Solicitors Guide to Understanding Personal Injury Accident Claims

Posted on: 16 mins read
Amy Baker

Graduate Solicitor Apprentice

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In the UK, many people decide to claim compensation after being injured due to an accident which was someone else’s fault. In law, this is called a Personal Injury Claim. The most common of these accidents include road traffic accidents and accidents at work.

The latter (accidents at work) are a lot more common than you’d think. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that 565,000 working people suffered an injury at work in 2021/22. 

In addition, they found that some of the most common accidents were as follows:

  • Slips, trips and falls, constituting 30%
  • Being hit by a moving object, constituting 11%
  • Falls from a height, constituting 8%.

If you’ve sustained an injury or illness and someone else was liable, it can be difficult to get your life back to normal. That’s why Simpson Millar’s Personal Injury Solicitors can help you get the compensation you need to start to heal.

What Constitutes a Personal Injury Accident?

You might be confused about the legal jargon surrounding this area of the law, and that’s completely normal. A “personal injury” means any illness or injury which has been caused or worsened by another person or business. This could have emotional or physical effects, or – as is often the case – both.

It’s important to remember that everyone in the UK has the right to claim for compensation.

When you’re making a personal injury claim, you’ll be opening a legal case against whoever you think is liable for your suffering and pain, whether it’s a person, organisation or a business.

A personal injury can happen in lots of different situations. Sometimes, the effects can be minor, but in other circumstances, they could be serious and life-changing.

What Kinds of Personal Injury Claims can you Make?

Beginning a personal injury claim might feel like a daunting and potentially scary thing to do, but this doesn’t have to be the case. It’s a good idea to learn more about the different types of personal injury claims you can make, so that you fully understand what your rights are, if you sustain a personal injury. The more common personal injury claims include the following:

As well as fatal accidents, you can also make a claim for brain and head injuries. Also, you can make a claim for compensation if you’ve been diagnosed with an industrial disease or been in a road accident. Discover more about examples of injury claims here.

Get in touch today!

To find out more about how we can help you following an accident, get in touch with our friendly and compassionate personal injury team

How do I prove a personal injury accident?

If you’re looking to claim compensation for a personal injury after being in an accident, your Personal Injury Solicitor will need to understand the full extent of your condition, illness or injury, so that they can assess the value of your claim. 

An independent medical professional will assess your condition and create a report which explains your injuries, and how much they impact your life now and how much they will in the future. They will also outline the care, treatment and rehab you might need now and in the future. 

This will make sure your Personal Injury Solicitors are able to figure out as accurate a figure as possible as to how much compensation you could claim for. If they don’t do this, you could settle on a compensation amount which is a lot lower than what you should get – and there’s a risk that this won’t cover your future needs.

What is the claims process?

These are the steps which will be involved in your personal injury claims process when you’re making a claim for compensation for more than £25,000, instead of a fast-track claim which is a claim which falls below the £25,000 threshold. Please note that all personal injury cases are different, so the following is only a general guide to the personal injury claims process.

1)      Gathering Evidence and Finding Out Who is Responsible

Once we have taken your initial instructions, your claim will be passed to a Personal Injury Solicitor who specialises in the type of claim you are pursuing.  We’ll then figure out who exactly is responsible for the injury you’ve suffered.

It is really useful if, at the time of your accident you gather as much evidence as possible. This may include:

  • Witness Details
  • Photos / Video / CCTV
  • Medical Records (including copies of Accident book entries if this is an accident in a public place)
  • Records of conversations
  • Financial records that prove your losses
  • A drawing of the scene showing vehicles and other hazards (if you have a road traffic accident claim)
  • Details of any machinery that caused a hazard (if you have a workplace accident)
  • The cost of any care you have received (whether professional or provided by family) as a result of your injury.

Next, your Personal Injury Solicitor will draft a formal letter of claim.  This will lay out the details of the accident you were in, the injuries you suffered, and why your Solicitor thinks the other party is liable.

