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

People are sometimes 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?

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

Approximately 5% of personal injury claims go to court.

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.

The adversarial nature of making a compensation claim can lead potential claimants to assume their case will be fought in a courtroom. In fact, injury claims are heard in front of a judge, rather than a jury.

Why are most compensation claims settled out of court?

Before taking on a claim, solicitors follow a risk assessment process known as 'vetting'. The vetting process will assess the likelihood of establishing that:

Note: 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?

No one wants to go to court

No one involved in the claims process wants to go to court. Going to court is an expensive and time-consuming process. The losing side will end up bearing the cost.

Cost and uncertainty

Most claims are a negotiation between the injured party’s (the claimant) solicitor and the defendant's insurance company.

Injury solicitors will endeavor to settle a claim in their client's best interests. The insurance company’s in-house team (sometimes solicitors) will want to settle for the lowest figure.

Both sides are trained to view claims as a process of negotiation and they will want to avoid the cost and uncertainty of a court hearing.

No win no fee

As most claims are now taken on a no win, no fee basis, as a claimant 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 that claimants will not have to pay any legal fees if their claim is unsuccessful. Insurance companies are therefore reluctant to 'try it on' by denying liability if a court would be likely to find the defendant liable.

Read more:

How does no win, no fee work?

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 their insurer is slow to respond or completely 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 to represent them.

Denial of liability

If the defendant denies liability, the solicitor may start court proceedings. However, negotiations will still continue right up to the trial date as all parties will usually still 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, your solicitor can apply to the court for an interim payment.

Read more:

Can I get an interim compensation payment?

What happens if my claim does go to court?

If your solicitor is unable to negotiate an acceptable settlement, the next step would be to file a claim with the court.

The court will consider your claim and respond with details of how it wants to proceed. The court's response will include information submission deadlines 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 possible to settle out of court right up to the last minute before the hearing.

In more complex or high-value cases, insurance companies may initially deny liability, even though they know the defendant is may be liable. This is a common strategy used to test whether the claimant is actually prepared to go to court.

Will I have to attend the court in person?

Not usually.

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.

Read more:

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, personal injury court hearings are often described as far less stressful than expected.

How can Quittance help?

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.

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 376 1001 or arrange a callback:

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Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

Author:
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor