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Personal injury claims

What is a personal injury claim?

A ‘personal injury’ is any injury or illness which was somebody else’s fault. If you’ve been injured due to somebody else’s negligence, or your condition has been made worse, then you could make a personal injury claim. Making a claim allows you to recover compensation from the negligent party to cover the expenses of your injury and the effect it’s had on your life.

Can you make a claim?

To be able to make a personal injury claim, your injury has to have been somebody else’s fault. However, many people who get in touch with a solicitor aren’t sure who was at fault for their injury – in some cases, it can be very difficult for you to tell straight away.

That’s why a trained legal adviser can help – they have the experience and expertise to be able to understand who is liable for your injury, so they’ll be able to let you know quickly whether they think you’ll be able to make a successful claim. You can reach an adivser for free on 0800 234 6438, or fill in one of the contact forms on this page.

In the UK, there’s usually a time limit of three years to make a personal injury claim. This starts either from the date the accident happened, or from when your first found out that the injury was caused by the original accident – this is known as the ‘date of knowledge’.

DID YOU KNOW: It’s possible to make a claim for compensation even if the responsible party can’t be identified, via bodies like the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

Proving negligence

To be able to make a personal injury claim, your injury has to have been somebody else’s fault (ie, they were negligent). You need to be able to show that:

How to start a personal injury claim

Starting a personal injury claim can be a daunting prospect. But a trained legal adviser can put you in touch with a highly qualified solicitor, who will be able to guide you through the process step-by-step, and can do most of the hard work for you.

The first step to making a claim is to get in touch with a legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438. Talking to them gives you the chance to ask any questions you might have, and it also allows them to understand whether you could make a case. To do this, they’ll need to ask you some questions about your accident and injury – but don’t worry, they’ll never ask anything which isn’t necessary for your claim.

If your adviser thinks you can make a claim, they’ll put you in touch with the right personal injury solicitor for your case. The solicitor speak to you for free, and will make sure you’re happy to go ahead before getting started.

And remember: if you don’t feel ready to start your claim, you don’t have to. Your adviser will always ask your permission before putting you in touch with a solicitor.

Types of claim

We know how shocking it can be to suffer from an injury which wasn’t your fault, especially if you’re faced with a long recovery time or permanent symptoms. Accidents can happen at almost any time, which is why we can help you make a claim for lots of different types of accident.

Accidents at work

If your employer has failed to follow health and safety rules put in place to keep you safe, then they’ve put you at risk. All employers have a ‘duty of care’ under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to make sure you have the equipment and training you need to be able to carry out your job safely and to carry out risk assessments to ensure you are as safe as possible as you undertake your work.

Everyone has the right to feel safe at work – so if you’ve suffered an injury while doing your job, you may be feeling frustrated and let down. You may want to seek help to make a work injury claim.

You needn’t worry that bringing a claim will put your employer in financial difficulty: employers are required by law to take out insurance to cover the costs of compensation claims.

You also cannot legally be fired for bringing a compensation claim after an accident at work. If your employer tries to do so you are likely to be able to make a successful claim for unfair dismissal. If your employer makes your life a misery because of your claim, meanwhile, and you feel you have no choice but to resign, you are likely to have a valid case for pursuing a claim for constructive dismissal.

Road traffic accidents

The roads can be very dangerous, especially when other drivers are reckless. Drink driving and speeding are just two examples of ways in which other road users can put you at risk. But poorly maintained road surfaces can also cause serious accidents – for example, potholes can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

If your accident was another road user’s fault, or was caused by the local council or Highway Authority’s failure to maintain the road properly, then you could make a personal injury claim.

Medical negligence claims

GPs, surgeons, doctors and dentists are highly trained professionals. But, unfortunately, mistakes do still happen, and the repercussions on you as a patient can be extremely serious.

If a medical professional has caused you to become injured or has made your condition worse due to a poor standard of treatment or a misdiagnosis of your condition, then you could be in a position to make a medical negligence claim.

