The personal injury claims process might seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Read this helpful guide to learn about all the stages of the personal injury claim.
If you’re thinking about making a personal injury claim, you may want to know more about the process before you begin. Our legal experts have explained how personal injury claims work stage-by-stage so you know what to expect during your claim.
When you’re ready, contact us online or call 0800 056 4110 to speak to an adviser and get the ball rolling.
The personal injury claims process
After you’ve been in touch and we’ve agreed to take on your personal injury claim, these are the stages that our solicitors will follow. If you have relatively minor injuries, we may be able to skip stages four and five.
We’ll ask you to help with some stages and we’ll do others ourselves after you’ve given us the go-ahead. You’ll get regular updates about your claim and you’ll have the final decision about how we move forward at key stages.
1. Work out who was responsible
The first stage of a personal injury claim is to work out who’s responsible for your injuries or illness. That’s who we’ll make your claim against. This isn’t always clear and we may end up claiming against someone unexpected.
For example, we won’t necessarily claim against your employer if you’re injured in an accident at work. If some faulty equipment caused your injury, we may claim against the equipment manufacturer instead.
Those responsible for your accident could be:
In many cases, we won’t claim against the person or company that’s directly responsible for the accident, but their insurers. It sometimes takes some extra investigation to find out who these insurers are.
For mesothelioma cases, we can sometimes claim against an insurer even if the company responsible for your mesothelioma has stopped trading.
We can often help you claim even if we can’t work out exactly who’s responsible. For example, you may be able to claim against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau if you’re injured by an unknown hit-and-run driver.
We’ll ask for your help with this stage by giving us as much information about the accident as possible. This brings us to stage two.
2. Gather evidence
To start with, you can help us with this by telling us everything you can remember about the accident:
- When and where it happened
- Who else was there and saw what happened – names and contact details are particularly helpful
- What you were doing before the accident
- How it happened
- Who you think is responsible
- What happened afterwards – did you get first aid or go to the hospital? How did the person or people responsible react?
If you can take photos of the scene of the accident, that’s very helpful too.
Don’t worry if you can’t remember everything or if you are claiming for someone else and don’t know all the details. Tell us everything you can, and we’ll do extra investigation if we need to.
If the police were involved, we’ll be able to speak to them and get a copy of the police report. In some cases, we may be able to get a copy of an accident report from the Health and Safety Executive.
We can sometimes get video evidence from nearby CCTV cameras. If you have your own video footage – for example, from a dashcam in your car – we can use that too.
We’ll try to contact any people who saw the accident and ask them to give statements to support your claim. We may also send a specialist to visit the scene of the accident and give their expert opinion.
3. Assess your injuries or illness
We’ll also need to give evidence for your injuries or illness and the impact they’ve had on your life.
If you’ve already been to hospital or seen your GP, we’ll be able to access your medical records. You’ll need to complete a form giving us permission to do this.
- Ask for photos of any visible injuries such as bruises, cuts, or scars
- Arrange an expert medical assessment of your injuries
- Consult specialists to find out how long your injuries will take to heal
- Find out the long-term impact of your injuries.
During your medical assessment, an expert will examine your injuries in person. They may take photographs if any of your injuries are visible. They’ll ask about any pain or discomfort you have, how they’ve affected your day-to-day life, and how the accident has affected your mental health.
All information from your medical assessment, including any photos, will be kept strictly confidential. You can have a friend or family member with you at your assessment if you want.
The people we’re claiming against may request that their own medical expert assess your injuries as well.
If you’re seriously injured, we’ll also arrange a needs assessment with one of our support and rehabilitation coordinators. They’ll work out if your injuries mean that you need any special rehabilitation or therapy, changes to your accommodation, or care support. They’ll also help arrange any support that you need.
4. Arrange medical care or rehabilitation
Helping you make the best possible recovery is our main priority, so we’ll organise any medical care or rehabilitation that you need as soon as possible.
You may not be able to get the level of care you need through the NHS, or maybe you’d have to wait for NHS support. If so, we can help you access private care to make sure you get the best possible treatment, when you need it.
