Most people have heard of personal injury law and have a vague understanding of what it involves. Unless somebody has personal experience with a personal injury claim, though, their knowledge is often based on what they have seen in the media and third-party accounts of the claims process. As a result, misinformation abounds, which leads to misconceptions that can sadly dissuade those with genuine personal injury claims from pursuing them.
Here, we debunk 5 common misconceptions about making a personal injury claim. We hope that, by doing so, we will encourage more people who have suffered injury as a result of an accident which wasn’t their fault, to claim the compensation they are entitled to.
Misconception 1 – you will have to go to Court
Most people are understandably deterred from pursuing a personal injury claim by the prospect of having to attend a Court hearing. It will, therefore, hopefully reassure you to learn that only a small percentage of personal injury claims reach trial.
Many personal injury matters settle before a claim is even issued. In fact, while millions of us suffer a personal injury each year, Ministry of Justice figures show that of the County Court claims issued in the three months from April to June 2022, a mere 6% were for personal injury. This is partly thanks to the strict protocol which governs personal injury claims, under which the parties must disclose all relevant facts and information at the outset. They can therefore assess the merit of each other’s position at an early stage and enter into settlement discussions accordingly. Those settlement discussions continue even after a claim has been issued and throughout the process. The parties can settle the claim at any stage before the conclusion of the trial.
Further, it might surprise you to hear that nobody – not even the most bullish of insurers or their legal advisors – wants to get embroiled in litigation if they can avoid it. If an insurer believes your claim has merit, it is in their interests to settle it before trial. No insurance company wants to incur the time and cost of a Court hearing they are likely to lose. Sometimes, if your claim is sizeable, they may deny liability or make low settlement offers early on but will usually enter into meaningful settlement talks and make more sensible offers as the trial date approaches.
If your case does reach trial, the reality will be very different to that portrayed in the media. Personal injury claims are heard by a Judge, not a Jury, who will have vast experience in personal injury matters and ensure that everyone receives a fair hearing.
Misconception 2 – you can’t claim if you were partly responsible for the accident
It is a common misconception that you can’t bring a claim for personal injury if you contributed in some way to the accident which caused your injuries. However, it follows that if you were to blame for some of the events which led to your accident, a third party must be to blame for others, and so should be held accountable. Whilst the amount of compensation you can expect to recover in such cases is lower than if the blame lay entirely elsewhere, you may nevertheless be entitled to damages based on the percentage for which the third party was at fault.
Misconception 3 – you can only claim compensation for physical injuries
The phrase ‘personal injury’ often conjures up images of physical injuries resulting from road traffic accidents, slips, trips and falls and accidents at work. Whilst these types of injuries account for the majority of personal injury claims, the remit of personal injury law is vast and provides redress for a wide range of injuries, including psychological harm.
For some, a serious accident can lead to psychological as well as physical injury, and those psychological injuries can have a significant impact on a victim’s day-to-day life. Sometimes, an accident which leaves only minor physical scars can cause profound psychological suffering.
Conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and stress can render the sufferer unable to return to work, cause issues with personal relationships and leave them unable to carry out tasks they previously took for granted. Somebody involved in a road traffic accident, for example, may suffer stress, anxiety and panic attacks at the thought of getting back on the road and may, therefore, be unable to travel for some time following the incident.
The law recognises that those who suffer psychological harm as a result of an accident which wasn’t their fault should be entitled to compensation in the same way as they would be for physical injuries. You can claim for psychological injuries alongside your physical ones, or in their own right.
Misconception 4 – it costs a lot of money to bring a personal injury claim
The thought of mounting solicitors’ bills and Court costs can be enough to discourage those with even the strongest of personal injury cases from making a claim. Luckily, many genuine, winnable personal injury claims can be financed through the use of a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement.
No win no fee agreements enable individuals unable to pay legal fees upfront to pursue their claim with the peace of mind that if they don’t win, they will not have to pay a penny to their legal team. Some people are suspicious of the apparent simplicity of no win, no fee arrangements and worry that they are somehow designed to catch them out. In reality, personal injury no win no fee agreements are designed to ensure that everyone who has sustained an injury as a result of someone else’s negligence has access to justice, regardless of their financial circumstances.
At Mooneerams, we are proud to act for most of our clients on a no win, no fee basis, with great success. Our Guide to no win, no fee agreements explains the nature of the arrangements in more detail and addresses some frequently asked questions about no win, no fee agreements.
Misconception 5 – by bringing a personal injury claim, you will become part of the ‘compensation culture’
The widely held notion that the UK has become a ‘compensation culture’ is as disappointing as it is untrue. Fuelled by insurance companies and politicians and perpetuated by the media, the belief that the system is rife with unscrupulous individuals making fraudulent claims is quite simply a myth. The truth is that many people who suffer an injury as a result of a third party’s negligence sadly do not claim the compensation to which they are entitled.
In the UK, a personal injury claim will only succeed if a Claimant can prove that a third party’s negligence caused their accident. If there is no negligence, there is no claim. Any damages awarded are intended to compensate the victim for the actual losses they have sustained as a result of their injuries. They are carefully calculated and do not represent some ‘windfall’, but rather seek to put a victim back in the position they would be in had the accident not happened.
It is, of course, impossible to fully compensate an individual for the pain and suffering an injury can cause through financial means, but their damages can go some way towards alleviating the harm caused by the accident. Compensation allows victims to take the time they need to heal, without the additional worry of lost earnings and ongoing medical expenses.
If you’ve suffered personal injury in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you would like to discuss the possibility of bringing a personal injury claim against the party you believe was responsible, contact Mooneerams Solicitors on 029 2048 3615.
It costs nothing to speak with one of our personal injury lawyers to get an assessment of your potential injury claim and find out the likely chances of it succeeding if you take the matter further. Get in touch by calling 029 2048 3615 or contact us online.