Once the letter of claim is sent, the defendant then has 21 days to acknowledge the letter of claim and then a further 3 months to investigate the accident. By the end of the 3 months, we would expect the defendant to have completed their investigations and to have provided their position on liability i.e., whether they admit or deny liability (fault).

2)      Medical Assessment

If the other party admits fault for the accident, your Personal Injury Lawyer will get your medical records and get you examined by a suitable medical professional. The expert will review your records, examine you and write a medico-legal report. This report will be written by either a doctor or another type of health professional, for legal proceedings. It’s an essential document when it comes to evidence, as it’ll be used to explain what your physical or mental injuries are. If you have more than one injury, you could be examined by multiple different experts.

What Kind of medical expert you get looked over by depends on your injury. For example, if you’ve broken a bone or multiple, an orthopaedic surgeon would be the most appropriate medical professional to examine you. Conversely, if you’ve sustained scarring due to the accident, a plastic surgeon would be instructed.

If there are any costs associated with obtaining these medical reports, they will form part of your claim against whoever was responsible for your injury.

If the other party denies that they were liable, we will expect them to explain why this is the case, and they should have to provide documents to support their decision.

These documents may include accident reports, risk assessments and maintenance records. Your Personal Injury Solicitor will look through the other party’s denial, and they will advise you about any merits this denial could have. It’s important to note that if the other party denies liability, this doesn’t have to mean that your Solicitor can’t proceed with your compensation claim. If they’re satisfied that the prospects of success are reasonable, they will continue to proceed with your case.

When you get the necessary medical evidence you need, your Solicitor will give you a copy of the medical professional’s report. Sometimes, the expert provides a final prognosis in the initial report, but often – especially in cases where the injuries are more severe, or where the symptoms are ongoing, further reports and treatment will be recommended. When the first medical report is obtained, your Solicitor will be able to advise you in more detail. It isn’t unusual in cases involving serious injury for your Solicitor to obtain a number of reports from experts in several different specialisms.

3)      Working out the compensation claim amount

When the medical evidence is finalised and your Personal Injury Solicitor has calculated how severeyour financial losses are, they will figure out the value of your claim and then advise you on the sum of the compensation settlement offer you should make to the other party. In some cases, your Personal Injury Solicitor might advise you to invite the defendant to make a settlement offer, instead of making one to them.

There are Personal injury compensation guidelines which can factor into the amount of General Damages which you could receive which is set out by the Judicial College Guidelines.

The financial amount you claim for varies on a case-by-case basis and depends largely on the extent of your injuries, how much care you required, whether you are able to get back to your usual routine both at home and at work following the injury, whether or not there are any care needs you’ll have in the future, and whether you’ll need any adaptations in your home to help you cope with a long term or life changing injury. 

4)      Personal Injury Settlement Agreement

Ideally, the other party who is responsible for the injury you sustained will accept that they’re at fault or they’ll want to negotiate a settlement outside of Court.

If the other party refuses to admit liability, or if you can’t negotiate a proper compensation settlement, it might be right to start Court proceedings. In effect, this means asking the Court to decide whether the other party is to blame for your accident. If they’re found to be liable, you’ll be asking the Court to make a decision as to how much your claim is worth. Your Personal Injury Solicitor will advise and guide you further if this happens.

How much personal injury compensation could you receive?

A personal injury compensation settlement consists of both General Damages and Special Damages. Simply put, General Damages concern the loss of amenity, suffering and pain you’ve dealt with. Special Damages relate to your financial losses such as lost earnings and out of pocket expenses. To accurately value General Damages, a report by a medical expert is needed.

The General Damages

Such damages should reflect how severe your injury is, the suffering and pain you’ve dealt with, as well as the extent to which your injury affects your life now. Our Solicitors generally use the Judicial College Guidelines as guidelines to calculate your general damages.

