What Happens When a Compensation Claim Goes to Court?

If you have suffered an accident or incident where you believe that you are eligible to receive an amount of compensation, you can make a claim against the party whom you believe to be liable for your personal injury. The process would normally involve making a compensation claim against them, which is usually handled through their insurers.

It is often the case that these compensation claims are settled out of court, but they can sometimes remain unresolved and, therefore, be proceeded to the court for the outcome of the claim to be decided.

How Likely Is My Personal Injury Claim to Go to Court?

Some people get worried about going to court and this can put them off making the compensation claim that they are entitled to. Only about 5% of compensation claims actually get to court, and these are usually more complicated cases, where it is difficult to ascertain who is liable for the incident.

Why Are Most Compensation Claims Settled Out of Court?

The truth is that settling compensation claims out of court is preferable for just about everyone. It resolves the case quickly, without unnecessary costs, and allows all parties to move on.

Solicitor Vetting

Before they take on a case, a solicitor will first carry out a vetting process to assess the risks that might be related to taking it on. The vetting process will normally investigate three factors:

  1. That the injury was incurred within the last three years (although this can be longer if children are involved)
  2. That another party was liable for the injury
  3. That the duty of care was the responsibility of the defendant

Normally, these three criteria will need to be met for a solicitor to take on a case, however, just because you meet all of the criteria, it does not mean that they will definitely take it on.

Cost and Uncertainty

When a claim is made against a defendant it is the beginning of a negotiation process. Solicitors will normally be negotiating on behalf of the claimant and the defendant’s insurance company on their behalf. Only when this negotiation cannot be resolved will the case go to court.

Most people are keen to avoid going to court not only because it can be costly to all parties, but also because the outcome can be much more uncertain than if an agreement is reached out of court.

Why Might A Claim Go to Court?

Although most cases do not make it to court, some do. They are usually cases that fall into one of four categories – complex cases, unresponsive defendants or insurers, cases whereby the defendant is denying liability, and cases where claimants are looking for interim payments.

Case Complexity

If you have a complex or very serious case, it may need to be heard in court. These kinds of cases can include fatal accident claims, serious work injury or industrial disease claims, medical negligence, claims involving children, serious road injury claims, and back, head, and spinal injury claims.

Unresponsive Defendant or Insurer

If a defendant or insurer fails to respond – or is slow to respond your solicitor may start court proceedings. The defendant is, therefore, required to respond in a timely and correct manner, and appoint a solicitor for their representation.

Denial of Liability

If the defendant denies responsibility for the injury, court proceedings may begin. It is important to remember, however, that even if a solicitor has begun court proceedings, the claim can still be settled out of court.

Interim Payments

If you have living expenses or treatment costs that must be paid before the final settlement, a solicitor can claim interim payments through the court.

What Happens If My Claim Does Go to Court?

When your solicitor and the defendant’s insurer do not reach a claim settlement that is acceptable to both parties, the solicitor will begin court proceedings. They will file a claim to the court, which will then examine it and decide the best way to proceed from then on.

The court may ask for information before a particular deadline and give you a date for the case to be heard.

It is important to remember that out of court compensation settlements can be made right up to the last minute to avoid going to court.

Will I Have to Attend the Court in Person?

Whether you will need to attend the court in person would normally depend on the amount of money that you are claiming for. If you are claiming for between £1,000 and £25,000, your claim is categorised as ‘fast track’ and would therefore not usually need to attend court. You would be represented by your solicitor or an appointed barrister.

If, however, you are claiming compensation of over £25,000 – categorised as ‘multi track’ – you may need to attend court to answer questions about the circumstances around your injury by your representative as well as the defendant’s representative.

Will There Be A Jury?

Claims for personal injury compensation are heard in a civil courtroom, meaning that there will not be a jury.

How We Can Help

Our solicitors are highly trained in getting the best outcome for our clients, whether it be in court or an out of court settlement.


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