judge will determine whether you are entitled to compensation and if so what level of compensation is appropriate. You will be accompanied by the solicitor having conduct of your case or a barrister instructed on your behalf.

Browell Smith & Co Personal Injury Icon

If you can’t find any answers to your questions here please contact us

Call us today: 0800 107 3000 or email:


  • My consultant has told me that I have a condition caused by asbestos. What should I do?

    It is important to understand that not everyone who has been exposed to asbestos will develop an illness, in fact most people who come into contact with asbestos do not become ill as a result. If you have been told that you are suffering from an asbestos related disease, you should ask your consultant for the name of the condition that has been diagnosed. If you or a member of your family has been diagnosed with a condition caused by asbestos, it is important that you take legal advice as quickly as possible. There are time limits within which claims must be brought. There are a number of conditions which can be caused by asbestos, and some are more serious than others. Conditions commonly associated with asbestos exposure are: Pleural Plaques Pleural Effusions Pleural Thickening Asbestosis Mesothelioma Lung Cancer If you have been diagnosed with any of these conditions it is important to get the right legal advice. There are of course many solicitors, but there are in fact very few specialist firms who know enough about asbestos related claims to ensure that you get the best possible help. Following a decision by the Court of Appeal which was upheld by the House of Lords, it is no longer possible to claim compensation for pleural plaques.

  • The company which exposed me to asbestos has gone out of business. Can I still claim?

    In the majority of cases it is still possible to make a claim. At Browell Smith & Co we keep an extensive database of companies, their insurers and witnesses who can help to confirm working conditions.

  • Is there a time limit in which I must bring a claim?

    Time limits do apply. Claims should be brought within three years from the date upon which you realised that you were suffering from a condition caused by asbestos. If the claim arises as a result of the death of a family member, then the time limit is usually three years from the date of the death. This is a complex area and we would recommend that legal advice is obtained as quickly as possible.

  • I did not work with asbestos but I have been told that my condition has been caused by exposure to asbestos. Can I claim?

    In many cases the answer is yes. Your solicitor will investigate whether you have been exposed elsewhere, perhaps because another member of your household brought home clothing contaminated in asbestos dust, or possibly because you lived near to a site where asbestos products were manufactured. Many people are not aware that products which they worked with on a daily basis contained asbestos, for example: cements and artex ceiling and floor tiles insulation used in fridges, freezers, cookers and even hairdryers cisterns, tanks, rainwater goods bitumen products, gutter linings and flashings PVC flooring brake pads, gaskets.

  • What can I claim for?

    At Browell Smith & Co an appointment will be made for you to meet with one of our solicitors who specialises in asbestos related claims. An appointment can be arranged at one of our many offices throughout the North East or, if you prefer, we can visit you at home. Our solicitors can give you detailed advice about whether your case will be successful, how long it will take and how much compensation you can expect to receive. We can also advise you on which state benefits you are entitled to claim in respect of your condition, and can make an application to a Government scheme called the Pneumoconiosis Scheme where appropriate. At Browell Smith & Co we routinely make applications to overseas asbestos trust funds on behalf of our clients. In addition to compensation awarded for your illness you are also entitled to claim damages for financial losses such as: loss of earnings or pension payments the cost of medical care the cost of maintaining your home and garden the cost of specialist equipment to help you cope with your illnesss We can ensure that you obtain the appropriate level of care and the benefits to which you are entitled. If your condition is fatal, your dependents (usually a husband or wife/partner or children who are still financially reliant upon their parents) can claim in respect of any income which they may lose as a result of your death.

  • How long will my claim take?

    At Browell Smith & Co we believe it is important to settle your claim as quickly as possible. We appreciate that many of our clients will face financial difficulties because of their illness, and it is important to start court proceedings at the earliest possible date. If you are suffering from, or if you are claiming because your relative developed mesothelioma, your solicitor will start court proceedings under a special Fast Track Scheme. We will do our very best to ensure that your case is concluded within six months. In most mesothelioma cases we can apply for an advance payment of damages known as an Interim Payment.

  • My relative suffered from an asbestos related condition but has died. Can I still make a claim?

    Yes. The estate and dependents can bring a claim. Dependents can claim an award for pain and suffering caused by the illness, together with all financial losses and care costs. In some cases it is possible to claim an additional payment called a Bereavement Award.

  • How will the costs of pursuing my case be paid for?

    We will discuss all possible ways of funding the case with you. The initial consultation is free. During the meeting we can advise you on whether your claim is worth pursuing and the best way to fund the claim. If you are a member of a trade union we can put you in touch with your union who may be able to provide funding for your claim. In the event that you are not a trade union member we can help you to establish whether you have any insurance policies which will cover your legal costs. Where you do not have the benefit of trade union membership or appropriate insurance cover, we can pursue your claim under a 'No Win - No Fee' agreement. Whatever you decide, please remember that it costs nothing to take initial advice.

  • Can I claim state benefits?

    Our specialist legal advisers can ensure that you obtain all the benefits to which you are entitled.

Browell Smith & Co Occupational Disease Icon

If you can’t find any answers to your questions here please contact us

Call us today: 0800 107 3000 or email:

Medical Negligence

  • Is there a time limit for bringing a claim?

