When your personal injury solicitor tells you that your case is going to court, it just means that your claim is moving forwards. Much of the time, your case will still be settled before you even step foot inside a courtroom.
How personal injury claims are settled outside of court
Court proceedings will usually be issued if a settlement cannot be agreed during the first stages of negotiating your claim, but even after they have been issued, your solicitor will still be trying to negotiate with the defendant’s legal team to try to settle the case outside of court.
Joint settlement meetings
Personal injury claim cases can be settled outside of court, right up until a court hearing takes place. Often, a joint settlement meeting is arranged, which allows both you and your solicitor and the defendant and their solicitor, to get together to discuss the claim in an attempt to settle before your case reaches the court hearing stage.
Why do personal injury claims go to court?
A court hearing will take place if the amount of compensation you are awarded cannot be agreed between you and the person or company responsible for your injury, or if the person/company you are claiming against does not respond to the claim. Other reasons for a case going to court include:
- If your solicitor thinks that your claim should involve compensation which allows for interim payments; for example, if your injury has caused you to be out of work and you need some form of income. The prospect of having to go to court can either speed up the processing of interim payments, or put a deadline on how long you will have to wait to receive compensation.
- To speed up responses from insurers dealing with the case – this tends to happen if they are not responding quickly enough to a claim, or don’t seem to grasp the complexity of a claim. Taking the case to court means that the insurers will have to appoint a solicitor to represent them, which can often speed up the settlement process.
A court hearing will put a value on your claim and will make a final decision about how much compensation you will receive.
Would I have to attend court if my claim goes to court?
In many cases, if the value of your claim is under £25,000 there is no need for you to attend court and a specialist personal injury solicitor will either represent you in court, or they will recommend a barrister to argue your case. Cases involving a claim of over £25,000 are often extremely complex, so you may be required to attend court to be questioned on your version of events.
What types of personal injury cases go to court?
The majority of personal injury claims could involve going to court, if the claim wasn’t able to be settled beforehand, but it does tend to be the more complex and multi-faceted cases that tend to get as far as a court hearing. However, any type of injury or accident can involve complex issues, including:
- Brain injury claims
- Head injury claims
- Back and spinal injury claims
- Amputation claims
- Fatal accident claims
- Accident at work claims
- Road traffic accident claims
- Clinical negligence claims
- Medical negligence claims
- Industrial disease claims
- Slips, trips and fall claims
- Holiday accident claims
- Cosmetic surgery claims
- Industrial deafness and tinnitus claims
- Asbestos claims
- Repetitive strain injury claims
What types of personal injury court hearings take place?
- CMC hearing – this is a case management conference hearing and takes place when the defendant’s and the claimant’s legal representatives meet together with the judge before the hearing, to discuss how the case will be handled.
- Allocation hearing – this is where a judge needs more information before they allocate levels of fault and award compensation. You will either need to send more information to the court, or you will be asked to attend an allocation hearing where the judge will ask you for more information in person.
- Detailed assessment hearing – a court can order a detailed assessment hearing to take place after proceedings have concluded, in order to set out the details of how costs will be awarded. Costs can include court costs and legal expenses.
- Small claims hearings – these hearings are usually for claims up to the value of £10,000 and will last no longer than 1 day.
- Fast-track hearing – these usually apply to cases where the claim value is between £10,000 and £25,000 and tend to last no longer than 1 day.
- Multi-track hearing – more complex claims, worth more than £25,000 in compensation, will be heard at a multi-track hearing, which usually takes several days.
- Child settlement hearing – this is where a claim relating to an injury sustained by a child under the age of 18 is heard. The outcome of the hearing will usually focus on ensuring that the claim is not under settled and will provide a platform to help ensure that the compensation money is invested in the best interests of the child claimant whilst they are under 18.
- Disposal hearing – these types of hearing will usually take place if liability for your claim has been admitted and all that is left to agree is the compensation amount. They can also be referred to as ‘assessment of damages’ hearings and only the defendant and claimant’s solicitors/barristers will need to attend, alongside a judge.
What will happen at a personal injury court hearing?
Once court proceedings have been issued by your solicitor, a court will provide deadlines for when it needs to have received certain information and documentation about your claim. This will include things like witness statements, medical expenses and medical reports. A trial date will then be set, which is the date that your case will be heard at court.
If your case does reach court, the hearing will take the form of a civil hearing, which means that there isn’t a jury. If you are required to attend, you will be called to go through the statement your solicitor will have worked through with you, before being questioned about your version of events by your solicitor/barrister and the defendant’s solicitor/barrister. If you or the defendant have any witnesses, they will also be questioned by both parties.
Once a judge has heard both sides and taken into account any previous settlement offers, they will make a definitive decision about who was at fault and what compensation amount should be awarded, based on the injuries that you have sustained and the financial and personal losses that are associated with those injuries. Your compensation should then take 2-3 weeks to be processed into your bank account.
How long does it take for a personal injury claim to be settled at court?
Your case will usually be heard by a court within 9 to 12 months if the claim value is worth up to £25,000. For cases involving injury claims worth more than this, cases will usually be heard sooner.
Advice about personal injury claims
At Bray & Bray, our personal injury specialists are highly trained, qualified solicitors who have a great deal of experience in handling compensation claims for all types of accidents and injuries. Whether it’s in your best interests to settle a claim outside of court, or to take it all the way to a hearing, you can rest assured that you will be supported every step of the way by an expert who will always act in your best interests.
To speak to one of our expert personal injury solicitors, call us at any time of the day or night on: 0800 6341 777.
Alternatively, you can email us or call to speak to us at any of our office locations below: