How to… Make a Personal Injury Claim


What is a personal injury?

A personal injury can be:

Often the physical injury will be accompanied by a psychological one, for example someone who was hit by a car may experience flashbacks and anxiety.

Personal Injury

In a personal injury claim you need to show:
  • Your injury was caused by someone else's failure or negligence, eg the supermarket failed to clean up the spill
  • Your injury was the direct result of the other person's neglect, eg you suffered a sprained ankle because the supermarket did not clean up the spill as it should have done so

Is there a time limit for when I can make a claim?

You have 3 years from the date of your accident to make a claim.

However, if you were a child at the time of the accident you have 3 years from turning 18 to bring a claim.

What details will my solicitor need?

It is always best to choose a solicitor with experience in personal injury. Look for a solicitor who is a member of the Law Society Personal Injury Accreditation Scheme or the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

Your solicitor will need the following before they can start your personal injury claim:
  • The date of the accident
  • How the accident happened
  • Details of your injuries - medical reports from your doctor would be useful
  • Photographs of the accident or where it took place
  • The names and contact details of any witnesses

This is not a complete list but it will give your solicitor a good starting point for your personal injury claim.

What is the process of a personal injury claim?

Firstly, your solicitor will send a letter of claim to the other party. This will clearly set out the details of the accident using the information you have provided.

The other party must reply to the letter within 3 months, stating whether they accept responsibility for your accident or not. If they accept responsibility then you will not need to go to court and can agree compensation.

If they do not accept responsibility for your injury then your solicitor will seek more evidence to support your claim and continue with negotiations. You might have to see a doctor or medical professional who will assess your injuries and whether they were a result of your accident.

In personal injury claims you do not usually have to go to court. Often, an offer is made by one of the parties to the other until they agree a figure - your solicitor will aim to get the best amount of compensation for you.

How much compensation will I be awarded for my personal injury?

Compensation often comes in 2 parts:
  • General damages
  • Special damages

General damages are a lump sum awarded for the pain and suffering caused by your injury. It is generally accepted that the more serious the harm the bigger the sum of general damages.

Special damages are awarded for past and future financial losses due to your injury. These could include anything from lost earnings because you were out of work or the costs of medical treatments and drugs.

How much will a solicitor cost?

Some solicitors may offer to take your case on a 'no win no fee' basis. If you win your case then the other side should pay your costs. If you lose then you may have to pay the winning party's legal fees and expenses.

Your solicitor may recommend that you take out insurance to cover those costs called after the event (ATE) insurance. ATE insurance will protect you if you are unsuccessful in winning your claim.

If you are a member of a trade union then you may be entitled to free or reduced legal costs. It is worth raising this issue with your solicitor. Often the trade union will cover workplace accidents, but in some circumstances they cover accidents that affect your loved ones as well.

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