If you have suffered an injury, the first thing on your mind is probably recovery. Some injuries, however, may have life-changing results, they may affect your ability to work, change your financial situation, or could stop you from doing the things you love. This is where personal injury claims come in.
Making a claim for personal injury compensation can help you to cover medical costs, ensure your financial situation is not affected if you are unable to work and allows you to focus on your recovery. You may have pushed the idea aside not wanting to begin a long and confusing journey to compensation, but this is not the case!
Our guide breaks down the personal injury claims process, answering all of your questions so you can understand how we can help you to get the compensation you deserve, as simply and painlessly as possible.
What is a Personal Injury Claim?
Personal injury refers to any physical or psychological injury that occurs as a result of somebody else’s negligence. Negligence occurs when a person responsible for ensuring the safety of those using services/equipment/public spaces etc. fail in their duty. For example, an employer would be negligent if they failed to properly maintain equipment that later malfunctioned causing injury to one of their employees.
A personal injury claim allows a person to pursue damages for their injury from the person or organisation deemed to be at fault for its occurrence. If the claim is successful, they will receive compensation which will help them to cover any associated medical and support costs, loss of earnings, as well as taking into account the effect their injury may have had on their overall lifestyle.
Types of Personal Injury Claims
There are many ways that a person may become injured due to somebody else’s negligence. Some of the most common personal injury claim types include:
- Road traffic accidents (including motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian)
- Accidents at work and industrial illness
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Upper and lower body injuries, including sporting and criminal injuries
- Construction site accidents
- Animal attacks
- Accidents involving faulty goods or services
If you have been injured in any of the ways mentioned above, and it wasn’t your fault or you were only partly to blame, we can help. We can help you to obtain compensation which will then give you the ability to recover and move forward after your accident.
Who Can Claim Compensation?
There are several criteria you need to meet to be able to make a personal injury claim. The first is that you have genuinely suffered an injury within the last three years. Just having an accident is not sufficient – you also need to prove that you were physically or psychologically injured as a result.
The second criteria is that your accident was not purely due to chance or your own doing – someone other than yourself must be at fault. It may have been accidental, deliberate or because they were negligent, but for you to be eligible for compensation, you need to demonstrate that another party was responsible.
Finally, in order to raise a personal injury claim, you need to be at least 18 years old and considered to have the mental capacity to start the personal injury claims process. If you are a minor, or a court rules your mental capacity is impaired, a close relative may make a claim on your behalf, with any compensation to be held in a trust if awarded.
What Can You Claim Compensation For?
During the personal injury claims process, you will be asked to recount the impact your injury has had on your lifestyle. This may include details such as any pain you suffered from, any changes to your financial situation if you are unable to work, or have had to pay out for medical/support services and any major effects to your lifestyle e.g. can you still do the things you love? Has your personal life been affected in any way? Has your mental health been affected?
The majority of your compensation will be for the pain and suffering your injury causes. This amount will depend on the severity of your injury, the effect it has on your life, and whether it will cause any lasting damage. The rest of your compensation payment will be to cover any expenses you have as the result of your injury. These can include but are not limited to:
- Reasonable private medical care, such as physiotherapy or counselling
- Travel expenses to medical appointments, or to work if you are unable to commute via your usual method
- Prescriptions and other medication
- Lost income while you are recovering
- Predicted lost income, including pension and projected promotions, if you are not able to continue along your expected career path.
The Personal Injury Claims Process
The personal injury claims process can be split into 5 distinct stages. These stages include:
Get in touch with one of our advisors for a free no-obligation conversation. During this initial assessment, they will discuss the details of your accident with you in order to determine whether your personal injury claim is likely to be successful should you choose to pursue it. Our expert advisors are on hand to offer advice and support so this is the ideal time to ask any questions you may have about the personal injury claims process.
Should you choose to continue with your claim, you will be matched with a solicitor, with experience in cases such as your own, in order to move onto the next stage of the process.
Consultation, Fact-finding and Evidence Gathering
During this stage of the claims process, your solicitor will discuss the details of your accident with you in more detail in order to determine the facts. They will ask any questions to help determine fault. They may also speak to other people involved including witnesses. Our witness claims guide explains the importance of witnesses with the personal injury claims process.
From there they will look to gather evidence to help prove your claim. This may include medical records, CCTV if the accident was caught on camera, collecting witness statements and more.
