If someone else’s actions or negligence have caused you to suffer an injury or illness, you might be able to make a personal injury claim. If you make a successful case, you can recover damages for your pain, suffering and related financial losses.
However, many people are reluctant to start legal proceedings, worrying they might have to go to court. As a general rule, this is not something you should be concerned about, as only around two to three per cent of all personal injury claims proceed to a trial.
The article below aims to clarify how many personal injury cases go to court and what happens when they do.
To find out how likely it is that you will have to argue your claim before a judge, call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal adviser. If you prefer, you can enter your details into our online claim form to receive a call back without any obligation to proceed.
How do I make a personal injury claim?
If you want to start a claim, the first thing you should do is speak to a personal injury lawyer. They will offer you a free initial consultation to assess your case and determine who might be liable for your injuries. If your claim has merit, they will advise you on the next steps and guide you through the claims process.
Once you appoint your solicitor, they will start building your case. That involves gathering as much evidence as possible to prove liability and how your injuries have affected you. You can help by providing photographs of the accident scene, medical records and other proof of your financial expenses, such as lost income.
When your case is ready, your solicitor will contact the defendant and inform them of your intentions to claim compensation. If the other party takes responsibility for your losses, you may begin to negotiate a settlement. Otherwise, your solicitor may initiate court proceedings and argue your case before a judge. Please continue reading the sections below to learn why this may happen and how it could affect your claim.
What percentage of personal injury cases go to court?
How many personal injury cases go to court in the UK will depend on various factors. These include the nature of the case, the strength of the evidence, and the willingness of the parties to negotiate a settlement.
However, only a relatively small percentage of personal injury claims proceed to a full trial in court. Most cases are resolved through settlement negotiations between the parties involved, avoiding the need for a court trial.
According to figures from the Ministry of Justice, only around 3% of claims reach trial in the UK. Between April to June 2021, there were 395,000 County Court claims, of which 21,000 were personal injury claims. Out of the overall figure of 395,000 cases, only 13,000 went to trial.
Based on reports from NHS Resolution, the insurance company that handles all claims against the NHS, they settled 15,674 clinical and non-clinical cases in 2020/21. Of these, 11,704 were resolved without formal court proceedings, 3,914 with proceedings but without trial, and only 56 (0.3%) went to court.
What affects how many personal injury claims go to court?
As seen in the section above, most personal injury claims settle without going to court and many resolve before even issuing legal proceedings. The main reasons that determine how many personal injury claims go to court include:
- There are liability disputes, and the defendant does not admit responsibility for your accident. In this case, it will be up to a Judge to assign liability based on the available evidence.
- Liability is not disputed, but you cannot agree to your settlement. It will then be for a Judge to decide how much compensation you should receive for your losses.
- If the defendant or their insurer is unresponsive or slow to respond, your solicitor can issue court proceedings. In doing so, the other side will be legally required to respond and appoint a solicitor to represent them.
- If there are no liability disputes, but you cannot afford to cover medical treatments or your living expenses, you could apply to the court for interim payments.
- The strength of evidence supporting the claim can also impact whether the parties decide to proceed to court. If the evidence is compelling and undoubtedly supports your case, it may motivate the defendant to settle rather than risk an unfavourable outcome in court.
- Complex cases involving multiple parties, intricate legal issues, or significant damages are more likely to go to court. These cases often require a thorough examination of evidence, expert opinions, and legal arguments, which can be better addressed in a court setting.
You should keep in mind that even though you initiate court proceedings, there is still a good chance that your case will settle before the trial date.
What happens if my case goes to court?
While most personal injury claims settle out of court, it may be necessary to issue formal court proceedings in certain situations. These include cases that involve liability disputes, damages disagreements, or complex legal issues. If court proceedings are necessary, your case will be presented before a judge who will make a final decision on the outcome of your claim.
During the court process, both parties will present their evidence, witness statements, and legal arguments. Your solicitor will advocate on your behalf, and the defendant’s legal representatives will do the same for their side. The judge will carefully consider all the evidence before making a decision. Once they have reached a verdict, the judge will determine whether you are entitled to compensation and, if so, the amount you will receive.
If you go to court, your case will typically be allocated to one of the following tracks based on its complexity and financial value:
Small claims track
The small claims track is a simplified, cost-effective process for handling low-value personal injury claims. In this case, your compensation is likely under £1,500 (or under £5,000 if the claim is related to a road traffic accident). Cases in this track will typically be resolved at an informal hearing.
The fast track is designed to handle medium-value personal injury claims valued between £1,500 and £25,000 (£5,000 and £25,000 for road traffic accidents). They are subject to a simplified legal procedure and are usually heard within 30 weeks of application. The hearing usually lasts under five hours without requiring any expert evidence.
If a claim is worth more than £25,000 or is particularly complex (even if it is worth less), it will typically belong to the multi-track. These cases involve significant legal and factual issues and require more extensive preparation and court proceedings to resolve.
To find out more about how many personal injury claims go to court and what happens when they do, call 0800 678 1410 today for a free consultation with a legal adviser.
Do I need to be present in court?
Given how many personal injury cases go to court, it is unlikely that your claim will reach trial. Court hearings are rare, but if you cannot settle out of court, you may need to argue your case before a judge. You may need to present evidence to support your version of the events and be available for questioning by the other party (cross-examination).
However, you are not always required to do so. If your claim is valued at less than £25,000 and is allocated to the fast-track, either your solicitor or an appointed barrister can represent you. If your claim has been assigned to the multi-track and is worth more than £25,000, you might need to attend the hearing and respond to questions about the incident and how your injuries have impacted your life.
If your case ends up in court, your solicitor will be there to provide constant support throughout the process. They will prepare you for any questions you might face and guide you through what you need to do. Contrary to how movies and TV shows may depict court proceedings, your experience in court will be much more composed and controlled.
Will there be a jury?
No. In the UK, personal injury claims are assessed in a civil courtroom and are typically decided by a judge with no jury. That is known as a bench trial. Juries are generally only used in criminal cases and are not commonly involved in civil claims.
Although they can be stressful, personal injury court hearings are usually described as less tense than anticipated. Some claimants even find satisfaction in having their claim determined by a judge. The judge will assess the evidence, listen to witness statements, and apply the relevant laws to decide on liability. They will also determine the compensation award you should receive if your case is successful.
Will my claim take longer if it goes to court?
Yes, if your personal injury claim goes to court, it will likely take longer to resolve compared to settling the claim out of court. Court proceedings can be more time-consuming and involve various legal processes. The gathering of evidence and scheduling of hearings may extend the timeline of your case from months to potentially years.
It is essential to note that each personal injury case is unique, and how long it takes to resolve a claim can vary based on the specific circumstances and the parties involved. In some cases, going to court may be necessary to achieve a fair outcome. In others, settling out of court may be quicker and more advantageous.
Why do most personal injury claims not go to court?
There are several benefits to settling a claim out of court, including:
It saves time and money
Settling out of court is usually quicker and less expensive than going to trial. Court proceedings can be lengthy and involve significant costs, including legal fees, expert witness fees, court fees, and other related expenses. Settling out of court can help avoid these additional time and financial burdens.
It offers certainty and control
By settling, both parties have more control over the outcome. They can negotiate the settlement terms, and the agreed-upon amount is the exact sum you will receive. In contrast, taking your case to trial and leaving the decision in the hands of a judge can be uncertain and unpredictable.
It is less stressful
Going to court can be a stressful and emotionally taxing experience for all parties involved. Settling out of court allows for a more amicable resolution, reducing the emotional strain and allowing the parties to move forward more quickly.
You can resolve your claim faster
Choosing to proceed with a trial can significantly prolong the duration of your case from months to potentially years. If you seek a quicker resolution and wish to receive compensation promptly, settling your claim may be the best choice.
You can enjoy more privacy and confidentiality
When a personal injury case goes to trial, the court proceedings become part of the public record. If you prefer to keep the details confidential, you should settle without going to court. This way, you can maintain the privacy of your personal information and the specifics of your case.
How can a No Win No Fee personal injury lawyer help me?
Now that we have discussed how many personal injury claims go to court, you may wonder how a solicitor can help you during the claims process. There are plenty of benefits to using an experienced lawyer to claim compensation, including:
- They will be able to represent you if your case goes to court
- Handle all communication on your behalf
- Review any settlement offers from the defendant with you
- Help you collate evidence to build a strong case
- Arrange a free independent medical review for you
- Conduct negotiations on your behalf to secure the maximum settlement possible
The solicitors we partner with will offer you a 100% no win no fee agreement if your case has merit. This arrangement means you do not have to pay them anything upfront for legal representation. You only pay your solicitor a success fee of up to 25% of your compensation if your case is successful.
Your lawyer will also secure After the Event (ATE) insurance on your behalf. The ATE is a type of legal expenses insurance that will cover all your costs if the claim is unsuccessful, including the defendant’s expenses.