See below for an example of the general damages for back injuries:

Judicial College Guidelines
16th Edition for back injuries 


Severe – the spinal cord and nerve roots are damaged, which leads to serious consequences which aren’t usually found in back injuries – like severe pain and disability, incomplete paralysis and significantly impaired bladder, bowel, and sexual function.

£38,780 to £160,980

Moderate (Type 1) – cases where the symptoms are less severe than those above, but may include continuous pain, reduced mobility or the need for surgery

£27,760 to £38,780

Moderate (Type 2) - many frequently encountered back injuries e.g. damage to ligaments and muscles causing backache, soft tissue injuries resulting in the worsening of a pre-existing back condition, or prolapsed discs

£12,510 to £27,760

Minor – less serious strains, sprains, disc prolapses, soft tissue injuries, or fracture injuries which recover without surgery

£2,450 to £12,510

It’s a good idea to keep in mind that the figures shown in the table above are just a guideline. Everything depends on your particular case and the needs you have as a result of the accident, as well as the ways in which the accident changed your life. 

Special Damages 

Special Damages, meanwhile, cover the direct losses that arise from an injury, such as:

  • Loss of earnings
  • The cost of medical care
  • Travel expenses
  • Care costs
  • The cost of specialist aids and equipment

Naturally, we don’t have the medical professional’s prognosis until we obtain the report. Therefore, we may need to take investigations to calculate Special Damages, like getting payslips. For the above reasons, it’s not possible to accurately value a claim from the outset.

Will I have to go to court?

Only around 3% of personal injury claims, in the UK, reach trial according to figures from the Ministry of Justice (Apr – June 2023). In a trial, a judge will look into the facts around a case, and they’ll look at the evidence, all to decide the outcome of the case in Court.

The majority of personal injury cases are settled without anyone having to attend a trial. In fact, many are settled before Court proceedings even have to begin.   But sometimes the courts do have to be involved. The main reasons are:

  • The claim is coming up to limitation. This limitation, generally – although not always – is three years after the date of the accident. You need to either settle your claim or begin court proceedings before limitation expires. If you do not either settle your claim or start court proceedings before the end of the three-year anniversary of your accident, your claim will be statute barred and you would not be able to pursue a claim for compensation.
  • The defendant denies liability, and therefore it’s up to a Judge to decide whether the defendant is responsible for your accident and subsequent loss;
  • Even when liability isn’t in dispute, both parties cannot come to an agreement on the value of the claim. It will then be for the judge to decide how much the claim is worth.

If it’s necessary to begin Court proceedings, your Solicitor will get the court papers ready. These will include documents like a “Claim Form“, ”Schedule of Loss” and  “Particulars of Claim.” The latter sets out the circumstances in which the accident took place, and why we think the other party is liable.

The “Schedule of Loss”, on the other hand, lays out the losses which have been caused by the accident. These losses can be financial, psychological and physical. Also, any medical reports that have been prepared need to be attached to these documents, as well as any more evidence which backs up the financial losses caused by the accident.

Are there time limits for making a personal injury claim?

If your personal injury accident happens in the United Kingdom, you can make a claim up to 3 years after the date the accident took place. 

However, we always suggest that you start making your claim as quickly as possible, so that we can start working on your case immediately. This way, the evidence will be fresher, as will the memories of any witnesses we rely on

That being said, even if you’re further down the line – as long as you’re in this deadline – you’ll still be able to make a clam.

How long does it take to get compensation?

In a more straightforward, simple accident claim, where the other party admits liability, it may take around 4 to 9 months for you to receive your compensation. But with a more complex case, such as one where the other party denies liability for your accident, it can often take longer to resolve.

In many serious injury accident claims, once the other side has admitted liability and we've gathered evidence in support of your injuries and losses, we can apply for Interim Payments of compensation to be paid before the case has settled.

Every single claim is different, so it’s impossible to give one definitive answer to this question. However, when you’ve accepted a compensation settlement offer, the money will likely arrive in between 2 and 4 weeks. 

