In a personal injury claim, the burden is on you, the Claimant, to prove that you have suffered your injuries because of the breach of a duty of care, or negligence, owed to you by another, whom we call the Defendant.
You must also prove that the injury is more than trivial, that it has caused you pain and suffering, and often, but not always, financial losses, such as a loss of income and out of pocket expenses like medical costs and travel costs. For the most serious catastrophic personal injury claims, such as brain and spinal cord injury, the Claimant is likely to need expensive round the clock professional care and assistance with the day to day activities that we take for granted, as well as medical aids and equipment to help them to recover their mobility and quite possibly a new home or adaptations to their existing home to cater for their lifetime needs.
The most common causes of personal injury in the UK are road and work accidents.
- Roads – Our road network is one of the most congested in Europe and it is therefore no wonder that we are unfortunate to have some of the highest number of road traffic accidents here in the UK, causing thousands to suffer personal injury every year. The primary cause of most road accidents is excessive speed
- Work – The Health and Safety Executive reports annually on the staggering number of working people in the UK who suffer a personal injury at work or a work-related illness, such as latent asbestos exposure.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the basis of a claim, legally and practically?
Legally, you must prove that the proposed Defendant owed you a duty of care and secondly that the Defendant breached that duty of care and are therefore negligent.
If you can prove negligence, you also must prove a link between that negligence and your resulting injuries and any consequent financial losses. We call the link causation. That link must not be broken by any intervening act or circumstances.
The burden of proof rests with you the Claimant. You must prove that it is more likely than not that your version of events is correct and proves the negligence and causation in question.
In an accident at work claim, for example, the actual list of allegations is likely to be lengthy and various but essentially you would be saying that you were exposed to an avoidable hazard and the Defendant failed to provide you with a safe system of work and they exposed you to a danger and a foreseeable risk of injury.
I have medical reports; can I use those to prove my case?
Yes and no. The medical records and any consultant’s reports go to prove the nature of the injury, the treatment received and diagnosis. To prove negligence and loss, a Claimant must rely upon supportive independent expert medical evidence. Without supportive expert medical evidence, there is no case. We arrange this for you.
How much will it cost to bring a personal injury claim?
At the outset we will have explained to you the various methods of funding your personal injury claim and help you to choose the right one for your demands and needs.
You can choose to pay us privately although in almost every case, if we consider your claim to have reasonable prospects, we will offer to act for you under a Conditional Fee Agreement (‘no win no fee’).
The amount of costs involved will depend upon how long a case may take, the Defendant’s behaviour, the volume of evidence and witnesses, the costs charged by other experts such as doctors, and the court fees should you need to start proceedings, for example, in a personal injury claim the court issue fee can be as much as an eye-watering £10,000.
It is difficult to be precise about cost as no two cases are ever the same. In general, if the value of your personal injury claim is less than £25,000, we will receive a fixed fee from the losing Defendant’s insurer, but only if we win your case.
For the higher value and more complex cases, it follows that the legal fees will be greater. We may ask you to agree to pay a contribution towards the fees from your damages at the very end – we call this a success fee. Also, should you not have any suitable insurance cover, we will almost certainly advise you to take out a policy of legal expenses insurance to provide you with indemnity against the risk of losing your case and being ordered by a court to pay some of your opponent’s costs as well as the legal expenses, such as the fees and expenses of medical experts, that we have incurred on your behalf. The premium for the insurance is payable by you, although not until the end of the case and you pay it only if you actually go on to win and recover damages.
What are Court Proceedings?
If you are the victim of an accident that wasn’t your fault and choose to bring a personal injury claim, there is the possibility that in order to win your claim and secure the best outcome, you will need to start Court Proceedings.
From your first meeting with your solicitor, they will be assessing your case and will advise you if you do need to issue court proceedings.
The most common causes of personal injury in the UK are road traffic accidents and accidents in the workplace. In these cases, it is relatively easy to apportion blame and most successful personal injury claims are resolved without the need for expensive and time-consuming court proceedings, or they settle out of court after proceedings have commenced.
If a suitable settlement cannot be reached, or the defendant denies responsibility for your personal injury, your solicitor will advise that you issue court proceedings.
The rules which govern personal injury claims, the Civil Procedure Rules, actively encourage parties to settle. If you refuse to even contemplate a compromise, the court has the power to penalise you, in costs.
Once court proceedings have been issued, and the defence is acknowledged, the court orders the parties (Claimant and Defendant) to file a report (Directions Questionnaire). These provide details of probably witnesses and experts and a timetable required to prepare the case for trial.
A court will also determine whether to multi-track or fast-track a case. In most personal injury claims, more complex cases are allocated to multi-track, and more straightforward cases are fast track.
Many people feel anxious about a day in court, but as long as you have a good cased and the support of your legal team there is nothing to fear.
Your legal team will have prepared for your trial and sent the court a trial bundle, containing all the relevant documents for your case. You will also read through and sign the evidence prior to it being sent to the court to ensure everything is correct.
In a previous blog, Grant Evatt explains the court proceedings process, using a ‘simple’ accident at work claim as an example.
Who should I instruct? How do I choose the right personal injury solicitor for me?
Don’t be drawn in by those cheesy daytime TV adverts, the cold calls and the text messages, promising you a bumper pay day. A complex personal injury claim requires strong technical competence and a skill set that will only be found within a specialist law firm.
A specialist will have demonstrated that they have achieved the very highest of standards and personal injury accreditation is the mark of quality which will set them apart from their peers. The two accreditation schemes to look out for when choosing your personal injury lawyer are those run by the Law Society and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.
No Win No Fee
In most cases we will offer to act for you under a Conditional Fee Agreement, commonly known as a 'no-win-no-fee' agreement. If we win your claim, then whilst you may have to make a modest contribution to the legal costs from your damages, just how much is carefully assessed on a case-by-case basis and agreed with you from the outset.
Call us for a free and confidential chat to see how we can help 01264 355477 or if you prefer, email on email@example.com