Starting a compensation claim can seem daunting, and we know you might have some questions about what the process involves and whether we can help you.
We’ve answered some common questions below, but you can also get in touch with a trained legal adviser for free advice on 0800 234 6438. They’ll never pressure you into starting a claim and will be happy to give you the advice you need.
If you’ve been injured in an accident which was somebody else’s fault, it’s best to a speak to a trained legal adviser about the accident and your injuries to see if you can claim compensation. You can reach them for free on 0800 234 6438. Not all accidents just ‘happen’, and the law allows you to claim compensation from anyone who failed in their duty of care towards you, causing your injuries. The amount you can claim depends on how badly you were injured, whether your injury will affect your day-to-day life, as well as any financial losses. Most types of claims need to be started within three years of the accident, but there are some exceptions to this.
A personal injury can be a physical injury, or mental, emotional or psychological harm. Personal injuries are not limited to what most people normally think of as personal injuries, such as cuts and broken bones. They also include diseases and conditions, such as asbestosis, emotional trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.
With a no win no fee agreement, you won’t have to pay your solicitors fee if your claim isn’t successful. This takes the financial risk out of making a claim, and avoids you being left out-of-pocket. Your solicitor will also take out ‘After the Event’ insurance, which will cover the costs of any expert medical reports, court fees or other legal costs. If you win your case, you’ll need to pay your solicitor a ‘success fee’ as a percentage of the compensation you receive. The amount will have been agreed before starting your claim.
Yes, you can claim compensation on behalf of a ‘minor’ (someone under 18) or a ‘protected party’ (someone who can’t make a claim themselves). For example, this might include an adult who has been seriously injured and lacks mental capacity. By claiming on behalf of a child or protected party, you’ll be their ‘litigation friend’. This means you’ll be responsible for acting in their best interests, including helping them get the compensation they’re entitled to. Normally, a close relative will act as litigation friend, but if you were the party at fault, another family member will need to be appointed instead.
You can start a compensation claim by getting in touch with a trained legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438. They’ll ask some questions about your accident and injury so that they can get a better idea of what happened, and they’ll then let you know whether they think you can make a claim. If you decide you’d like to take the next step, they can put you forward to a specialist solicitor. Your solicitor will get in touch with the other party to let them know that you intend to make a claim. Most cases are settled before going to court, and your solicitor will be able to negotiate on your behalf and do most of the paperwork for you.
There are time limits for making a claim. Under the Limitation Act 1980, an adult has to start their claim within three years of the accident (or the date they first became aware that they’d been treated negligently). Children have three years from their 18th birthday to make a claim, and for someone who is mentally incapacitated because of their injuries, the three-year period starts to run when they’re no longer under a mental disability.
You will need to follow your solicitor’s advice as to what you can do to help your claim, but your solicitor will do the bulk of the work for you. What you can do is concentrate on your recovery and, if you can, keep a diary of how your life and work is affected; keep photographs of your injuries; keep records of expenses and lost earnings; and see your GP to make sure there are full medical notes to support your claim.
This depends how serious your injuries are, how complex the claim is, and whether your claim goes to court. A claim for minor injuries, where fault is admitted, can be finished within months. Most cases are settled out of court, but it can sometimes take many months or longer to agree a fair settlement. In serious cases, it can take a long time to become clear about the full impact of injuries on your daily life and your ability to do your job.
Most claims are settled between the parties and so don’t have to go to court. However, if the other party refuses to accept responsibility for your injury, you’ll have to ask the court to decide the claim for you. In other cases, fault is admitted but the amount of compensation can’t be agreed, which means the court has to decide what’s a fair amount of compensation in the circumstances. If you do have to go to court, your solicitor will help you understand what will happen.
Many injury solicitors work on a ‘no win no win’ basis (also known as Conditional Fee Agreement). This means the other party will pay some or all of your legal costs if you win, but you’ll have to pay a percentage called a ‘success fee’ to your solicitor out of your compensation. An insurance policy will cover the financial risk of losing the claim, so you won’t be out of pocket.
The amount of money you’ll receive if you win depends on the type of injury you suffered, and extent of your injuries. Your solicitor will also take into consideration your rehabilitation needs and the effect your injuries will have on your future. We can’t tell you exactly how much you’ll receive from your claim because no two cases are exactly the same. But you can get a rough guideline by using our compensation calculator.
Most of the time, your compensation will be paid by the other party’s insurance company. They’ll either be a person or an organisation – known in the claim as the ‘defendant’. If your injuries were caused by an untraced or uninsured motorist, your compensation is usually paid out by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau.
Yes, but the claim will usually be against their insurance company and not your relative personally. This can be very reassuring for you and your loved one! For example, if you were a passenger in a vehicle and were injured in a crash caused by your partner, your personal injury claim will be against their insurance company. Or you may have tripped over a on a family member’s property, in which case you can claim against their home insurance. Whatever the circumstances, your solicitor will put your mind at rest if the claim involves a relative.
You can claim compensation for different types of loss including physical injuries and mental and emotional harm, and financial losses. You can claim for any expenses you’ve had to pay for as a result of your injury, including damage to your property, travel expenses, medical costs, alterations to your home, and loss of earnings. Loss of earnings can include loss of future earnings in some cases, as well as loss of pension entitlement if you can’t go back to work.
If you decide to start your claim, you’ll need to go for a medical assessment, which your solicitor will arrange for you. A medical assessment gives important evidence to support your compensation claim, as proof of your injuries. The doctor will review your medical history based on your medical notes (if you give your permission), and they will see you at a clinic to talk about your injuries with you. They’ll then put together a report, and your solicitor will use this as proof during your compensation claim.
We work with National Accident Helpline, who operate a panel of third party solicitor firms chosen based on their specialisms. The quality of the solicitors they partner with is closely monitored, so you can be sure you’ll be put in touch with the right solicitor for your case and that you’ll receive the standard of service you deserve.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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If you win your case, your solicitor's success fee will be taken from the compensation you are awarded - up to a maximum of 25%. Your solicitor will discuss any fees before starting your case.