Making a no win, no fee personal injury claim
Starting a personal injury claim can be overwhelming. With a no win, no fee agreement, you can make a compensation claim with no financial risk, no upfront legal fees, and nothing to pay - at all - if your claim is unsuccessful. You only pay legal fees if you win your claim, so you can pursue the compensation you need without financial worry.
In this article
What is no win, no fee?
If you've been injured in an accident that wasn't your fault, you can pursue a compensation claim under a no win, no fee agreement.
With a no win, no fee agreement you can claim with:
- no financial risk
- no upfront legal fees
- no legal fees to pay if your claim is not successful
- a success fee payable to a solicitor only if you win your claim
How does a no win, no fee agreement work?
A no win no fee agreement, technically referred to as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), is a contract between you (the claimant) and your solicitor. Under this agreement, the solicitor agrees to take on your case without charging any upfront legal fees.
If your claim is unsuccessful
If you don't win your claim, your solicitor will not charge you any legal fees and there will be nothing to pay, at all, to anyone else.
If your claim is successful
If you win your claim, your solicitor will receive a percentage of your compensation award as a 'success fee'. Success fees are typically up to and capped at 25% of your compensation settlement. You will be able to discuss the success with your solicitor before you sign anything.
The defendant will normally have to pay your legal fees and other expenses, but any shortfall may also be deducted from the compensation settlement.
A key part of any no win, no fee claim is an insurance policy taken out at the start of the claim called After the Event (ATE) insurance. This policy is the critical part of any no win, no fee claim, that enables the process to be financially risk free.
Any costs incurred, including the defendant's solicitor's fees, may be paid out of this insurance policy taken out at the start of the claim. You only have to pay for the policy if you win your claim, and the cost is deducted from your compensation award.
So I will lose 25% of my compensation if I win?
The 25% success fee is deducted from the compensation award or settlement. However, if you make a claim on a no win no fee basis, your compensation total is increased by 10% to offset the impact of the success fee deduction. The 10% increase was introduced by the courts after changes to the law in 2013.
Why do most injury solicitors charge 25% success fees?
The Ministry of Justice imposes a maximum success fee cap of 25%.
Before 2013, success fees were paid by the defendant, along with the claimant's other legal costs. This meant that claimants kept all of their compensation.
It was not until the legislation was introduced in 2013 that the liability to pay success fees moved from the defendant to the claimant. In most cases, other legal costs would still be paid by the defendant.
Many solicitors struggle to make a profitable business out of personal injury. To be successful, a firm must have a high case success rate and a very efficient business overall. 25% success fees are charged by most law firms in order to make a viable business.
However, general damages compensation awards are increased by 10% for no win, no fee claimants. This 10% uplift was introduced at the recommendation of Lord Justice Jackson in order to offset the impact of the success fee deduction.
Can I negotiate a lower success fee with my solicitor?
In an ideal world, there would be no financial deductions from a claimant's compensation settlement. Typically claimants pay up to 25% of their compensation, but you will be able to discuss the success fee with your solicitor before you sign anything, at the start of your claim .
When is the success fee deducted?
The solicitors’ success fee will be deducted from your total compensation award, only after the final amount has been agreed and paid by the defendant. You will never have to pay any upfront fees and you will never be 'out of pocket'.
Are there any other ways to fund an injury claim?
No win, no fee is by far the most common way to fund a personal injury claim. Depending on your circumstances, however, you may have other options including:
Before the Event insurance (BTE)
Before the Event insurance (BTE), which is also referred to as Legal Expense Insurance, refers to any policy that may already be in place when an injury occurs. A typical example would be legal cover which may be purchased with a motor or home insurance policy.
Legal aid has not been available for personal injury claims since the law changed in 2000. Legal aid was previously available for such claims, but changes to the funding system have excluded personal injury cases. Legal Aid gave way to Conditional Fee Agreements (CFA), to ensure that claimants could still access legal representation without upfront costs.
Financing your case with personal funds is an option, although we usually recommend funding your claim with a no win, no fee agreement. Every claim carries inherent risks, and a successful outcome doesn't always ensure your full reimbursement of your solicitor's legal fees and costs from the defendant. It is also worth mentioning that compensation awards for claims financed by a no win, no fee agreement are subject to a 10% uplift.
If you are still interested in privately funding your claim, we can discuss rates and projected costs once your claim has been evaluated.
If you are a member of a union, you might have access to legal support for your claim. Some trade unions offer legal assistance as a membership benefit. This assistance can cover a range of issues, including personal injury claims. Speak to your union representative to find out if you are covered and to understand the extent of the legal support on offer.
Am I eligible to make a no win, no fee claim?
To win a no win, no fee injury claim, usually three things need to be true:
- Your injury happened within the last 3 years (longer if a child was injured)
- Someone else caused it
- That person had a responsibility to keep you safe
In some circumstances, there may be other conditions that need to be met to qualify for no win, no fee.
Will the circumstances of my injury affect my eligibility to make a no win, no fee claim?
While the key principles outlined above help determine if you can make a claim, other factors based on your injury circumstances may also influence your eligibility to claim:
Our no win, no fee promise
When making a claim through Quittance, we guarantee 100% legal fee transparency. You will able to discuss and agree the details of your no win, no fee agreement with your solicitor, before starting your claim. You will have no legal fees to pay if your claim is unsuccessful.
How do I start a no win, no fee clam?
The first step is to speak to a legal advisor on 0800 376 1001 who will usually be able to tell you in minutes if you have a claim. If you prefer, you can arrange a call back at a time that suits you.
The advisor will listen to what happened, answer your question and tell you if they think you have a claim.
If you decide to start a claim, you will be passed to a solicitor with the most suitable expertise to handle your case.
Your solicitor will then contact the defendant or their insurance company and start the negotiation on your behalf, with a view to getting you the maximum compensation award for your injury.
No win, no fee FAQs
Will I keep 100% of my compensation?
The majority of firms that offer no win, no fee do so on the basis that 100% of your legal fees are covered in the event that you lose. This means there will be nothing to pay under those circumstances.
A small number of firms market a 'keep 100% of your compensation' offer, stating that they do not charge the standard 25% success fee.
It is worth checking the small print for these offers, as there are often other fees (called disbursements) that are still deducted from the compensation. There could also be 'catches' that could mean additional fees are still due if certain conditions are not met.
It may also be the case that these firms will only take higher-value cases that are very likely to succeed.
Who actually pays my no win, no fee compensation?
If you win, the defendant is technically liable to pay your compensation. In practice, it is usually the defendant's insurance company who pays. For this reason, employees do not need to worry about 'damaging their employer's business'.
An employer is required by law to hold employers' liability insurance to cover the cost of any injury claims made against the company, either by staff or by members of the public.
The Jackson reforms and Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) brought major changes to no win, no fee claims.
The personal injury claims process in England and Wales changed in 2013.
Prior to 2013, Lord Justice Jackson reviewed civil litigation costs and access to justice. Lord Jackson's report made a number of recommendations, including changes to Conditional Fe Agreements (CFAs).
The reforms also suggested that a claimant would no longer be liable to pay the defendant's legal costs if the claim is not successful. This is referred to as 'Qualified One Way Shifting', or 'QOCS'.
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, often referred to as 'LASPO' was enacted in April 2013, and meant that solicitors acting for injured claimants could no longer recover all of their legal costs from the defendant if they won. Specifically, success fees were no longer recoverable.
To offset the fact that success fees were now deducted from the claimant's compensation, LASPO also allowed for compensation for general damages to be increased by 10%.
How we can help you with your injury claim
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.
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If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee injury claim, we are open:
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Call us for FREE advice on 0800 376 1001, or arrange a call back from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:
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Chris Salmon, Director
About the author
Chris Salmon is a co-founder and Director of Quittance Legal Services. Chris has played key roles in the shaping and scaling of a number of legal services brands and is a regular commentator in the legal press.