If you suffer an injury and you think it might be the consequence of someone else’s negligence, then it’s possible you could make a claim for compensation.

Here, Ellisons’ Head of Personal Injury, Stevan Stratton, shares his expert advice and explains how you can discover whether you have a legitimate claim and what might be due to you as recompense.

 What are the stages of a personal injury claim?

If you have suffered an injury and you think you may be able to make a claim, then your first step should always be to seek professional legal advice. A solicitor will assess whether or not legal representation can be provided to you on a ‘no win no fee’ basis. To determine the validity of your claim, your solicitor will need to assess who was responsible for your accident and injury and gather evidence around the severity of your injuries and financial losses. All parties involved should be keen to find a fair and reasonable settlement as quickly as possible, to reduce legal costs and court time, so successful claims will usually settle out of court.

What will it cost me to make a claim?

Under a ‘no win no fee’ agreement, your solicitor’s costs will only be payable if you win and, in that case, they will be recovered from the Defendant. The costs payable for any disbursements, such as court or expert fees, will be covered by an insurance policy that is usually taken out by your solicitor at the outset of your case. There is nothing to pay for that insurance unless you win and, in that case, the relatively small premium is deducted from your compensation. If your claim is not successful (and you do not receive any compensation), you will not have to pay any costs providing that you have been consistent and honest with your instructions throughout.

How long does a personal injury claim take?

The time it takes to reach a settlement in a personal injury claim can vary dramatically depending on the complexity of the claim, both in terms of  liability (who was responsible for the accident)  and the extent of injuries and losses. A successful claimant can usually expect their personal injury case to be settled within 12 to 24 months although cases can take longer than this and, if court proceedings are required, the process will take longer.

How many personal injury claims go to court?

It is actually quite rare for a case to go to court, as the vast majority are resolved through an out of court settlement. Personal injury cases that end up in court are often more complex in nature or concern claims for more than £25,000. Generally, these amount to less than 5% of cases.

How long after an accident can you file a claim?

Typically, you have three years from the date of your accident to  start your claim at court. There are some variations to that, such as where the claimant is a child or lacks capacity.

What happens if I lose my personal injury claim?

If you lose your personal injury claim, you will not have to pay any costs to your opponent as long as no finding of fundamental dishonesty is made against you by a Judge. With a ‘no win no fee’ agreement, your solicitor’s costs will effectively be written off. Other costs that might be payable, including disbursements like court or expert fees, will also be covered by the legal expenses insurance policy mentioned above. There is nothing to pay for that insurance unless you win. If you win your claim, you pay just the premium of the insurance, which is subtracted from your compensation.

Should I accept an offer of compensation?

Often the circumstances around a personal injury are traumatic and can create a very turbulent time in an individual’s life. Finding a very quick resolution might seem attractive, but it does not always work out to be in the best interests of the victim. There is no need to feel pressured into making a decision as you have up to three years from the date of the incident to start court proceedings for a compensation claim, and it is also important to ensure that you have the benefit of comprehensive medical expert evidence and legal advice on that evidence to assess and quantify the full impact of your injuries before making a decision.

Can I claim if the accident was partly my fault?

Yes, it is possible to still make a claim even if what happened in the incident was partly your fault. Attributing the liability of an accident isn’t always clear cut and doesn’t always rest fully with one party. You may be able to bring a claim even if your own actions in some way contributed to the events relating to the accident, as the other party’s responsibilities remain.

Are personal injury claims taxable?

Many people do worry that if they receive a lump sum payment in compensation, they may have to pay tax on the money that is paid to them and therefore lose out on a proportion of their compensation. However, this is not the case. You don’t have to pay tax on any personal injury compensation.

Does personal injury compensation affect benefits?

Should you receive a large sum of money in compensation, this can have an impact on the benefits that you are able to claim. However, a Personal Injury Trust can be set up in order to ensure that your compensation does not impact on any means-tested benefits.

Making a compensation claim is unlikely to affect your benefits should you already be on state benefit or income support, however if you have received benefits as a result of your accident, those benefits may need to be repaid to the DWP by the Defendant which may impact on your claim.

Choosing the right personal injury Lawyer

It’s essential to research the reputation of the personal injury solicitor you want to represent you and find a law firm you are comfortable and confident with. There are many ways to get an accurate view on how good a personal injury lawyer is and online research is of course an easy and efficient way of doing this. But it can also be very helpful to speak to people who have used law firms in the past and make a judgement on the real-life experiences of those previous clients. Seek out testimonials and case studies that demonstrate the level of experience that your lawyer has and speak to people you trust for advice.

Why Ellisons?

At Ellisons we have an experienced Personal Injury team, who can help guide you through the process of reviewing your claim and securing compensation for you. Our friendly team will get to know you and the circumstances of your claim. We will communicate clearly with you as to what is involved and throughout each stage of your claim. We understand the distress and worry that a claim can place on the claimant, and our intention is always to make the legal process as simple and straight-forward as possible for you, to try and secure private medical treatment and rehabilitation wherever needed and to recover the compensation that you are entitled to for your pain, suffering and financial losses.  Contact the Personal Injury team here.