Personal Injury Claims Process
Guide by Stephen Moreau. Last Updated on 14th October 2021. The personal injury claims process is drawn-out, time-consuming and complicated. Unless you are familiar with this area, it is advisable to hire a personal injury solicitor to represent you if you are considering filing a claim for compensation.
Here’s where many people hesitate because the mere mention of solicitors brings on thoughts of hefty legal costs and the possibility of losing that money too if the case is unsuccessful. So before going ahead without understanding the injury claims process, it is important to understand the financial arrangements that most solicitors provide in personal injury claims.
Starting The Personal Injury Claims Process
If you want to explore the possibility of making a personal injury claim, then you may wish to contact a personal injury solicitor to support you. Many personal injury solicitors offer free legal advice as part of their initial no-obligation consultation. This means you can make an appointment during which you give the solicitor all the details of your potential case. In return, you can get their advice without incurring any legal fees. Not only will you not be charged for this consultation, but you are also under no obligation to hire that particular solicitor to represent you.
If you decide you want a solicitor to support your personal injury claim, then there are a few steps to follow to get the claim underway. After deciding which solicitor you would like to work with, you will need to discuss and agree on the terms under which they will represent you.
Most personal injury solicitors will agree to represent you on a Conditional Fee or No Win No Fee contract. The biggest advantage is that you get the benefit of the solicitor’s experience and expertise without having to pay any upfront fees.
According to this agreement, you are liable to pay the solicitor only if you win the settlement. The fee is usually an agreed percentage of the settlement you receive.
As you can see, you get all of the benefits without any risk if you hire a personal injury solicitor to file a compensation claim on your behalf.
So what exactly is the personal injury claims process after you have signed the agreement?
Here’s what happens from the time of your first appointment till the personal injury case is closed.
The First Consultation
At the beginning of your personal injury claims process, your solicitor will want to know the details of the incident and your injuries so that they can evaluate the merits of your case and determine how likely it is to succeed. This is all part of your initial consultation. Because they are agreeing to be paid only if they win the case for you, it’s only natural that they will want to make sure you have a strong case with a high chance of being awarded compensation.
The solicitor will also want to know details of your injuries, medical diagnosis and treatment required as well as all travel and treatment expenses in order to establish how much you might be able to claim in compensation.
After You’ve Signed The Agreement
Once you’ve agreed to go ahead and the agreement is signed, your personal injury solicitor will need some more information in order to build your case and actually start proceedings. You will be required to give these details:
- The date that the accident took place.
- Where and how the accident happened.
- Contact details of anyone who witnessed the accident.
- Photographs of the accident and injuries if any were taken at the scene.
- A copy of the police record.
- Copies of the doctor’s diagnosis and the prescribed medication and treatment.
- A letter from the doctor if the injury is severe and likely to require long-term or permanent medication or treatment.
- Proof of all financial expenses due to the injury – medical as well as travel expenses.
- Proof of financial losses, such as lost income or other job-related perks you would have gotten.
The solicitor will study all the details and will create a case emphasising that the accident was not your fault and that you should be compensated for your pain, suffering and financial losses.
You will be kept informed at every stage of the personal injury claims process especially with regards to the amount of compensation that the personal injury solicitor is asking for on your behalf.
In addition, the solicitor will also check out precedents of other similar cases that can be used to your advantage in court.
Making The Personal Injury Claim
After all the paperwork has been put together, the solicitor will send a formal letter stating details of the incident and your injuries to the person, persons or company that you are holding responsible for your injuries. This letter is called a Letter of Claim.
The defendant must acknowledge receipt of the letter and reply within a fixed period of time.
In the reply, the defendant must state whether or not they accept liability for your injury, or they may ask for more information to enable them to investigate. The next step depends on the defendant’s reply, so here are a few steps that could illustrate your personal injury claims process.
1st Scenario – The defendant admits full or partial liability
If the defendant admits full or partial liability, they will then discuss the matter further with your personal injury solicitor.
The main agenda for the discussions will be the amount of damages that are acceptable in order to settle the case out of court. In most cases, the defendant will make a counteroffer, which is lower than your original claim.
If the amount sounds fairly reasonable, your solicitor will then ask you if you are willing to make an offer to settle for that amount. If the amount is much lower than your original demand, your solicitor may advise you to counter with another offer slightly lower than your original demand but higher than the defendant’s offer.
If both parties can agree on the settlement amount, the case can be settled amicably without having to go to court. This is of course is a best-case scenario and makes the personal injury claims process easy to navigate. Things do not always proceed so smoothly, however.
2nd Scenario – The defendant denies liability
If liability is denied and the defendant wishes to contest the claim, their solicitor or insurance adjuster will usually get in touch with your personal injury solicitor and explain what they think is wrong with the claim. They may question any aspect of your claim, from the liability, the need for extensive medical treatment or any other. Your solicitor will now have to respond to these arguments.
If both parties do not agree on issues of liability or amount of damages, court proceedings will then be initiated. From here onwards the court’s case management procedures dictate how the case proceeds.
