Personal Injury Claims under the law of England and Wales An introduction

Bringing a claim for compensation for Personal Injury (PI) under the law of England and Wales, has never been easier.  Businesses are out there marketing on the internet, offering free-phone numbers, running claims shops, doing deals with brokers and insurance companies to access Claimants.

Finding someone who’ll sign you up to make a claim is a matter of minutes.

However, there are fundamentals, and there can be complications.

You’re signed up.  You expect you’ll be done in a few months, a little extra cash in your pocket.  But your case may have hardly started.  What seemed easy on day one, may become harder, and more time consuming, and more technical, without an end in sight.  You may be confused, cross, disappointed.  And, in the end, you might lose.

Better to start with some idea of the basics and the fundamentals.

What is the point of making a PI claim?

Of course, you want Justice.  That’s to be expected.  And quite right.  We all want Justice. But Justice in the Civil Justice system doesn’t mean a pat on the back, or a gold star for truthfulness.   Justice in a PI claim means financial compensation.  Damages, as the lawyers call it.  Money. 

The Civil Justice system

The Civil Justice system is not the Criminal Justice system.

Criminal Justice is about guilt or innocence.  Sometimes cases are dealt with in both the Civil Courts and the Criminal Courts.  But mostly Civil Justice is separate, and mostly on paper.

Civil cases are brought in the Civil Courts.  Our local Courts are Luton County Court, and Bedford County Court.

In the Criminal Justice system, a person – the Defendant – is on trial.  The prosecution have to prove the Defendant is guilty of a crime.  It is not about fault.  It is about guilt and punishment. 

In a PI case in the Civil Justice system, a Claimant seeks financial compensation for injuries and losses resulting from another party’s fault.  If the Claimant proves the fault, Damages will be awarded.

In PI, it’s about fault and compensation.  You do not get guilt or innocence in the Civil Justice system.

Fundamentals of a PI claim

To make a claim you must prove:

  • Fault – legal
    liability for the wrongful act of the other party.
  • Injury – physical
    injury (and/or mental injury).
  • Causation – that your
    injury was caused by the fault of the other party.

Two further fundamentals are:

  • You must claim in
    time (within 3 years of the fault).
  • The at-fault party
    must have the means to pay.

PI claims have been downgraded in the public consciousness over the last two decades.   But still those who have suffered disruptive and significant injury need more than an internet-based letterbox or a call-centre operative to recover compensation. 

One further fundamental if you have a genuine PI claim, you need a lawyer whose seen off insurance company tactics and who is prepared to use the Civil Justice system to fight for you. 

John Holtom – Consultant Solicitor, qualified 1993.

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