Even in cases where the injuries are minor, there are a number of stages in the personal injury claims process before a claim can be settled.

Your Personal Injury Solicitor will need to establish whether or not the defendant admits or denies liability (fault) for the accident which caused your injuries. Depending upon the anticipated value or complexity of your claim, the defendant may have up to 3 months to investigate the claim and provide a response on liability.

To correctly value a claim, it’s necessary to obtain a medical report from an independent medical expert and to investigate any financial losses such as lost earnings. This may involve obtaining more than one medical report, perhaps from a range of medical disciplines.

Whilst this means it can take longer for the claim to be settled, it puts us in a better position to push for a settlement that compensates you properly and genuinely meets your needs both now and in the future.

Once a claim is valued, your Personal Injury Solicitor will look to reach a negotiated settlement with the defendant. If a settlement cannot be agreed, perhaps because liability is denied or because damages cannot be agreed between the parties, we may need to issue Court proceedings and proceed to a Trial.

If we file a claim at Court, this could mean that your case is a bit delayed, because getting a first hearing at Court could take time. Generally, the Court will aim to hear any claim of up to £25,000 within 12 months of the issuing of the claim. However, it could take longer for a case to reach trial if the value is over £25,000. 

There are several different factors which could change how long Court proceedings take in your particular case. These include:

  • The severity of your injury or injuries – if you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury such as a trauma to your head or an amputation,  Court proceedings will most likely take longer if your injury or injuries are severe, compared to if you’ve sustained a ‘minor’ injury such as whiplash.
  • The complexity of your accident – if the circumstances surrounding your accident were more complicated, or there’s a lack of witness and CCTV evidence, the process of building your case could be made longer.
  • Disputes over your compensation – Court proceedings could take up more time if the other party continues to deny liability or refuses to pay out the amount of compensation that you’re entitled to.

How Simpson Millar Can Help 

Our team of Personal Injury Solicitors could be able to take on your case on a No Win, No Fee basis. We may also be able to visit you at home or in hospital (in England or Wales), as we completely understand how hard a personal injury may be on your life. 

When pursuing a claim on your behalf, we will investigate your case in detail. This makes sure that you are able to get the right amount of compensation you need to cover the costs you’re dealing with due to your injury. You will always know what is happening at every stage of your claim and we will always speak to you in plain English, avoiding unnecessary legal jargon. Contact our team by calling 0808 239 3227 and let us help you.


Can I Claim for a Loved One Who has since Died Following the Accident?

Yes, it’s still possible to make a claim on behalf of the Estate within 3 years of the date of death. The sooner you can instruct us the better.

Can I Get in Trouble with My Employer if I Make an Accident at Work Claim?

 It’s perfectly normal to be concerned about making a claim for a work accident against your employer. However, they shouldn’t be able to treat you differently or discriminate against you because you’re claiming compensation.

You can also be reassured that we don’t need to deal with your employer directly, and will instead deal with their insurance company as the claim progresses.


Health and Safety Executive. (2022). Health and Safety Statistics 2021/22. Retrieved from

Health and Safety Executive. (n.d.). Statistics. Retrieved from

Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). (n.d.). Your rights to compensation following injury. Retrieved from

Simpson Millar LLP. (n.d.). Personal Injury Solicitors. Retrieved from

Simpson Millar LLP. (n.d.). Serious Injury Claims. Retrieved from

Simpson Millar LLP. (n.d.). Serious Injury Claims. Retrieved from

Government of the United Kingdom. (2023). Civil Justice Statistics Quarterly: April to June 2023. Retrieved from

Amy Baker

Graduate Solicitor Apprentice

Amy is a Graduate Solicitor Apprentice within our Personal injury department, based in our Manchester office.

She helps clients who have sustained injuries resulting from accidents at work and accidents in public places to recover compensation for the injuries they have sustained.

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