After hearing the arguments of both parties, the court will issue a judgment on liability and amount of damages if any. If the defendant is found liable, they will have to pay you compensation in accordance with the court’s order.
How To Improve The Chances Of Success In The Personal Injury Claims Process
Personal injury claims cases rarely proceed smoothly with the defendant readily accepting liability and paying what you demand without contesting. With that in mind, there are a few things you can do to increase the chances of winning your claim for compensation.
Immediately after the accident, there are a few things you should do if you are able to. Of course, your first priority is tending to your injuries.
If you are seriously injured and in great pain, call for an ambulance immediately. If your injuries allow you to, try and get photographs of the scene and of your injuries. If you do not have a smartphone on you or if it is damaged, ask somebody else at the scene to do the needful. This is imperative before you even consider beginning the personal injury claims process.
Get the contact details of witnesses to the accident and ask them if they will testify on your behalf.
The next thing to do is to file a complaint at the nearest police station so there is a record of the incident. Get a copy of this record as it will help corroborate your claim.
Go to the nearest hospital or emergency medical centre and get your injuries attended to and logged on your medical records. Remember to obtain and keep the doctor’s notes and prescription. Also keep the receipts for all the payments made towards medications, doctor’s fees and treatment.
If long-term rehabilitation is required or if you need to make any structural changes to your home or vehicle in order to accommodate some disability brought on by the accident, keep those receipts too.
You are entitled to be compensated for all expenses that are a result of the accident so remember to keep all receipts and give them to your solicitor to calculate the amount of compensation you deserve.
If you had to miss work because of your injuries and you were not paid for that period of time, you will either need to submit your salary statement as evidence or provide a letter from your employer to this effect. You will also need documents supporting your personal injury claim for loss of promotion or other perks that you lost out on because you could not go to work.
Please continue reading to learn more about the personal injury claims process.
Time Limit For Filing A Personal Injury Claim
In general, the time limit for filing a compensation claim for personal injury is 3 years from the date of the accident. There are a few exceptions to this rule. For example, if you are claiming compensation for an asbestos-related injury (such as mesothelioma), the time limit is 3 years from the time you were diagnosed. This is because the symptoms of all asbestos exposure-related illnesses manifest themselves several months after the actual exposure.
If you have suffered an injury in an accident that was due to somebody else’s mistake or negligence, you are entitled to claim compensation. An experienced personal injury solicitor can not only settle your claim, but will handle all the formalities and ensure that you get the compensation you deserve while you take some time to heal from your injuries and put your life back together again.
Don’t let the lengthy personal injury claims process deter you from pursuing justice for your injuries.
Personal Injury Claims Process FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions about the personal injury claims process that claimants commonly ask.
How long does a personal injury claim take?
It’s difficult to say with certainty how long a personal injury claim will take. In simple cases where the defendant admits liability quickly, claims could be resolved in around 6 months. More complicated claims can take longer, such as those involving multiple injuries, injuries that are yet to heal, or if the defendant denies liability.
How many personal injury claims go to court?
The vast majority of personal injury claims are either settled or discontinued before they reach the court stage. So very few, in fact, go to court. The figure is around 5%.
How is a settlement paid out?
A settlement is usually awarded in a lump sum, accounting for the pain, suffering, loss of amenity and any financial losses. If injuries or care will be ongoing for some time to come, then payments may be made annually. This will all be agreed as part of the claim.
What is the average payout for a personal injury claim?
There are no average payouts for personal injury claims as they’re valued on a case-by-case basis according to the level of suffering experienced by the claimant. For a free estimate, please get in touch today for a consultation.
How is compensation calculated?
As mentioned above, compensation is calculated according to the level of suffering experienced by the claimant. This can be proven by an independent medical expert. At your appointment, you may be asked a few routine questions about how your accident impacted you generally, followed by a full physical examination to provide medical evidence for your claim in the form of medical reports.
What qualifies as pain and suffering?
Personal injury claims can compensate not only physical harm but psychological harm, which includes anything from stress and anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder. If your quality of life has been affected, including your relationships and career, this can also be compensated.
What are pain and suffering damages called?
General damages can be claimed to cover pain and suffering, whereas special damages can be claimed to cover any accident-related costs that you’ve had to pay.
What is a good settlement offer?
If you choose to work with our panel of personal injury lawyers, they’ll not only give you free advice on what a good settlement offer is but they’ll work to win you the maximum compensation you’re entitled to.
More Resources On The Personal Injury Claims Process
Below, we’ve included some more of our own guides that you may find to be useful, as well as some information from a few reliable external sources.
- A Guide To No Win No Fee Solicitors
- Accident At Work Claims Guide | Much Compensation Can I Claim?
- How Much Compensation For Car Accident Claims?
- The Law Society Guide To Paying For A Solicitor
- The Conditional Fee Agreements Order 2013
- A UK Government Guide To Claiming Compensation After An Accident Or Injury
Thank you for reading our guide to the personal injury claims process. Once again, if you’re looking for a personal injury lawyer, please get in touch with our legal team at Legal Expert today.