Once all the necessary evidence has been gathered and reports collated, your claim can be submitted. We will also notify the other involved party (whoever is deemed responsible for your accident) to inform them that a personal injury claim is being made against them. We will then await a response on their behalf.
At this point, the ‘pre-action protocol’ will be triggered –
‘Pre-action protocols explain the conduct and set out the steps the court would normally expect parties to take before commencing proceedings for particular types of civil claims.’
This allows the claimant and defendant to exchange information, setting time limits that each party has to respond to correspondence, with the aim of aiding fast settlements without having to go to court.
If the defendant accepts responsibility for the accident, the negotiation process can begin. If they refuse to accept liability, they must provide documentation and evidence to support this. Your solicitor will then investigate these claims and offer evidence to dispute them in order to gain an admission of liability.
We will then work to gain the maximum compensation settlement offer from the defendant. In order to do this, your solicitor will submit your medical report with expert opinion on the severity of your injuries and how long they will continue to affect you. They will also create a document which lists any other financial losses you have suffered due to your injury.
This is the final stage of the personal injury claims process. A defendant can make a settlement offer at any time however, your solicitor will work to get you the maximum amount possible during the negotiation stage of the process. Once an adequate compensation amount has been reached, on which both parties have agreed, the case can be settled.
The majority of cases can be settled without the need to go to court, something we strive to achieve for all of our clients. If liability is not accepted by the defendant or an appropriate settlement cannot be achieved however, the case may have to go to court before settlement is reached.
If your claim goes to court and a judge rules in your favour, the defendant will be ordered to pay compensation within a specific time scale as set by the judge. This is usually set at 21 days and further court proceedings can be initiated if the money is not received by this time. Clients receiving compensation from an overseas insurance company are different. You may need to wait up to six weeks before receiving compensation payment.
If an agreement is reached outside of court, the personal injury claims process requires your solicitor to request payment within 14 days. But each case is unique, so we’ll examine the personal injury compensation claim time for your individual case. There is no legal requirement for the other party to pay within this timescale. Accordingly, our experience is that payments for out-of-court settlements can take between 14 and 28 days.
If you don’t receive compensation within 28 days, talk with your solicitor. If payment is not forthcoming, they will follow up on your behalf and, if necessary, instigate court proceedings.
How Many Personal Injury Claims go to Court?
You may be reluctant to claim personal injury compensation for fear of having to go to court. Standing before a judge, being questioned may be intimidating for some and whilst we can’t guarantee that it won’t happen, the good news is that the chance your claim will go to court is unlikely.
Why Don’t All Claims Go to Court?
Both your solicitor and your defendant’s solicitor will likely try to avoid court where possible, simply because it is stressful for their clients and expensive for them if they lose. Even if a claim is submitted to a court and a date set, your lawyer will continue to negotiate up to the last minute to avoid this. It is not unusual for claims to settle virtually on the steps of the courthouse.
Your lawyer submits your claim to a court only if the defendant refuses to acknowledge liability, but the evidence clearly shows they were responsible. If they do not respond to your application for compensation or engage in the correct timescales, or if you can’t agree on what is a fair and reasonable amount of compensation, court action is the next logical step.
What Happens in Court?
A court is a lot less intimidating than it sounds. Forget anything you have seen on television or in the newspapers. A civil court, where personal injury compensation claim hearings take place, is a normal room. A judge will be present, dressed in regular clothing, and will listen to you present your version of events. They may also talk to any witnesses about the accident, and possibly speak to a medical expert to understand more about your injuries.
You will be supported by a barrister, as will the other party’s insurance company, and they may question some points of your claim. By the time your case has reached court everything will have already been discussed between both parties so there should be no nasty surprises.
The judge will listen to all the evidence presented and then make a decision about liability and the amount of compensation that should be received.
As mentioned above, the judge will then set a date for which compensation should be paid by. If this does not occur then your solicitor can re-initiate court proceedings in order to pursue payment.
How Long Does a Personal Injury Claim Take to go to Court?
The timescale for which a personal injury claim takes to go to court will differ depending on the complexity of the case and the circumstances surrounding the accident. Whilst we cannot give an exact answer to this question, if settlement cannot be reached outside of court, personal injury claims usually proceed to court within 12 months. Even if your claim is submitted to court, it can still be settled outside of the courtroom up until proceedings begin.
Should I Accept the First Compensation Offer I Receive?
