Is there a time limit for personal injury compensation after an accident?
Yes, there is a time limit of three years. You must begin court proceedings within three years of sustaining your injury, or, if you weren’t aware you had an injury, three years of the date you first became aware of the injury. After three years, the case becomes ‘time-barred’ or ‘statute barred’. There are exceptions for example if the personal injury happened to a child, or to someone incapable of managing their own affairs.
How do you value my claim and how much compensation will I receive?
A personal injury claim is split into two parts. The first part of your claim is the injury claim known as general damages. This will be valued by using a medical report, which will be prepared by a medical expert who will provide an opinion and prognosis for your injury, i.e. what injuries you have suffered and how long you will suffer from them. This takes into consideration damages for pain and suffering including the loss of the ability to do certain tasks, hobbies etc. This award compensates you for the suffering you have encountered usually in its physical form e.g. whiplash, broken leg, strained muscles etc. However, it is also possible to be compensated for psychological distress and conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The second part of your claim will centre around any expenses you have incurred as a result of your injury known as special damages and these can include loss of earnings, travel expenses, care and assistance and prescription charges.
My injuries seem to be minor. Can I still make a claim?
Yes, you could do. Injuries that seem minor to begin with may actually have a long term and irreversible impact on your quality of life. However, to instruct a solicitor the value of your claim currently needs to be above £1,000. Anything less than that would have to go through the small claims court, where you would represent yourself instead.
What is liability?
Liability means that someone is legally responsible for an incident. In order to win your case, we will need to prove that the defendant is liable for your injury, i.e. they have been negligent in their actions and have caused your injury. If liability has been admitted, this means the defendants have agreed they were responsible for your accident or injury, i.e. at fault, and will therefore compensate you. If liability is denied, this means the defendants believe they can successfully show they were not negligent and cannot be shown to be at fault in respect of your injuries.
What is a “No win No fee”?
A no win no fee agreement is known within the legal industry as a conditional fee agreement. If we do not win your case, then we do not have any right to recover our fees from you other than in certain circumstances. If we do win your case, the defendant will pay part of those legal costs and we will request a success fee for dealing with your claim which is payable by you out of your damages. You do not usually have to make any payment to us for legal fees during the course of the claim.
Will I have to go to court? What if my claim goes to trial?
The vast majority of personal injury claims are settled without the need to go to court. However, on some occasions, where settlement cannot be agreed with the defendant’s solicitors, your claim will need to go to court so a judge can consider the case and provide a final judgement. You will usually be represented by a barrister who will present your claim and you will need to give evidence to the judge. This will usually be based upon a witness statement that we will prepare for you using the information you have given to us throughout your claim.
My insurance company has recommended a solicitor, do I have to instruct them, or can I choose a different solicitor?
No, you are free to instruct whichever solicitor you like. Insurance companies may recommend solicitors who they know will agree a smaller settlement amount – so these recommended solicitors are often not independent or impartial. Choosing an independent solicitor ensures that we’ll act only in your best interests (rather than those of the insurance company) to get the maximum amount of compensation possible.
Will I have to fund my case expenses like court fees and medical exams?
We will pay these on your behalf throughout the duration of the case if we are acting under a conditional fee agreement. If you win, these expenses will be recoverable from the other side. If your claim isn’t successful, you will be liable for these costs so we will always discuss with you taking an After the Event Insurance policy out to protect you.
If I receive a personal injury settlement, do I have to pay tax on it?
No – and it doesn’t matter whether you receive it as a lump sum or as instalments over time. No tax will be payable on personal injury settlements.
Will I have to be medically examined?
In order to prove that you suffered an injury as a result of the accident, you will have to attend a medical examination by an independent doctor in your locality. Following the examination, a report will be prepared. The report is essential as it describes the injury suffered and confirms when or if your recovery is likely and forms the basis for the award of damages. There is no need to be concerned about the examination; the doctors that we instruct are friendly and sympathetic and most examinations take no more than 20 minutes.
How long will my personal injury claim take?
We aim to complete all claims within a reasonable time period. The average claim can take between 6 and 12 months to complete. A claim may take longer, as there can be disputes with the defendants regarding liability or the settlement of the claim. We always aim to keep you updated about the progress of your claim and the likely time frame to settlement.
My relative or loved-one had a fatal accident. Can I claim on behalf of someone who has died?
Yes, if their accident or death was the result of someone else’s negligence then the family of the deceased can receive the compensation. The claim can be brought by executors of the will, administrators (if there is no will), beneficiaries of the estate, people entitled to a bereavement award or certain eligible dependants. There are a number of Acts under which you can make a claim for the person’s death. These are the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934, the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 and the Human Rights Act 1998. Due to the nature of these incidents, if you require any further information involving a fatal incident please contact a member of our team who will be happy to discuss further.