A Guide to Claiming Serious Injury Compensation

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a serious injury we can help.

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a serious injury and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.


The Courts recognise that serious injury can have a major, life-altering impact regardless of its cause or an individual's circumstances.

Under UK law, there is not a clear-cut definition of 'serious injury'. For the purposes of road traffic data, serious injuries are considered to be those that require the injured person to be treated in hospital as an 'in-patient'. According to Department of Transport data, over 21,000 people were seriously injured in road traffic accidents in 2013.

The Courts do not relay on a standard definition when making compensation awards, however. Awards and settlements are agreed based on the impact an injury has had on the life of the injured person and on their family.

Do I have a serious injury claim?

You should be eligible to make a serious injury claim if you were injured:

  • within the last three years and,
  • another person was to blame.

It may be that, for example, the accident happened more than 3 years ago, or that you were partly at fault. If so, you may still be able to make a claim.

To confirm whether you are eligible to claim speak to a serious injury claim expert on 0800 612 7456.

A brief phone consultation will confirm whether you have a claim. We will not put you under pressure to make a compensation claim.

You can also find out if you have a claim with our Online Claim Checker.

Check my claim

What if a child was injured?

The 3 year rule does not apply to minors.

A claim can be pursued for anyone under the age of 18 by a parent, guardian or litigation friend. The injured child has up to the age of 21 to start a serious injury claim on their own behalf.

Read more about claiming injury compensation on behalf of a child.

Who can make a compensation claim for a serious injury?

In order to claim for compensation, your injury must have occurred within the last three years, as the result of the actions or negligence of someone else.

For the purposes of a compensation claim, the party responsible for your injury is referred to as the defendant or the 'other side'.

Time limits for serious injury compensation claims

It may be possible to claim for an injury or illness that was caused before the three-year limit, provided that you only became aware of it in the last three years. This 'date of discovery' is often the date that you receive your diagnosis.

For more information, you can discuss your circumstances on a confidential basis with a specialist solicitor. Contact Quittance on 0800 612 7456 for a no-obligation consultation.

To make a successful claim, it will need to be proven that, on the balance of probabilities, those responsible for your injuries owed you a duty of care.

Can compensation be claimed for a serious injury if both sides are partly responsible?

In circumstances where both sides are partly responsible for the claimant's injury, it may still be possible to claim compensation.

In these circumstances, the claimant is unlikely to get the same amount of compensation that they would have received if they were entirely blameless.

Compensation is awarded in proportion to the apportionment of responsibility. For example, if a Court determines that the claimant was 25% responsible for an accident or their injuries, the compensation they are awarded will be 25% less that it would have been otherwise.

Cases like this are often resolved with what are called 'split-liability agreements'.

How could a compensation award help you?

The essential principle of compensation is that it should try to put injured parties back in the position they would have been in if the accident or illness never happened.

Financial compensation can only ever go so far in respect of truly compensating a person in this situation, and the Courts recognise that this is particularly true in the case of serious injuries.

It recognition of the fact that serious injuries have a life-altering impact, a personal injury award or settlement will include compensation for:

  • pain, suffering and loss of amenity arising from your injuries
  • lost earnings if you have had to take time off work
  • future loss of earnings if you are unable to return to work
  • the cost of medical treatment and future care relating to your injuries
  • expenses such as travel costs to and from hospital

Loss of amenity includes loss or reduction of a claimant's mental or physical capacity to do the things he or she used to do before the injury. This can take into account hobbies such as no longer being able to play a musical instrument, go sailing or rock-climbing.

The assessment of an award in such situations is based on an objective view of the value of the loss of these amenities to the claimant.

Solicitors advice for serious injury claims

Before starting a claim for compensation, an expert injury lawyer can discuss your potential claim with you and will explain your options.

Quittance's solicitors understand the need to allow you to focus on your treatment and, where possible, your recovery. They will take care of the legal process accordingly and will advice you on every stage of the process.

Quittance's solicitors have assisted claimants receive compensation for serious injuries including:

  • broken arms and legs
  • head injuries
  • scars and burns
  • spinal injury
  • industrial disease, including mesothelioma, dermatitis and noise-induced deafness

Compensation is usually settled before formal legal action commences and there is rarely the need to go to Court.

How much compensation can I claim for a serious injury?

The amount of money you could claim for your serious injury will depend on:

  • the extent of your injury, and
  • any financial losses or costs you have incurred.

At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your serious injury has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.

This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.

General damages

General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).

Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.

Special damages

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

What can I claim for after a serious injury? (see list)

Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

How is compensation calculated if I have multiple serious injury injuries?

If you have sustained multiple injuries, the compensation amounts are not simply added together.

The upper bracket of the most serious injury may be considered as a starting point, with a reduced amount applied for the other less severe injuries.

For example:

General damages for a life-altering back injury can be £65,000

For a less severe arm injury, in isolation, you would typically receive £4,000.

However, if you have a life-altering back injury and a less severe arm injury, you would typically receive £65,000 + a reduced percentage of £4,000.

Special damages, such as loss of earnings are not usually increased if you have multiple injuries.

What is the average injury compensation for a serious injury claim?

The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.

However, the money you would receive following a serious injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your serious injury compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.

See the injury table above for some examples.

Find out what your serious injury claim could be worth now

Assessing a claim's value at the outset can be complicated, particularly if you have multiple injuries.

If you would like a FREE claim estimate with no obligation to start a claim, call 0800 612 7456.

Alternatively, our compensation calculator will give you an instant estimate of what your claim is worth.

I can't find my injury in the table, can I still claim?

The table is a list of the most common injuries associated with a serious injury claim. You can see the full list of injury awards here: Judicial College Injury Tables.

Calculate my claim

How long do I have to make a serious injury claim?

In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the serious injury to make an injury claim.

The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your serious injury claim becomes 'statute barred'.

Can I claim for a serious injury after 3 years?

For adults, the general rule is no, you cannot start a claim more than three years after a serious injury.

However, if you were injured as a child, you do have up until your 21st birthday to make a claim.

In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether a serious injury claim will be taken on by a solicitor.

Will I still be able to claim for a serious injury after the law changes in April 2020?

The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.

You will no longer be able to claim no win, no fee compensation using a solicitor for lower value claims (under £5,000).

In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your serious injury claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:

  • Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
  • Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
  • Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
  • Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.

How long does a personal injury compensation claim take to complete?

Once the facts are established, many claims for minor injuries are straightforward and financial compensation is awarded in a matter of months.

Claims where the facts are less clear, or where the injury is more serious, can take more time to resolve.

In such cases, interim payments are often negotiated. These payments assist with the claimant's living costs and treatment and help to ensure that the claimant isn't pressured into accepting a lower settlement offer by the need to cover outgoings such as mortgage payments.

Given the factors involved, it is difficult to predict how long will be needed to negotiate a settlement. Your solicitor may advise you not to accept an insurance company's first offer, with a view to gathering more evidence to negotiate for a more appropriate figure.

What is the chance of a claim being successful?

The claim has a good chance of success if the other side has acknowledged that they are responsible for your injuries.

Where the other side has not admitted liability, or argues that you were partly to blame for your injuries, there may be a lower chance of success.

Regardless of whether liability is accepted, you should do what you can to strengthen your case. Your solicitor will advise on a recommended course of action, including advising that you could:

  • report the accident as appropriate (e.g. to your employer if you are injured at work)
  • make a record of the accident or cause of your injuries in as much detail as you can
  • take names and addresses or contact details of any witnesses
  • if applicable, take photographs of the scene of the accident

It is worth considering the above and doing everything you can to build a stronger case.

How did your injury occur?

The claims process that your solicitor follows will vary, depending on how the injury occurred:

At work

If you are thinking of making a work accident or injury claim, there are some key points to be aware of:

Work Accident Claims - What you need to know

In a road accident

If you are thinking of making a road accident claim, there are some key points to be aware of:

Road Accident Claims - What you need to know

In a public place (e.g. supermarket, pavement)

If you have been injured in a public place, there are some key points you need to be aware of:

Public Place Claims - What you need to know

Medical negligence

According to the latest figures published in 2019, there were over 17,000 clinical negligence claims in the year 2016-17. This increase is largely down to an overstretched NHS.

If you are thinking of making a medical negligence claim, there are some key points to be aware of:

Clinical Negligence Claims - What you need to know

Other claim types

Find details on another type of claim:

See list of other claims

No win, no fee, no risk

No win, no fee takes the risk out of making a serious injury claim. If your claim is unsuccessful, you won't have to pay your solicitor any legal fees.

Our no win, no fee guarantee

Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is no financial risk in making a serious injury claim - even if you don't win your claim.

What do I pay if I win my serious injury claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, once your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my serious injury claim?

If your serious injury claim is not successful then you won't have to pay your solicitor any fees.

Read more about No win, no fee

Please note, under a No Win, No Fee Agreement (CFA), fees may apply if a claimant refuses to cooperate, or abandons their claim after the legal work has started, or if the claim is fraudulent.

How can Quittance help?

Our highly experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims. Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:

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Serious Injury FAQ's

Can I claim for someone else?

Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.

If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.

The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

Can I claim if I was partly responsible for an accident?

You may still be able to claim compensation even if you contributed to your accident or to your injuries.

However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.

Read more about claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

How long will my claim take?

The length of time needed to secure compensation can vary considerably.

For example, straightforward car accident claims can settle in a matter of weeks, whereas complex medical negligence cases can take years.

Injury claims can also take longer if it is not clear who is responsible for your injury, or if liability is denied by the defendant.

Taken from average case times, this table sets out approximately how long personal injury claims take to settle:

Personal injury claim type

Estimated claim duration*

Road accident claims

4 to 9 months

Work accident claims

6 to 9 months

Medical negligence claims

12 to 36 months

Industrial disease claims

12 to 18 months

Public place or occupiers’ liability claims

6 to 9 months

MIB claims (uninsured drivers)

3 to 4 months**

CICA claims (criminal assault)

12 to 18 months**

*RTA and other claims processed through the Ministry of Justice portal can settle faster.
**Official Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) Government agency and Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) figures.

Read more about how long personal injury claims take.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by Quittance’s solicitor panel are settled out of court.

Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?

No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.

Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

Can I get an early compensation payment?

If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

About the author

Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert