If you are considering making a claim for a personal injury, there are several things to consider before you make a decision either way. Here are those things:
‘No win, no fee’ agreements
Personal injury claims are usually processed on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. Under such an agreement, you will not have to pay any legal fees upfront nor during the claims process, or if your claim is unsuccessful. However, you may still be billed by other side if your claim loses, because the other side will want to recover their costs. To alleviate this risk, a product called ‘after the event’ insurance may be built into your Agreement.
In addition to this, your lawyer may take a percentage of your compensation as payment, because it is not always possible to recover costs from the other side. By law, this percentage cannot be more than 25 per cent of the total compensation awarded. So if you are awarded £2,500.00, your lawyer can take no more than £625.00 as payment.
Liability and proof of liability
To have a claim at all, you must have a level of diminished liability. And crucially, your level of liability has to be provable. Often, this is easy, because most people are honest and hold their hands up when they are in the wrong. Sometimes, however, the other side may contest liability which may set your claim back. If this happens, your solicitor will have to substantiate your claim or you may have to settle on a ‘split liability agreement’. Under such an agreement, both sides admit to a portion of the blame. For you, the claimant, this means that you may receive a reduced percentage of your original settlement demand.
The Limitation Act 1980
This is a very important point. Under the Limitation Act 1980, you only have three years from either the date your accident happened or from the date your injuries were diagnosed to bring a claim forward, after which your claim will become time-barred or statute barred.
This limitation period applies to all personal injury claims. However, if you were a minor at the time of your accident (under 18 years’ of age), then you have three years from the date of your 18th birthday to bring your claim forward.
In addition to this, it may be possible to bring a claim forward after three years but only under exceptional circumstances. A court will review the case and, based on its merits, make a decision regarding whether or not it can be brought forward, so that the claimant can start application. If it is agreed that the case should be allowed to proceed, then the claimant has three years from this decision to make their claim.