Making a personal injury claim – how it works, and how much you might win
Personal injury claims are not designed to offer a windfall payment of money. The process works to, if possible, restore your life to how it was prior to the accident and resultant injury.
When you have been in an accident that wasn’t your fault, it may be that you have a claim for compensation. If this is the case, we’re here to help you understand the process, and the compensation you might get at the end of it. If you’d like to speak to a solicitor, please contact our team by clicking below:
Here’s what you need to know:
- How to start a personal injury claim
- How much compensation you might receive
- How long a claim will take
- What happens when a claim isn’t successful
- Changing your personal injury solicitor
How do I start a personal injury claim?
Depending on the nature of your injury, the value of your claim will change which could affect how you pursue a claim. In any case, the first port of call would still be with a personal injury solicitor, who will be able to advise you as to the potential value of your claim.
Should the estimated value of your claim not exceed £1,000, you should seek advice from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. However, representing yourself could leave you liable for the defendant’s (the person who you are claiming against) legal costs, should your claim be unsuccessful.
Therefore, if your claim is over £1,000 in value it is definitely worth seeking professional advice from a personal injury solicitor. They will be able to proceed with your claim on your behalf, often on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis meaning that should you lose your case you will not be liable for the defendant’s legal costs.
How much compensation could you receive?
As mentioned, personal injury compensation is designed to restore your life to how it was prior to your accident. Because everyone’s needs are different, though, it is difficult to advise on exactly how much you may receive for your claim from the outset.
When seeking compensation, a number of different factors are taken into account. You will be assessed by your solicitors and expert witnesses (for example, medical experts in a field relevant to your injury) who have experience with your injury, if applicable) to ascertain:
- the pain and suffering you have experienced as a result of your injury
- the prognosis for your injury – this will depend on what experts say will happen in the future in terms of recovery or deterioration of your condition, and they will often recommend some form of rehabilitation
- whether the injury has caused loss of earnings – these could be earnings you have lost during your recovery, or future earnings that your injury has meant you will miss out on
- the expenses you incurred as a result of your accident – for example, any equipment or belongings that have been damaged.
How long will a personal injury claim take?
When making a claim for personal injury, depending on your injury, often you can expect to receive a settlement (if you are successful) within six months to two years from starting the process.
Sometimes, in the event of a complex case such as a claim for a life-changing brain injury, the process can take a bit longer.
The timescales are really dependant on your recovery though if one can be made. The way compensation is calculated, a prognosis of how the injury has impacted upon you will be needed once you have made a full recovery; for example when you are able to return to work.
What happens when a personal injury claim is unsuccessful?
Personal injury claims, for whatever reason, are not always successful.
In order to protect clients from paying the defendant’s legal expenses in the event they lose their claim, solicitors can work on the basis of no win, no fee funding (sometimes known as a Conditional Fee Agreement, or CFA). Your solicitors will be insured for their costs if you lose, and if you win they will be paid by your opponent. However, this does impact upon the amount of compensation you recover, some of which will be reserved to pay your solicitors.
What if I already have representation for my claim, but want to change?
Sometimes when you have an accident, your insurer will provide you with legal representation for your personal injury. For many small or uncomplicated claims this can work out fine.
However, depending on the complexity of your injury, the solicitors your insurer has chosen may not have the specialist knowledge or connections with expert witnesses your claim requires; for example if you are suffering from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).
No matter what stage you have reached in the process, as long as the claim has not been concluded you are free to change your legal representation at any time.
A personal injury claim is a complex process, but if you find the right representation for you, your solicitor should help you shoulder the burden whilst you recover.