How Many Personal Injury Claims Go To Court?

If you have suffered from a personal injury that you believe to be due to a failure in duty of care by another party, you might be considering pursuing a personal injury claim against them. Personal injury claims can enable you to win compensation if you have suffered an injury that has affected your life. The compensation can be used to cover costs such as medical treatment and the expenses related to that, loss of earnings, and any other costs that you have incurred as a result of the injury.

Some people are put off making personal injury claims because they are reluctant to go to court. In fact, only about 5% of personal injury cases actually reach court, with the majority of them being settled out of court beforehand.

It is generally the case that most personal injury claims are pretty straightforward. Going to court can be expensive and time-consuming, meaning that it is preferable for claims to be settled before it gets to that stage for all parties.

The Ministry of Justice produces national statistics relating to civil cases and judicial reviews.

Between October to December 2023, there were 402,000 claims started in the County Court. Of those claims, there were 13,000 personal injury claims.

Out of the overall figure of 402,000, there were 11,000 Trials during the relevant period, so that we can see that whilst many Claimants start the Court process, only a small percentage (in the region of 3%) ever proceed to a Trial.

Instructing a Solicitor

When you have suffered a personal injury that you believe that you can claim compensation for, you should instruct a solicitor. At this point, the solicitor will look into the case to decide whether they believe that you are likely to be successful. Normally, solicitors will only take on a case if they believe it has a reasonable prospect of success.

The solicitor will assess the case based on three criteria:

  • That the injury has occurred within the last three years (according to the Limitation Act 1980),
  • That the other party was to blame in the solicitor’s consideration, and
  • That the defendant owed you a duty of care.

The solicitor may also have other criteria that they stipulate when they are considering taking on a new case.

If the case does go to court, it will be heard by a Judge alone and will not require a jury as the Trial will be held in a civil courtroom. It should be said that compared to what most people expect, the majority of people who do go to court with a personal injury claim admit that it was not as stressful as they expected it to be.

Why Might a Personal Injury Case Go To Court?

There is a distinction between commencing Proceedings and a claim being finalised at a Trial or Hearing. When a personal injury Claimant makes a claim for damages, it is sometimes the case that the Defendant (the other party) may dispute liability for the claim. For example, if you are injured in a road traffic accident and the other driver does not think they are to blame, then they may defend the claim by denying any liability for the accident.

In a damages claim, the onus of proof is upon the Claimant to prove that the Defendant has acted negligently. Where there is a dispute in respect of this, then cases often become subject of Court Proceedings.

If liability for the accident is not in dispute, then it is possible that the amount of the claim may be an issue. Again, by way of example, if the Claimant has suffered damage to property or loss of earnings, the Defendant may dispute the amount of the sums claimed.

Why Don’t Most Personal Injury Claims Go To Court?

The vast majority of personal injury claims are pursued under relevant protocols which enable both parties to have a full understanding of each other’s case. Therefore, it is often possible by the early disclosure of information and documentation, for example medical reports, loss of earnings details, vehicle damage estimates etc., for claims to be resolved without the added expense and inconvenience of advancing a claim through the Court process. Early dispute resolution is encouraged under the relevant protocol and as legal and Court costs can increase, by virtue of continuing with a claim by way of Proceedings, then it is often in all parties’ interests to try and reach an amicable settlement at the earliest possible stage.

What Happens When a Personal Injury Case Goes to Court?

The claimant will file a claim with the appropriate court and provide evidence in support of their case. The Defendant will have an opportunity to respond to the claim and provide their defence to the claim. The court will then hold a Hearing at which both parties will have the opportunity to present their cases.

In the unlikely event that your personal injury case actually ends up in court, you will not necessarily need to be present. In some cases, a solicitor or barrister will be able to go to represent you. This is normally the case if your claim is estimated to be between £1,000 and £25,000 –and conducted via the MOJ Portal.

If the claim is allocated to the ‘Fast Track’  or  ‘multitrack’, then you might need to attend court to answer questions about your injury from both your solicitor and a representative from the other party. This will still be a court with only the judge and no jury, it is important to remember.

What To Do If Your Personal Injury Case Goes To Court?

If you are the Claimant in a personal injury claim and Court Proceedings have been commenced, then you are required to sign Court papers that document your honest belief in your claim and the facts that you are presenting to the Court in support of your claim. This Statement of Truth is important, as if you bring a claim and present the same to the Court knowing or believing that aspects are false, then you may be subject of sanctions to include Proceedings for contempt. Waldrons will advise you throughout the Court process as to your obligations and will prepare all relevant Court Claim Forms and documents on your behalf.

Once Court Proceedings are started, the Court will set a timetable for the steps to be taken in respect of the claim to include relevant exchange of documents and evidence, even if those same documents have been disclosed prior to Court Proceedings. Ultimately a date will be set for a final Hearing before a Judge, at which your claim will be presented.

Do You Need To Be Present In Court?

If the matter proceeds to a full Trial, then you would be required to give evidence in support of your claim. Statistically, the prospects of proceeding to Trial are very low, as outlined earlier.   The Court will  give an Order to the parties which confirms if attendance at Court is necessary or whether the matter will be dealt with based upon the papers alone. 

Will There Be A Jury?

Personal injury claims are not conducted in front of a Jury. The Trial Judge will assess the evidence and make a determination on both the issues of liability (who’s fault the accident was) and damages (how much the claim is worth).

Contact Waldrons Solicitors

We have a team of specialist Personal Injury lawyers, ready to guide you through the process of making a claim. If you’d like to speak to someone about your case, get in touch today!

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Last reviewed on 11/07/23 by Joseph Norton who is a Director and Head of Compensation