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Personal injury claims

What is a personal injury claim?

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

Can I make a claim?

To make a personal injury claim, the law says your injury must 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. Reassuringly, if you think you were at fault – you may be surprised and relieved to find out you were not to blame at all; and even if you were partly to blame, you could still make a compensation claim.

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

When should I claim?

In the UK, there’s usually a time limit of three years in which to start a personal injury claim. This period starts either from the date the accident happened, or from when you first found out that the injury or condition was caused by the original accident. This is known in law as the ‘date of knowledge’.

If you’re claiming for a child or someone who lacks mental capacity, the time limits are much more generous. A specialist legal adviser can explain this to you.

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*.

Personal Injury Payouts

Compensation – General Damages

An individual who suffers personal injury as a result of someone else’s negligence is entitled to financial compensation. Compensation for actual injuries sustained and loss of earnings are called ‘general damages’. Special damages covers other losses, usually financial, resulting from your injuries.

The amount of general damages for personal injury that an individual may receive depends on many factors, and is based on the specific circumstances of their case. Factors that are taken into account include:

  • The nature and severity of the injury/ies
  • The recovery and rehabilitation time
  • The extent of any long term disabilities suffered
  • Any psychological damage caused by the injury
  • Loss of earnings

How much will I receive?

In civil claims for personal injury compensation, there is no average or fixed amount of compensation paid out per injury given there are so many variables (unlike in criminal injury compensation claims). If you’ve sustained a personal injury, it is important to seek the advice of expert personal injury lawyers who will assess your case on its merits and advise how much compensation you could expect to receive.

Helpfully, there is important guidance available for assessing how much an injury should be compensated.

The Judicial College Guidelines

The Judicial College Guidelines (currently in the 16th edition) are commonly referred to by personal injury lawyers when assessing a fair award of compensation for general damages. The guidelines are regularly updated to reflect recent court awards and the Retail Price Index. The latest edition was published in 2022.

The maximum award for general damages under the 16th edition of the guidelines is £403,990 for conditions such as very severe brain injury or tetraplegia.

List Of Compensation Payouts In The UK

Below are a range of examples of general damages under the Judicial College Guidelines. You will see that for some types of injury there are four classifications, ranging from mild to very severe and permanent, while in others there are fewer. This simply reflects the guidance.

The above is a guide only, and expert legal advice should be taken from experienced personal injury lawyers before the value of your injury can be calculated.

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

Special Damages

It is common to hear of multi-million pound personal injury awards and settlements: these awards will mostly be made up of special damages. Special damages are separate to general damages and are paid out effectively to refund the injured person for financial losses incurred as a result of the accident and their injuries. Sometimes, special damages can exceed the amount of general damages awarded.

Special damages typically include:

  • Medical costs and expenses (including private treatment)
  • Lost earnings from time off work, loss of future earnings and the impact on your career
  • Travel and accommodation costs
  • Any alterations made to your home or vehicle

Compensation For Criminal Injuries

If you are the innocent victim of a violent crime, you can claim personal injury compensation from a government-funded scheme called the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. These claims are very different to civil claims for personal injury compensation.

For detailed information about eligibility under the CICS scheme you can read here.

Importantly, there’s a significant difference in how general damages is calculated for criminal injuries. Instead of compensation being calculated and negotiated with the other side, taking into account the nature and extent of the injuries, ‘criminal injuries’ are compensated by reference to a fixed tariff.

The following are examples of how much common criminal injuries are worth under the current tariff:

Proving negligence

To be able to make a personal injury claim, your injury must have been somebody else’s fault (i.e., they were negligent). Your solicitor will need prove on balance that:

  • The other person, whether that’s an individual or a business or public body, was responsible for your injury owed you a duty of care;
  • The duty was breached;
  • You were injured as a result of that breach of duty; and
  • The injury was a foreseeable consequence of the breach of duty.

How to start a personal injury claim

Starting a personal injury claim can seem a daunting prospect. But a trained legal adviser can put you in touch with a highly experienced injury solicitor, who will sensitively guide you through the process and undertake the hard work on your behalf.

The first step to making a claim is to get in touch with a legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438. This gives you the chance to ask any questions, and 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 will provide a free consultation and make sure you’re happy to go ahead before taking any further steps.

And remember: if you don’t feel ready to start your claim, there is no obligation to. Your adviser will always ask your permission before putting you in touch with a solicitor.

Our Guide to Personal Injury Claims

Jargon-free information about claiming

If you’ve suffered from an injury which was somebody else’s fault and are thinking about making a personal injury claim, then it’s likely you have some questions about what’s involved.

There’s a lot of information available on the internet, and it’s very easy to become bogged down in legal jargon and complicated terms which can make the process of claiming even more confusing.

That’s why we’ve put together a simple guide which gives honest, straight-forward information about claiming, and deals with legal issues in a way which is easy to understand.

Whether you have a specific question in mind or are just looking for more details around how personal injury claims work, you can browse the information here for the answers you need.

And if you’re still feeling unsure, you can reach a trained legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438 – they’ll never pressure you into making a claim but will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Making the claims process as simple as possible

We know that the time following an injury can be incredibly stressful. As well as dealing with the physical pain, you might also be feeling alone and isolated.

It’s easy to put off starting a claim because you think it might be time-consuming or stressful – you might just want to focus on your recovery, without having to worry about a personal injury case.

Your legal adviser will do everything they can to make the claims process as simple as possible. Right from the start, they’ll speak to you in simple terms – giving you straight answers and protecting you from hidden fees or costs.

They’ll then be able to save you the time and effort of finding a solicitor, by putting you in touch with one of their specialist partner law firms who will have experience dealing with cases like yours. Once they’ve passed you over, your solicitor will be able to do most of the paperwork on your behalf and will negotiate your compensation for you.

You’ll be left with the time and space to focus on your recovery and getting things back to normal, but your solicitor will work hard to secure you compensation so that you can get the financial support you need.

Taking the first steps

Starting a claim today is easy. The first thing to do is get in touch for free on 0800 234 6438. The adviser you will speak to is legally trained, which means they’ll be able to let you know whether you could make a compensation claim.

They’ll also be happy to answer your questions, without any pressure to go ahead with a claim. But if you do choose to start your claim, they can pass your case on to a specialist personal injury solicitor for another free conversation.

The solicitor will ask some more questions about what happened to you, so that they can understand the best way they can help. Then, if you’d still like to continue, they’ll get in touch with the other party to let them know of your intention to make a compensation claim.

Your solicitor will negotiate your compensation on your behalf but will keep you updated with any progress or offers of compensation. They’ll also be on-hand to advise you on whether it’s best to accept an offer or to hold out for a better offer.

Types of claim

We know what a shock it can be to suffer an injury which wasn’t your fault, especially if you’re faced with a long recovery time or permanent symptoms or a disability. Unfortunately, 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 – which are there to keep you safe – they’ve put you at risk. All employers have a ‘duty of care’, for instance under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to provide 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 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 to take out insurance to cover the costs of compensation claims.

And you can’t legally be fired for bringing a compensation claim after an accident at work. If your employer tries to dismiss you, you can could also bring a successful claim for unfair dismissal. If your employer makes your life a misery because of your injury claim and you’ve been put in an impossible position and feel you have no choice but to resign, you could pursue a claim for constructive dismissal.

Road traffic accidents

Public roads can be very dangerous, especially when other drivers are reckless. Drink driving and speeding are prime examples of how other road users can put you at risk. Poorly maintained road surfaces can also cause serious accidents – for example, potholes can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and lead to injuries.

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, you could make a personal injury claim.

Medical negligence claims

GPs, surgeons, doctors and dentists and other medical or health professionals are highly trained. Even so, mistakes do still happen and cause serious harm to the patients who have been failed.

If a medical or health professional was negligent causing you an injury or making your condition worse, 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 slip or trip accident was caused by the owner or manager of a public place – such as a bar, restaurant, shop or supermarket.

Building a case for a compensation claim

After suffering an injury, it can be useful to collect some details as these can help significantly with 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 you don’t need to worry, a solicitor can still help you.

If you can, you should do the following:

  • Take down the contact details of any witnesses
  • Take photos or videos of the scene of the accident, any injuries to you and any damage to property
  • In some cases, you might be able to gain access to CCTV footage of the accident
  • Keep a written record of the accident itself and any problems that you face in your daily life since it happened
  • Write down the details of any expenses caused by your accident, as well as keeping receipts, invoices, etc.
  • If you’ve been a road traffic accident caused by an uninsured driver or it was a hit-and-run incident, it is crucial to report the matter to the police within 14 days, without delay

A specialist solicitor will help you gather all the evidence you need. In time, this will also include witness statements and medical reports to help build the strongest possible case. Your solicitor will negotiate with the other side to try to 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 and partly someone else’s fault.

For example, if you were injured because you used a piece of equipment without following your training; or you didn’t wear a helmet while cycling and your injuries were worse than if you had worn one; or you travelled as a passenger even though you knew the driver was drunk.

If you are found to be partly negligent (this is called ‘contributory negligence’), any compensation payable by the other party will be reduced by a percentage reflecting the amount you are to blame.

No win no fee*

Most injury solicitors will be able to bring your claim on a no win no fee basis. This means there is no financial risks to you as you won’t have to pay your solicitor any legal costs if your claim isn’t successful.

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 it will never be more than 25% of the general damages you receive.

If you have any questions, or are interested in starting your no win no fee claim and want to find out whether you might have a case, speak with a trained legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438.

How long will a personal injury claim take?

This will depend on a variety of factors such as:

  • How complicated your case will be
  • The extent of your injuries and prognosis
  • How much compensation you are claiming
  • Whether liability is admitted
  • How long it takes to get medical and other expert reports
  • Whether the other party will agree a fair out of court settlement

Simple road traffic accident claims involving minor injuries can be settled in a matter of months if liability is admitted. On the other hand, if you are seriously injured or liability is denied it can take much 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 govern these claims. The protocols set strict standards as to how a case is to be 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 accept responsibility or a compensation settlement cannot be reached, your claim will be allocated by the court to one of three ‘tracks’ (the small track, fast track or multi-track). Allocation 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.

Other Important Information

*No Win No Fee

  • Although all our cases are handled on a no win no fee basis, other costs could be payable upon solicitors request. These will be fully explained to you before you proceed. Most customers will pay 25% (including VAT) of the compensation they are awarded to their law firm, although this may vary based on individual circumstances. Your solicitor may arrange for insurance to be in place for you to make sure your claim is risk free. Termination fees based on time spent may apply, or in situations such as: lack of cooperation or deliberately misleading our solicitors, or failing to go to any medical or expert examination, or court hearing.
  • *Criminal Injury Claims

  • If you want to make a claim for a criminal injury, you are not required to use the services of a claims management company to pursue the claim. You can submit your claim for free on your own behalf, directly to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (England, Wales, and Scotland) or the Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme (Northern Ireland).
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

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.