    Yes. The basic principle for a claim brought in England and Wales is that court proceedings must be commenced within three years of either the date of an allegedly negligent treatment or the claimant’s (the patient’s) date of knowledge. To have knowledge the claimant must be aware they have suffered a significant injury, know who was responsible for it and that it was caused in whole or part by negligence. In cases involving death, the general rule is that the three years runs from the date of death. In cases involving children, the three years does not start to run until they reach the age of 18. For people with brain injury or certain mental illness who are judged incompetent, the three-year rule is disapplied.

  • Is there a no fault compensation scheme for medical negligence in this country?

    No. For compensation to be paid the claimant has to prove each aspect of their case. The claimant has the burden of proving their treatment was negligent, the negligent treatment caused harm, the extent of that harm and ultimately, the financial value of that harm.

  • Who decides whether medical treatment was negligent?

    Ultimately, it would be a judge relying on expert evidence from medical professionals if the case was one of the small percentage of medical negligence claims that go to trial. The test for clinical negligence was laid down by the court over 50 years ago. Fundamentally, it is the opinion of other healthcare professionals within the relevant speciality, not the opinion of the patient, their family or friends, that determines whether a claimant’s treatment can be described as negligent or not.

  • What funding options are available to pay for medical negligence claims?

    The options are limited. Some trade unions will provide financial support to their members, legal expenses cover under existing insurance policies may be available, legal aid is an option for those who satisfy certain criteria, if a case is strong a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement with or without supportive insurance would be a possibility and finally a claimant may use their own money as they would to purchase other goods or services.

  • How long will it take to conclude a medical negligence claim?

    Each case is different. It depends on many factors including the complexity of the case, the disease processes under consideration, the availability of records, the extent of necessary expert evidence, the attitude of the defendant, and court timetables.

  • Are there any alternative ways of highlighting shortcomings in health care other than by pursuing a claim for compensation?

    Yes. For NHS treatment a complaint process exists (see the relevant section of this web site). Organisations providing treatment outside the NHS may have their own complaints process. Many healthcare professionals have professional regulatory bodies such as the General Medical Council and General Dental Council to whom concerns about individual practitioners can be directed. In other circumstances, contacting your local Member of Parliament or press may be an alternative to seeking legal advice.

Browell Smith & Co Medical Negligence Icon

If you can’t find any answers to your questions here please contact us

Call us today: 0800 107 3000 or email:

Care Home Fee Advice

  • If I go into a care home how much Capital am I allowed before I have to pay towards my fees?

    From April 2009 the first £14,000 of any Capital is totally disregarded. If you have Capital of between £14,000 and £23,000 then you will be treated as having additional weekly income of £1 for every £250 over £14,000 for the purpose of assessing how much you have to pay towards your fees. If your Capital is over £23,000 then you will be expected to pay the full cost of your care. Capital can include the value of your former home after the first 12 weeks of you becoming a permanent resident in a care home. The value of your home is however disregarded if any of the following people still live in the property: Your partner A lone parent who is your estranged or divorced partner A child under the age of 16 A relative over the age of 60 A relative who is incapacitated by reason of long term illness or disability.

  • What is a deferred payment agreement?

    A deferred payment agreement is an arrangement whereby the Local Authority helps to pay the cost of the care home fees pending the sale of a property. In return they secure their interest by way of a legal charge on the property. This then enables them to recover any fees paid from the proceeds of the sale when the property is eventually sold. Such arrangements are interest free until 56 days after the date of the resident’s death. You should always seek independent legal advice before signing a deferred payment agreement.

  • What are the criteria for receiving fully funded NHS care?

    You must be able to show that you have a primary need for health care. This is determined by carrying out what is known as a Continuing Care assessment. A trained assessor will complete a document called a 'decision support tool' which helps a panel of healthcare professionals to reach a decision. The decision support tool looks at the care needs in a total of 11 care domains and grades them as Low, Moderate High, Severe or Priority. If you have one priority need or two severe needs you should automatically qualify for free care. If however, you have a number of care needs which are graded high and/or moderate you may still qualify and it may be worth appealing against any decision not to provide free care.

  • My mother has been told that she cannot receive free NHS care because she only has social needs. What does this mean?

    In order to qualify for free NHS care you must show that you have medical needs which are considered to be intense, complex and unpredictable. Such medical needs must be more than merely incidental to your overall care package. Social care is the practical and emotional support that is provided to help people do the everyday things that most of us take for granted. e.g. getting in and out of bed, getting washed and dressed, eating at mealtimes etc., as well as keeping an eye on someone to make sure they are safe.

  • My father has been told that he needs to go into a care home. He owns his own home but I helped him to buy it. What will happen to my share if it has to be sold?

    You should be able to argue that you have a beneficial interest in the property providing you have evidence to show that you contributed to the original purchase price, otherwise your claim may be more difficult to argue. When entering into arrangements of this sort with a family member it is always best to make sure that either your name is included on the title deeds or alternatively that there is a formal trust deed. You may need to take legal advice.

Browell Smith & Co Care Home Icon

If you can’t find any answers to your questions here please contact us

Call us today: 0800 107 3000 or email:

Go Mobile With Our Handy App

The Browell Smith & Co app is the perfect app to have on your phone in case you have been the victim of a personal injury.

  • Store your details
  • Store the accident details
  • Store the Witness details
  • Store 3rd party details
  • Take detailed images of the accident scene
  • Log the location using GPS feature
  • Send your accident to Browell Smith & Co
iOS App
The Browell Smith & Co Mobile App

Sign Up

Sign up to our free newsletter for the latest news, advice and opportunities at Browell Smith & Co.