How often do injury claims go to court and what if they do?

Many people are reluctant to make an injury claim as they are worried about going to court. What percentage of claims go to court and what happens when they do?

Court building

How likely is my personal injury claim to go to court?

Only a tiny percentage (approx. 5%)  of personal injury claims go to court, and when do they are heard held in front of a judge, not a jury.

Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

Quittance’s solicitor panel settles the vast majority of claims are settled out of court.

Why are most compensation claims settled out of court?

The adversarial nature of making a compensation claim leads many to assume that their case will be argued out in a courtroom.

Although making a personal injury claim is a litigious process, most claims avoid the courtroom  as a result of the following:

Solicitor vetting

Solicitors vet claims before taking them, on.  Solicitors follow a risk assessment process during which they will ensure that:

  • you were injured in the last three years (longer if children were involved) and;
  • another party was to blame and;
  • the defendant owed you a duty of care.

The solicitor will assess the likelihood of proving each of the above as well as various other factors.

Even if you do technically qualify, some solicitors still might not take on your claim.

Read more: I have a strong claim - why won't a solicitor take it on?

Nobody wants to go to court

The bottom line is that nobody involved in the claims process wants to go to court.  Going to court is a costly process, and the losing side will bear the cost.

Cost and uncertainty

In most cases, claims are fought (negotiated is a more accurate term) by the injured party’s solicitor and the defendant's insurance company.

So you have a solicitor who is specialised in fighting claims v’s the insurance company’s in house team (sometimes solicitors).

Both sides are trained to view a claim as a negotiation. They will endeavour to settle a claim in their client's respective interests and avoid the cost and uncertainty of a court hearing.

No win no fee

As most claims are now taken on on a no win, no fee basis, you will not incur any legal costs if you lose your case.

The legal fees would be covered by the ATE insurance policy that forms part of the no win no fee agreement.

Insurance companies are well aware of this and are therefore reluctant to 'try it on' by denying liability when the court would likely establish liability.

Read more about no win, no fee.

Why might a claim go to court?

Case complexity

Some cases are inherently more complicated, such as: 

Unresponsive defendant or insurer

If the defendant, or the defendant's insurer, is slow to respond or downright unresponsive, your solicitor can apply to the court.

In doing so, the defendant will be legally required to respond correctly and, if they have not already done so, appoint a solicitor.

Denial of liability

If the defendant ultimately denies liability, the case can go to court. Negotiation will continue right up to the trial date as all parties will still usually prefer to avoid a court hearing.

Interim payments

If you are unable to pay for urgent treatment or living expenses, before your claim is fully settled, the solicitor can apply to the court for an interim payment.

Read more about getting interim compensation payments.

What happens if my claim does go to court?

If your solicitor is unable to secure an adequate compensation settlement, then the next stage would be to commence court proceedings.

The process would begin with your solicitor filing the claim at the court.

The court will then consider the claim and respond with details of how it wants to proceed.  The court response will include the dates that any information will need to be supplied by and a trial date.

Pre-trial negotiation continues

Even when a court date has been set, most parties, including the court, would still prefer to avoid a formal court hearing.

It is still possible to settle out of court at this stage and right up to the court hearing itself.

In more complex or high-value cases, insurance companies may be testing to see whether the claimant is prepared to go to court. 

Will I have to attend the court in person?

More often than not, no.

If your claim has an estimated value of between £1,000 and £25,000 (known as 'fast-track'), then either your solicitor or an appointed barrister will represent you.

If the claim value exceeds £25,000 (known as ‘multitrack'), then you may be expected to attend to answer questions about what happened in the run-up to your injury.

You will be asked questions about your statement by both your representative and the representative of the other side.

The judge will then make a ruling and set the level of compensation if you win your case.

How much compensation will I receive?

Will there be a jury?

No.  Personal injury claims are heard in a civil courtroom, meaning there is no jury and no public gallery.

Although undeniably stressful for many claimants, the process is often described as far less stressful than expected.

How can Quittance help?

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

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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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