If you or a loved one were injured in an accident that was not your fault, you might be able to claim. To be eligible for compensation, you need evidence that your injuries were caused within the last three years and that somebody who owed you a duty of care was to blame.
The easiest way to find out whether you have grounds to make a claim is through a free consultation with a legal adviser. If they accept your case, you will be offered a no win no fee service, so you can pursue compensation without taking any financial risks and with no upfront costs.
For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410 or enter your details into our simple online claim form to get a call back. They can let you know if you may be eligible to make a claim and answer any questions you may have.
Can I make a personal injury claim?
If you suffered an injury or illness due to someone else’s negligence, you would likely be able to claim compensation. The easiest way to find out if you have a valid case is a free consultation with a legal adviser, but as a general rule, you can make a personal injury claim if:
You were injured in the last three years
The three-year limitation period starts from the date you became aware of your injury, also known as the date of knowledge. In most personal injury claims, the date of knowledge and the date of the accident are the same, but some injuries or illnesses can be diagnosed days, months or even years later. This is particularly true for cases such as asbestos claims, hearing loss and other industrial accident claims.
As you can read below, there are some exceptions to the three-year limitation date, such as if the victim is a child or lacks the mental capacity to claim. Nonetheless, the sooner you seek legal advice, the easier it is to collect evidence and build a strong case, so you should aim to do this as early as possible.
Your injury caused you physical suffering and financial distress
In every personal injury claim, you are entitled to claim compensation for your pain and suffering, as well as any financial losses and expenses caused by your accident. However, you need evidence to support your claim for damages, such as:
- Medical records that state the treatments you received
- A medical assessment with a qualified healthcare professional to assess the full extent of your injuries and their long-term or permanent implications
- Pictures of any visible injuries and your recovery process
- Proof of related psychological trauma or psychiatric damage
- Receipts for all the related financial expenses you incurred and proof of lost wages
- Photos of any damage to your property
- Statements from you and your loved ones about how the injury affected your day-to-day life
Based on this evidence, your solicitor will work out how much compensation you are entitled to and negotiate with the party responsible to get you the best settlement.
Another person was wholly or partly responsible for your injury
While it is not always easy to determine who was responsible for your injuries, you should try to gather as much evidence as possible immediately after the accident. It will be much easier to assign liability if you can provide relevant evidence, which depending on your accident type, could include:
- Photographs of the accident scene that capture what caused your injuries
- The license plate and insurance details of other drivers involved in a road traffic accident
- Names and contact details for any witnesses to the accident scene
- Your notes detailing how, when and where the accident took place
- Reports from the police or emergency services
- An accident report if you were injured at work or in a public place
- CCTV or dash cam footage of the accident
Sometimes the circumstances can be more complicated, as in medical negligence cases. Your solicitor will collate as much evidence as possible and work with other specialists to establish the events that led to your injury or illness.
That person owed you a duty of care
Generally speaking, everybody has a general responsibility to behave in a way that does not endanger the safety and well-being of others. More specifically:
- Healthcare professionals have a duty of care toward patients
- Road users have a duty of care toward other road users
- Employers owe a duty of care to their employees
- Business owners have a duty of care to their customers
You don’t need to be concerned about establishing a duty of care. Your solicitor will take care of this aspect by referring to relevant legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Road Traffic Act 1988.
What type of accidents can I make a claim for?
Suffering from an injury or illness can be very distressing and cause significant pain, suffering and financial losses. If another party was at least partially responsible for your damages, you might want to claim compensation.
Many accidents could lead to a personal injury claim, including:
- Road traffic accidents, including pedestrian, cyclist, passenger and motorbike accidents
- Accidents at work, including repetitive strain injuries and machinery accidents
- Medical negligence claims, including birth injuries, misdiagnosis and GP negligence
- Criminal injuries, including robbery, assaults and historical sexual abuse
- Military accidents, including off duty accidents and accidents during training
- Dog bites and other animal attacks
- Sports injuries, including sports centre and gym accidents
- Industrial accidents, including manual handling accidents and hearing loss
- Accidents in public, including claims against the council and slips, trips and falls
- Fatal accidents
- Holiday accidents, including food poisoning, hotel accidents and swimming pool accidents
Whatever type of injury you may have sustained in an accident, you might be eligible for compensation. Your solicitor will work out who you should be claiming against and inform them of your allegations of negligence.
If the other side admits liability, you may begin to negotiate a settlement. If they deny liability or you cannot agree on a suitable compensation award, your solicitor will issue court proceedings. Based on the value of your claim, you might have to wait up to two years to receive a court date.
However, negotiations can continue until the trial date, and more than 95% of all personal injury claims actually reach an out-of-court settlement. In the unlikely event you have to argue your claim before a judge, they will examine all the available evidence and decide how much compensation you should receive if your claim is successful.
Can I claim on behalf of somebody else?
Most people who have suffered a personal injury will make a compensation claim themselves. However, this is not always possible, and some victims need a litigation friend to represent them.
Under the Court of Protection Rules 2017, any person over 18 can become a litigation friend by filling in and serving a certificate of suitability. Your application must convince the court that:
- You can conduct legal proceedings on behalf of the victim in a fair and competent manner
- You have no conflict of interest with the person in question
Becoming a litigation friend can be a long-term commitment that brings many responsibilities, such as:
- Attend court hearings if necessary
- Approve and sign legal documents
- Give directions to your solicitor and take legal advice
- Consider any settlement offers
- Pay the fees requested by the court
- Keep updated on proceedings and deal with correspondence
- Make sure the victim attends all medical appointments
If you believe you can fulfil the duties of a litigation friend, you could take legal action on behalf of:
A child under 18 years old
In the eyes of the law, children do not have the mental capacity to understand the legal process, so they will need an adult to act on their behalf. If nobody brings a claim before the child turns 18, they will have another three years to take legal action on their own accord.
Child injury claims could be made by a parent, legal guardian, friend or family member over 18. The litigation friend must go through an Infant Approval Hearing before a judge who will decide whether they received a fair settlement based on the available evidence.
Although you can claim on behalf of a child, you cannot access their compensation award. Instead, the money will be transferred into a court bank account or a personal injury trust in their name and released to them once they turn 18.
A protected party
According to the Mental Capacity Act 2005, a protected party is an adult who suffers from:
- PTSD or another stress disorder
- An intellectual disability such as Down syndrome
- A mental health disorder such as schizophrenia
- Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease
- A traumatic brain injury or stroke
If someone lacks mental capacity, there is no time limit to start a personal injury claim on their behalf. The three-year countdown only begins if they recover intellectual ability and can make a claim themselves.
Someone who is deceased
You could make a wrongful death claim if you classify as a dependent of the deceased, which includes:
- A spouse or civil partner, past or present
- An unmarried partner who cohabited with the victim for at least two years
- A direct descendant, including adopted and step-children
- A parent, grandparent, sibling, uncle or aunt
- Anyone treated as a parent or child by the deceased
If a loved one died due to another person’s negligence, you could claim for financial and loss of service dependency. You are also entitled to recover funeral costs and any financial losses they incurred between the date of the accident and the date of death.
Your role as a litigation friend will usually come to an end when:
- A child turns 18, whether you reached a settlement or not
- A protected party regains their mental capacity or recovers from illness
- The claim comes to an end, whether you win or lose
- If you or someone else applies to replace you as litigation friend, with a valid reason
How long do I have to make a claim?
The time limit to make a claim for a personal injury is usually three years from either:
- The date of an accident; or
- The date you became aware of an injury or illness, also known as the date of knowledge
The last date you can start legal proceedings is the claim limitation date. Even if you feel you have plenty of time left, you should not delay in contacting a no win no fee solicitor. It can take several months for them to collect evidence and prepare everything you need to start your claim. Due to this, many solicitors will not take a claim on if there is insufficient time before the limitation date.
There are several exceptions to the three-year limitation date for claiming, including the following:
- There is no time limit to start legal proceedings if the victim is under 18. A litigation friend can bring a claim on their behalf at any time before that, regardless of when they were injured.
- If the victim lacks the mental capacity to conduct legal proceedings, the time limit is suspended and only starts if they regain their intellectual ability. A litigation friend could bring a claim on their behalf at any point in the meantime.
- Military personnel injured in the line of duty can claim compensation through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) within seven years after suffering an injury. A civil claim is also possible and might result in a larger settlement, but it falls under the standard three-year time limit.
- If you or a loved one were the victim of a violent crime, you could make a criminal injury claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority within two years after the event and only if you made a police report.
- If a loved one passed away due to a fatal accident caused by somebody else’s negligence, you have three years to start a claim from the date of death or the date you received a post-mortem report.
- Product liability claims must be brought within three years from an accident and no longer than ten years after the product launch date.
- If you suffered a personal injury abroad, the claim limitation date might depend on the foreign country’s laws and could be as short as six months.
As a general rule, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible after an accident. This will make it easier for your solicitor to speak to witnesses and secure evidence such as CCTV footage to build a strong case and secure the compensation you deserve.
