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Over three million people are injured in accidents each year - at home, in their cars, at work, or outdoors. In many cases, someone else is at fault and the accident victims have a right to compensation.
Although personal injury law is complicated, with the help of a personal injury solicitor the process of making a claim can be quite straightforward. Many solicitors offer a free initial consultation and will be able to tell you if you have a justifiable claim. A solicitor will also be on your side in dealings with insurance companies to ensure that your individual circumstances are fully considered.
To establish the details of your case, a solicitor will need to know:
The solicitor may also need to see:
The Law Society awards individuals who meet the highest standards of expertise and client service in personal injury law with its quality mark. Look out for it on Find a Solicitor search results.
Find out about personal injury accreditation >
Once you have explained the circumstances of your injury in detail, your solicitor will be able to judge:
They will also explain to you the legal processes involved in taking your claim further and how you will fund your case. You should ask your solicitor to send you a letter summarising the advice they have given you. This letter should confirm:
If you cannot settle for a fair amount out-of-court, your solicitor will advise you on whether you should start legal action.
If you decide to take the matter to court, your case will be passed to a judge. The court will let you know the date of your hearing, and your solicitor will tell you about any preparations you need to make.
The thought of going to court may be daunting, but it is important to remember that by this stage your solicitor will have prepared your case in detail and will have explained to you exactly what to expect. However, you can expect this to include the need to give evidence and then be cross-examined at trial. Then it's just a question of waiting to hear the judgment and finding out if you have won and have been awarded what you were claiming.
Charges can vary between solicitors according to the complexity of your case, the method of funding and the experience of the solicitor. You may decide to compare the charges of a few different firms before you choose which one to use.
Your solicitor may ask you to pay their expenses to support your case as it progresses (for example, the cost of medical evidence). These expenses are known as 'disbursements'.
There is no longer any legal aid for personal injury cases in England and Wales. But if your case is successful, the defendant should pay most of your basic legal costs. However, if your solicitor acts for you under a 'no-win, no-fee' agreement you will be liable to pay the solicitor's 'success fee' (capped at 25 per cent of the total damages) as this is not recoverable from the other side (the defendant). You may also be liable for unrecoverable disbursements or a shortfall in recovered costs.
The question is: what if you lose?
Most personal injury claims are now covered by Qualified One-Way Cost Shifting (QOCS). This means that even if you lose you will not have to pay the other side's costs. However, there are some circumstances where QOCS can be disapplied.
There are several options available to make sure that you can cover your costs if this happens. Your solicitor will explain all the options to you and advise whether you may have to pay any of the other side's or your own solicitor's costs.
Your solicitor will help you to understand the costs of your case and how you can cover them. Here are the basic questions that you should ask at your first meeting.
To find a local solicitor who can help you with the process of making a claim, visit the Law Society's Find a Solicitor website and use the quick search option "Accident and Injury" to find your nearest solicitor.
Choosing a law firm that has solicitors who are members of the Law Society's Personal Injury accreditation scheme, shown by our quality mark, means that your solicitor will meet our high standards for personal injury services. You will also be using a specialist legal professional who is regulated and insured.
An information leaflet on personal injury is available in the following formats:
We can make this information available in other formats and selected languages on request. Please email email@example.com for more information.
While we have made every effort to provide accurate information, the law is always changing and affects each person differently. This information is no substitute for specific advice about you personally and we will not be liable to you if you rely on this information.