We’ll discuss your recovery goals and make a plan to help you achieve them. Maybe you want to get back to work as soon as possible, or simply want to be able to play with your kids again. We’ll consult specialists to understand how much recovery you can make and set achievable goals based on your injuries. We’ll also put you in touch with the right people and organisations to help you work toward those milestones.
We’ll also arrange interim payments where necessary to help you fund any treatments you need. Interim payments let you get part of your compensation settlement early to cover costs while your claim continues – read more about interim payments
5. Review recovery
In some cases, your recovery progress may affect your claim before we reach a settlement. If so, we may need to arrange a second medical assessment. We’ll also contact the people in charge of your rehabilitation for opinions about how your recovery is going.
Assessing how your recovery has gone so far will help our medical experts fine-tune their recommendations and make sure our evidence is as accurate as possible.
For serious injuries, it can sometimes take a long time to fully understand your long-term outlook. We may have to repeat stages four and five multiple times before we’re ready to move on.
6. Work out your compensation amount
Once we have all the evidence we need, we’re ready to work out how much compensation you deserve. This figure will take into account:
- Your injuries, pain and suffering
- The cost of any medical treatments, therapies, or rehabilitation
- Travel costs to and from medical appointments relating to the accident
- Lost income if you’re out of work or can’t do the same job as before the accident
- Adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, or an accessible car
- Home adaptations, or the cost of moving to a more accessible home
- Care costs – either covering the cost of a professional carer or compensating a family member for any time spent caring for you
- Items damaged in an accident such as your clothes, car, bike, and more.
Our calculation will take into account costs or losses that you’ve already incurred as well as those that we predict you’ll face in the future.
For some of these factors, we’ll be able to use the evidence we’ve gathered in the previous stages. For others, we’ll ask you to provide evidence such as receipts or pay slips.
If you’re claiming for damaged possessions, we’ll also ask for photos of the damage.
7. Reach a settlement
Once we’ve worked out how much compensation you deserve, we’ll try to agree the best possible final settlement with the people you’re claiming against.
They may suggest a settlement amount in an offer – known as a Part 36 offer – or we might make our own offer. Both sides can make multiple offers as we negotiate a figure that’s acceptable for everyone.
We’ll do all the communication and negotiation for you, according to your instructions. It’ll be up to you whether or accept an offer or not, but you’ll always have our advice and support.
If we can’t agree an offer, we’ll take your claim to court. Going to court can be stressful and time-consuming so we always try to negotiate out-of-court settlements first, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.
If your claim goes to a court hearing, a judge will examine the evidence, listen to witnesses, and decide how much compensation you should get. You may have to attend court yourself and give evidence.
We have decades of experience helping clients through court hearings and successfully securing compensation settlements. You’ll have our full support throughout, and we’ll explain everything in plain English so you always know what to expect.
You can still get offers for an out-of-court settlement once we’ve decided to take your claim to court. If you accept one of these offers, the court date will be cancelled.
8. Compensation payment
After you’ve accepted an offer or the court has made a decision, the final stage is to make decisions about how you’ll get your compensation payment.
Usually, you’ll get your compensation as a lump sum payment once your claim ends, minus any interim payments you’ve already had.
Sometimes, the Court will order that you get your compensation as monthly or yearly instalments known as ‘periodical payments’ instead. This will often happen if your compensation covers long-term care costs.
Most of the time, the compensation will be paid directly to you or a trust in your name.
In some cases, the money will be paid into a special account at Court instead. This will happen if you’re unable to manage your own financial affairs, for example because a brain injury has left you with reduced mental capacity. Specially appointed people will then use the money for you, in your best interests, to pay for your care and other costs.
9. Other support
Our support and rehabilitation coordinators may have already helped you access rehabilitation and other support services during stage four, and they’ll still be there for you once your claim ends. They’ll help you put a plan in place that lasts as long as your care and recovery needs continue.
Making a personal injury claim can also come with other legal and financial issues that you need help with. Here at Irwin Mitchell, you can get advice and support on these issues from people who already know you and your unique situation.
Whether during or after your claim, we can help you:
Contact us online or call 0800 056 4110 to find out more about making a personal injury claim or any of the other services we offer.