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Personal injury claims

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    Claiming compensation

    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.

    Personal injury - dos and don'ts

    What your solicitor needs from you

    To establish the details of your case, a solicitor will need to know:

    • the date of the accident, where and how it happened
    • the contact details for any witnesses
    • the details of your injuries, medical diagnosis and treatment received
    • whether you are a member of a trade union or you have legal expenses insurance policies, as this may entitle you to free or reduced-cost legal representation.

    The solicitor may also need to see:

    • proof of your loss of earnings and other financial expenses that are due to your injury
    • documents relating to any insurance policies you have (such as household or motor insurance) to check whether these will cover the legal costs of your claim
    • any evidence that can be used to support your claim, including documents from before your accident or previous accidents in similar circumstances.
    personal injury

    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 >

    How your solicitor can help

    Once you have explained the circumstances of your injury in detail, your solicitor will be able to judge:

    • how likely your case is to succeed
    • an estimate of what you might be able to claim in compensation.

    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:

    • that the solicitor is happy to take your case on
    • the name and status of the solicitor or other person in the firm who will be your main day-to-day contact
    • how long the process is likely to take and arrangements for progress reports
    • how you are funding the case, an estimate of your costs and any agreed spending limits
    • when you might have to pay the solicitor's costs and when you might have to pay the defendant's costs (see Cost)
    • any additional information you need to provide and what you should do if you are not happy about the way your case is progressing.

    Going to court for your personal injury claim

    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 specified 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.

    Questions you should ask about 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.

    • How much is a case like this likely to cost, and how are the costs worked out?
    • Can there be a 'no-win, no-fee' arrangement, or will the solicitor charge you by the hour?
    • How will the fees be paid if you lose?
    • Will you need insurance cover to protect you against the possibility of paying the defendant's costs?
    • What other options are there for funding your case?

    How do I find a solicitor to help me make a personal injury claim?

    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:

    Alternative formats

    We can make this information available in other formats and selected languages on request. Please email 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.