Can I claim for an injury using no win no fee?
If you feel you may have a valid claim for personal injury compensation, you should contact a professional solicitor as early as possible. They will offer you a free consultation to discuss your case and determine whether you have a fair chance to win.
If they agree to represent you, they will discuss your funding options. If you do not have legal expenses insurance, or other options to fund your claim, your solicitor will offer you a no win no fee service. This allows you to pursue compensation without any upfront costs or taking any financial risks due to:
The conditional fee agreement (CFA) between you and your solicitor
The CFA is a legal document you sign at the beginning of your claim, which states that:
- You do not have to pay any upfront solicitor fees.
- You only have to pay your solicitor if they win compensation for your injuries.
- If your case is successful, you will pay them a success fee of up to 25% of your compensation award.
The conditional fee agreement gives you peace of mind and the confidence that your case has merit. Your solicitor will not be able to recover their costs unless you win the case, so you can rest assured they will represent you in the best way possible.
The After the Event (ATE) insurance policy
As part of your no win no fee agreement, your solicitor will also take out legal expense insurance on your behalf. If you lose your compensation claim, the ATE insurance provides comprehensive coverage for legal charges and disbursements, including:
- The other side’s solicitor fees
- Expert witness fees
- Police and medical reports
- Paralegal, secretarial and other staff fees
- Barrister fees, if your case goes to court
- Related travel expenses
In a no win no fee claim you only have to pay anything if you win compensation for your damages. If your case is successful, the defendant will cover most of your legal expenses, while you will only have to pay:
- Some basic legal fees that cannot be recovered from the other side, such as the cost of a medical report that was not useful to the claim.
- The cost of the ATE insurance premium – If you lose the claim, the ATE is considered a disbursement and is self-insuring, so you do not have to pay anything.
- A success fee to your solicitor
Can I still claim if I was partly at fault for the accident?
Yes, the law allows you to pursue compensation even if you were partially at fault for your injuries. If the court decides that you hold less than 51% of the blame, you could still be eligible to make a personal injury claim.
Your part of the fault is considered contributory negligence towards the extent of your injuries. Some examples of contributory negligence include:
- Not wearing a seatbelt in a car accident
- Not wearing a helmet as a cyclist or skier
- A pedestrian who was not looking for traffic before crossing the street
- Being reckless, careless or hasty
- Operating machinery under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- A motorcyclist weaving between lanes
If both you and the defendant share responsibility for your injuries, your compensation award will be reduced due to split liability. Based on the available evidence, the court may decide that the two parties hold 50:50, 30:70, 40:60 liability or any other ratio they deem reasonable.
Establishing liability can be complicated, and it may not always be clear who was responsible for an accident. That is why you should never admit liability before speaking to a solicitor.
Even if you feel you are entirely to blame for your injuries, you should still seek legal advice. Ultimately, it is up to the defendant to prove that you are partially responsible for the accident. If they have no evidence of this, you may still receive a compensation award if you win the claim.
Can I make a personal injury claim after 3 years?
Under the Limitation Act 1980, the time limit to make a personal injury claim is usually three years after an accident has occurred. The last date on which you can start legal proceedings is known as the claim limitation date.
Sometimes, however, an injury may not become immediately apparent. In some cases, as often happens in asbestos claims, it may take decades for an illness to develop. In these circumstances, the three-year time limit starts on the date of knowledge, which refers to the moment you realised that:
- Another person was at least partially responsible for your injury or illness
- Your damages are significant enough to claim compensation
If you do not bring a claim before the limitation date, your case becomes statute-barred, and the court will no longer accept it, even if it has merit. Nonetheless, under section 33 of the Limitation Act, a judge has the authority to overrule the three-year time limit in certain circumstances where it would be fair and reasonable to do so.
The court might allow you to make a claim after three years by considering:
- The length of and reason for your delay
- Whether the delay has affected the strength of evidence
- The defendant’s conduct after the cause of action arose
- The duration of any disability you sustained after the accident
- How promptly and reasonably you acted once you learned that you could claim
- The steps you took to obtain expert evidence
As seen in the section above, in certain circumstances, you are allowed more time to take legal action. You could claim after three years if:
- The victim is under 18 years old
- The victim lacks the mental capacity to conduct legal proceedings
- You are claiming military injury compensation through the AFCS
It is essential to keep in mind that you must file the formal court documents before the limitation date. As it takes a significant amount of work to prepare these documents, most solicitors will not take on a case if you have less than six months left to the limitation date.