Before your personal injury lawyer submits your request for compensation, they will talk to you about what an appropriate amount of compensation is. This figure will be based on your circumstances, as well as other similar recent compensation payments in the UK for similar injuries. The Judicial College publishes a document called “Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases”, which is now in its thirteenth edition which may be used to guide compensation amount. If your offer falls within the level you have agreed, then your solicitor may advise you to accept it.
Some questions need to be considered before a fair amount of compensation can be decided. These include:
- What is your prognosis for a full recovery and by when? Are you likely to suffer ongoing pain for months, years, or forever?
- What has your injury cost you in lost earnings, travel expenses, medical costs, and other out-of-pocket expenses?
- Who was liable? Initial offers made from insurance companies often state split liability, even if you were no way at fault.
- What are the guidelines from the Judicial College?
Receiving an Unsolicited Offer from an Insurance Company
We occasionally receive calls from people who have only recently had an accident. They have yet had a chance to seek legal advice yet have been contacted with an offer of compensation from the other party’s insurance company. Their question is whether the initial and unsolicited offer is fair and acceptable. In virtually every instance, the answer is “no”. An insurance company will not offer you money before you have asked for it unless they believe it will benefit them financially by having to pay you less at a later date.
In such cases, we have gone on to work with specialist personal injury lawyers to obtain a far higher payment for the client.
How Should an Offer be Received?
Any offer of compensation needs to be made in writing for it to be binding, detailing the amount and any deductions such as those for split liability. It is called a “Part 36 offer” as the legislation it conforms to is the Part 36 Civil Procedures Rule 1998.
Once the offer is made, you have 21 days to decide whether or not to accept it. You should always take legal advice before accepting a Part 36 offer, especially if you have a conditional fee agreement or are using an insurance policy to cover your legal expenses, as you may find you invalidate your contract.
The Compensation Experts offer a free, no-obligation consultation so contact us today if you have received an offer of compensation and don’t know what to do, or if you have any other questions about the personal injury claims process.
What Evidence do I Need to Make a Personal Injury Claim?
As the claimant, it is your role to prove that you were injured as a direct result of another person’s negligence. This is why it is crucial to your potential claim that you work with a specialist personal injury lawyer. In order to prove your claim, you will need to submit evidence.
Evidence you will need to support your personal injury claim may include:
- Medical records, including those from the hospital if you needed emergency treatment, or your GP if you did not. Your solicitor may also recommend you are assessed by an independent medical expert who will produce a report to help substantiate your claim
- Photographs of your injuries, including any subsequent scarring
- Pictures of the accident site showing the aftermath of the accident, if possible. If you need to return to take photos make sure it is at the same time of day to give the most accurate representation of the conditions at the time of your accident. If you tripped over uneven paving or fell in a pothole, use a ruler in the photo to show the height or depth of the obstacle
- Diagrams depicting how the accident occurred (e.g. which direction cars were travelling in an RTA)
- Reports from police or emergency services, if they attended the scene or the copy of the RIDDOR accident report from your employer
- Witness statements from anyone who saw or heard your accident, as well as parties who can attest that the conditions leading up to your accident were unreasonably unsafe (for example, if machinery at work was not being maintained according to schedule)
- A diary detailing any appointments you had regarding your injury, as well as your physical and mental condition. Keep track of any things you need assistance with, such as if your spouse has to help you get dressed, or you are unable to do your grocery shopping without help
- Details and receipts of any expenses incurred as the result of your accident, including things such as travel costs to attend doctors appointments or work if you are unable to drive
- Proof of ownership or details of any personal belongings you are seeking compensation for, such as a bicycle ruined in an RTA or cycling accident
In addition to the above evidence to prove the extent and cause of your injuries, you will also need to prove your identity and that you have the means to pay the defendant’s legal expenses if your claim is unsuccessful. The latter is usually in the form of insurance which you may already have as part of your home insurance, or which you can take out through an “after the event” insurance policy. This information is also required by your solicitor for them to meet regulations that prevent money laundering.
We instruct victims of personal injury to seek legal advice as early in the personal injury claims process as possible. In doing this you can speak to a legal professional who can answer any questions on what evidence you will need for your claim to be successful, as well as helping you to collate this.
How Long do Personal Injury Claims Take to Settle?
One of the most pressing questions people have when they start the personal injury claims process is how long will it take? It is not unreasonable to want to know when your claim will be resolved as, for many victims of personal injury, their ability to move forward with their life will depend on compensation payment.
It is not possible to give an exact duration at the outset of your claim as there are two significant factors which will influence the timing: who is responsible and how clear the evidence is.
If it is evident exactly who is to blame for causing your accident and the responsible party acknowledges their role in this, the claim process will go much faster. In some instances, liability is split between the claimant and the defendant. An example of this is if a pedestrian was struck by a car, but the pedestrian did not find a safe place to cross or pause to adequately assess whether it was safe before they stepped into the road (“stop, look, and listen”). As long as both parties accept their responsibility in the accident, there is no reason for the claim process to be delayed. If liability is not accepted by the defendant, however, then the process may take longer as further investigation and communication will be required to prove it.
As with liability, the stronger the evidence is to support your claim, the less likely the responsible party is to deny their part or argue with a proposed amount of compensation. With strong evidence, the more likely you are to receive compensation quickly. It is not the role of the defendant to prove they were not responsible for your injury. As the claimant, it is up to you, or your personal injury solicitor, to show how they were responsible and the nature and extent of your injuries.
A third influencing factor in the amount of time your claim will take to finalise is your medical prognosis. Until you have completely recovered from your injuries or you have had a comprehensive diagnosis and prognosis, it is not possible to accurately assess the impact of your injury. Settling a claim before this is complete may leave you at risk of receiving less compensation to which you would otherwise be entitled, as claim decisions are usually finally. This means you cannot claim for more compensation if another affliction develops after settlement has been reached. It is why compensation requests for brain damage and spinal injury take longer than those involving simple fractures or sprains.
Although we cannot advise a specific timeline, we can give you an indication of how long your claim will take based on similar claims. Each of these timescales rests on the other party admitting liability, and your injuries healing within a reasonable amount of time:
Road traffic accident claims – between four and nine months
Accident at work claims – between six and nine months
Slip, trip, and fall claims– between six and nine months
Industrial disease claims – from 12 to 18 months
There are certain statutory timescales for specific actions. If your claim is going to be submitted to a court, which is usually a last resort after all other negotiations have failed. You must do so within three years of your accident. The defendant has 21 days to acknowledge in writing your lawyer’s letter of claim, and a further three months from the date of this acknowledgement to send a full response either admitting or denying liability.
Compensation claims cannot drag on indefinitely. Your solicitor will do all they can to secure compensation in the shortest possible time, without cutting corners and jeopardising the amount of your payment.
If you want an estimate of how long your personal injury claim will take to settle, or if you have any other questions about the personal injury claims process talk to The Compensation Experts today.
Need some help?
Am I eligible?
If you have been harmed physically in the last 3 years, due to someone else’s negligence, the short answer is yes.
Exceptions to this are for instance industrial disease or if you were a child at the time of the accident. In these cases you may have a longer period to claim.
How much could I claim?
As every injury is different, the amount of compensation paid out can also differ case to case. Varying factors lead to the final figure. These include: extent of your injuries, loss of earnings, future losses and more.
Our dedicated team of experts will give you an indication of how much you could potentially claim for.
How does the process work?
We understand that when making a claim it’s important to know what to expect and when to expect it. That’s why we make the process as transparent & clear as possible.
Your solicitor will gather all the evidence. They will then notify the negligent party that you wish to begin claim proceedings. With your solicitor negotiating on your behalf, you will be up to date every step of the way.
Why should you use us?
No Win No Fee*
We assess all claims on a No Win No Fee basis, then we can determine how successful a claim is likely to be. This service is 100% free.
We assess each claim on its merits with the information you provide. This then helps us determine its likely success rate. *conditions apply
Our dedicated panel are experts in securing compensation no matter the injury.
Our panel of personal injury law firms are committed to securing the best possible outcome for you while providing expert support every step of the way.
Personal Dedicated Team
Each client has their own Personal Injury solicitor who will work on the case from start to finish. They will be there every step of the way. The client has a direct phone number and direct email address of the solicitor.
Expert No Win No Fee Advisors Working For You
We specialise in helping victims of injury claim the compensation they deserve.
We work on a No Win No Fee basis, so if we don’t win your case you don’t pay! Once you make contact, our experienced team will then work to recover the maximum compensation you are entitled to. However, you should be aware that the panel of solicitors we work with may charge up to 25% of the total compensation awarded if your claim is successful. Further, if you terminate the agreement before your claim for damages ends you may also be liable to pay basic charges including (but not exclusively) disbursements, and barrister’s fees.