The Ministry of Justice produce national statistics.
Between April to June 2021, there were 395,000 claims started in the County Court. Of those claims, there were 21,000 personal injury claims.
Out of the overall figure of 395,000, there were 13,000 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.
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 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 present in court?
If the matter proceeds to a full Trail, 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 reason that you have to be present in Court is that is how you prove your case and you must be available for questioning by the other party, or its legal advisors and this is known as cross examination. You also have the opportunity through your legal advisors, to question the Defendant to the claim.
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).
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Last reviewed on 11/07/23 by Joseph Norton who is a Director and Head of Compensation