PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS: Did you get injured after an accident when someone else was to blame? Taking legal action is one of the ways to get compensation.
You might choose to make a claim through the courts system. But, there are several downsides to this judicial procedure.
As a rule, taking legal action in court against a person or an organisation can be an expensive process.
There would be no guarantee that you will win your case. But, there are other ways to claim compensation after an accident or injury.
You could try the direct method of writing a letter or complaining to those who are to blame. In some cases, the use of a mediation service may also be a valid option or a last resort before going to court.
Writing a Letter or Making a Complaint
Often, writing a letter to try solve the issue may be most appropriate – especially for less serious injuries. You can also try making an official complaint. Consider using the company complaints procedure (if they have one).
Be very clear and concise if you write a letter or complain. Give a good explanation of what went wrong. Let them know how much compensation you want for the accident or injury. Or, there could be other ways of compensating you for your suffering.
Using Mediation Services
Sometimes, the best way of negotiating a financial settlement is through a mediation service. One disadvantage is that most mediation services will charge you a nominal fee. Even so, it can still be a cheaper process in the long run. Likewise, it can be much quicker and less stressful than going to court.
Note: The new Civil Mediation online directory replaced the National Mediation Helpline in England and Wales.
Check any Existing Insurance Policies
You may not realise it but an existing insurance policy might cover ‘legal expenses insurance’. As a rule, it means they would pay for some of the legal costs.
- Read through the terms of your insurance policies (e.g. car insurance, home contents, or holiday coverage).
- Check to see if your membership of an organisation provides you with legal cover (e.g. a trade union, the AA, or the RAC).
Note: Some insurance policies only cover certain types of legal problem. Always read the terms and conditions.
ATE Insurance (after the event)
It can be very difficult to claim compensation for an accident if you are not insured. Taking out ‘after the event’ insurance cover after the incident happened may protect you from a large legal bill.
You would buy ATE Insurance before incurring any substantial legal costs or disbursements. As a rule, the policies would begin when a solicitor starts to negotiate a claim.
It can be confusing to choose the best ‘after-the-event’ insurance policy. But, you can get help from a solicitor and some will take out the policy on your behalf. Winning the case means you might get some of the legal costs back (claimed from the losing side).
Note: Most ATE Insurance companies will only insure you if they think you will win the case. Always get a quote beforehand as some policies are very expensive.
Hiring the Services of a Solicitor
It would be very uncommon to qualify for legal aid in a personal injury claim. That means you may need to use a solicitor instead. You should always agree on an outline of costs before hiring a solicitor.
Note: You can get more information on taking legal action and the cost of doing so from Citizens Advice.
Using a Claims Company
Claims companies are types of businesses that can help you to find a solicitor. But, very few claims handlers can perform the same roles as solicitors. That means they would be unable to represent you in a court claim.
Note: You can search the Authorised Business Register to check if a company has registration with the Claims Management Regulator.
No Win, No Fee Agreement
You might get a ‘no win, no fee’ deal to try claim compensation for accident or personal injury. Having this type of agreement means you only pay the solicitor fees if you win the case. But, there may be other costs to consider, such as:
- Court fees.
- Payments for any experts used in the case.
- Travelling expenses.
If you win the case the solicitor may charge you a fee for doing so. But, if you lose the case, there could be extra costs involved, including:
- Supplementary expenses and other charges (e.g. fees for any witnesses used in the case).
- The legal costs for the other party involved in the case.