Slips, trips and falls

Slips, trips and falls might sound minor, but they can cause sprains, fractures and long-lasting damage to the back or joints.

You could make a personal injury claim if your accident was caused by the owner or manager or a public place – such as a bar, restaurant, shop or supermarket.

How much compensation will you receive?

If you’re thinking about making a personal injury claim, you might be wondering how much money you’ll receive, and whether it will be enough to cover the expenses caused by your injury. Although we’re unable to tell you exactly how much you’ll receive (because no two cases are the same), we can assure you that an expert injury solicitor will take all the costs of your injury into consideration. This could include:

For a guideline figure of how much compensation you could be owed, you can visit our compensation calculator.

Building a case for a compensation claim

After suffering from an injury, it can be useful to collect some details as these can help when it comes to making a compensation claim. We know it might not always be possible to do so, especially if your injuries were very severe – so if you haven’t managed to get the details below then don’t worry, a solicitor can still help you.

If you can, you should do the following:

A specialist solicitor will help you gather all the evidence you need – such as witness statements and medical reports – to help you build the strongest possible case. They will negotiate with the relevant parties to try and win you an out of court settlement, but if the case does go to court they will be with you every step of the way.

Contributory negligence

You may be able to claim some compensation even if the injury you suffered was partly your fault – as long as someone else’s negligence was partly to blame too.

For example, if you were injured because you used a piece of equipment without following the training you have received; if you didn’t wear a helmet while cycling and your injuries could have been reduced by doing so; or if you travelled as a passenger in a vehicle even though you knew the driver was drunk.

If such contributory negligence is found on your part, the court may still order the defendant to pay you compensation but this will be reduced according to how much the judge thinks the accident was your fault.

No win no fee

Most injury solicitors will be able to bring your claim on a no win no fee basis. This means you won’t have to pay your solicitor any money if your claim isn’t successful. The benefit of no win no fee is that there’s no financial risk involved – if you don’t’ receive any compensation, you won’t have to pay out of your own pocket.

If your claim is successful, your solicitor will charge a ‘success fee’ out of your compensation. This amount will have been agreed before starting your case, but you can feel sure that this will be a relatively small portion of the money you receive.

If you have any questions, or are interested in starting a claim and want to find out whether you might have a case, you can speak to a trained legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438.

How long will a claim take?

The length of time it will take you to receive your compensation will differ depending on a variety of factors such as:

Simple road traffic accident claims involving fairly minor injuries can be settled in a matter of months if liability is admitted, but if you are seriously injured, liability is denied or your case has to go to court, it can take longer.

Pre action protocols and tracks

Your compensation claim will be dealt with by your solicitor under the rules of the personal injury Pre-action Protocol which governs the type of claim you are bringing. The protocols set strict standards of how a case is dealt with before formal court proceedings are issued.

These include the Pre-Action Protocol for Personal Injury Claims; the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents, the Pre-Action Protocol for the Resolution of Clinical Disputes and the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury (Employers’ Liability and Public Liability) Claims.

If the case has to go to court because the other side doesn’t admit responsibility, or because you can’t agree a compensation settlement, your claim will then be allocated by the court to one of three ‘tracks’ (the small track, fast track or multi-track). This will depend on the value and nature of the claim.

Your solicitor and the other side will then have to work to a strict timetable with the aim of bringing your claim to an end as soon as possible.

About the Author

Lucy Trevelyan LLB

Lucy is a NCTJ trained journalist who studied law at the University of Greenwich. She is a legal journalist and editor with more than 20 years experience writing about the law.

When you submit your details, you'll be in safe hands. Our partners are National Accident Helpline (a brand of National Accident Law, a firm of personal injury solicitors regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority). They are the UK's leading personal injury service. Their friendly legal services advisers will call you to talk about your claim and give you free, no-obligation advice. National Accident Law may pay us a marketing fee for our services.

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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.