How many personal injury claims go to court?
If you suffer an injury due to somebody else’s negligence, you are entitled to make a personal injury claim. Injury claims are the legal way of receiving compensation for your losses from the liable party.
Your personal injury solicitor will consider the many ways in which your injury affected your life and will try to negotiate a suitable compensation amount with the defendant. If they can’t reach an agreement or the defendant denies liability, the case will go to court.
In the UK, most personal injury claims are settled out of court. Only the more complex cases, often involving multiple injuries, protected parties, children or high-value claims, might end up in court. A judge will review all the facts and assess liability and compensation based on the available evidence.
If you want to make a personal injury claim, an experienced solicitor can estimate your chances to settle out of court. For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410 or enter your details into our online claim form to receive a call back.
How many personal injury claims go to court?
Only up to 5% of all injury claims will end up in court. One of the reasons behind this is that a solicitor will only take on a case when they think it will likely be successful. That means there’s a high chance the defendant will accept liability and will be willing to settle out-of-court.
According to recent Ministry of Justice statistics, between January and March 2021, 403,000 County Court claims were made in England and Wales. Of these, 69,000 were defended, and only 14,000 went to trial. That is equivalent to approximately only 3.5% of all claims going to court.
If somebody else caused you an injury and you are reluctant about claiming compensation, you shouldn’t be put off by the thought you’ll have to attend court and spend a lot of money on legal fees. It is quite rare that a case will end up before a judge.
Why are most injury claims settled out of court?
Before deciding to represent you, a solicitor will verify that you have a valid claim and are entitled to compensation. They will also assess the probability of your claim ending up in court.
Getting legal advice significantly increases the possibility to settle outside the court. Your solicitor will double-check that you suffered an injury because of someone else’s negligence and make sure that you can prove this with facts. The defendant will most likely not want to end up in court, as it might prove costly for them.
Deciding to settle out of court brings several advantages, including:
- It saves you a lot of time, and it’s less stressful. Going before a judge can be nerve-racking; you will need to be regularly available for court hearings and questioning during the litigation process. Recovering damages might take months or years if you go before a court.
- Fewer expenses. Going to court might become a lot more expensive than you would expect. There might be extra courtroom costs, expert witness fees, and your solicitor might take higher charges when going to trial.
- Faster agreement. A lawsuit might take years to conclude, while an out of court settlement is usually a lot quicker way of getting compensation.
- Guaranteed compensation. If the defendant agrees on a settlement without going to court, you are guaranteed to receive compensation. If they are ordered by a court to pay you damages, there’s room to file an appeal, declare bankruptcy, or delay payment in other ways. Unlike court orders, settlements cannot be appealed.
In the end, nobody wants to go to court. If you win the claim, the defendant must pay all the trial fees. Whenever possible, both sides will try to avoid the costs and time-consuming process of a court hearing.
Why could my personal injury claims go to court?
For most personal injury claims, going to court is the last resort. You might have to wait up to 12 months even to receive a court date, and it might take years before the case concludes.
Nonetheless, there are some circumstances when a personal injury claim might go to court:
This could include:
- challenging medical negligence cases
- head, brain or spine injuries
- claims involving children
- serious road traffic accidents
- significant work injury and industrial claims
- fatal accident claims
The defendant denies liability
If the party you hold responsible for your injuries denies liability, your solicitor may start court proceedings. You will have to gather all the available evidence and present the facts before a judge. Photographs of the accident scene, witnesses and medical records might be essential to help you win the claim in court.
The other party is unresponsive
If the defendant or their insurer is slow to respond or ignores your compensation claim, you might have to go to court. They will be legally obliged to respond to your lawsuit, and you might begin to negotiate a compensation award.
If your injury requires urgent medical treatment and you can’t afford to cover the costs, your solicitor can apply to the court for you to receive interim payments. You can get interim payments before reaching a final compensation settlement if you need financial assistance.
You can’t settle
Even if there’s no liability dispute, it might happen that the two parties can’t agree on a suitable compensation amount. In this case, a judge will evaluate the extent of your injuries and all the financial losses you incurred as a result and will decide the amount of compensation you should get.
What happens when a personal injury claim goes to court?
If you can’t settle your claim out of court, your case will go to trial. Personal injury claims are heard in a civil courtroom without a jury. The court will decide how to proceed with your claim depending on its complexity and financial value.
During the trial, a solicitor or a barrister will represent you. If there are any witnesses, they will give a statement and might be cross-examined.
You will have to prepare some paperwork for the court, including:
- witness statements
- an expert medical assessment of your injuries
- evidence of financial loss
- photographs or other relevant proof
After considering all the evidence and hearing the witness statements, the judge will conclude the claim and inform both parties about their decision.
Your solicitor will give you support and advice throughout the claiming process and gather all the relevant documents you will need to present in a court hearing.
Will I have to attend court?
You won’t necessarily have to attend court if you want your solicitor to represent you. In personal injury claims, there are two types of cases:
- Fast track cases, where the estimated compensation is less than £25,000, can be settled by your solicitor alone.
- Multitrack cases, where the estimated value of your claim exceeds £25,000. In this case, you might be expected to attend court and answer questions about how you got injured and how this affected your life.
- The defendant might contest your whole claim, just a part of it, or accept liability but disagree with the compensation amount you are asking. If you are required to attend a court hearing, your solicitor will make sure you are fully prepared and will help you throughout the process.
When will I get my court hearing date?
After submitting your claim in court, you might have to wait between 6 to 12 months before going to a court hearing. After receiving your court date, you will also get instructions about the court proceedings that you should go over with your solicitor. These might concern:
- general instructions for your type of claim
- specific instructions related to your case
- what you need to know in order to prepare for court
- any special needs you might require, such as wheelchair access or an interpreter
Even if your solicitor started court proceedings, you can continue negotiations with the defendant until the last minute before the hearing. Many insurance companies will deny liability even when they know the defendant holds responsibility, hoping that the claimant won’t go to court. They might agree to settle at the last minute to avoid a trial.
Can I still settle out of court if court proceedings have started?
There’s a high chance your claim will settle out of court even after proceedings have started. Only a minor percentage of the cases initiated at court end up at a court hearing. The defendant can agree to a settlement until the last moment before the trial starts.
Most parties and even the court prefer to avoid a formal hearing. Even in complex or high-value cases, the defendant and their insurance company would rather avoid the increased legal costs of a trial and settle outside the court.