The most common personal injury claim made in the UK is for whiplash experienced during a car crash. In fact, 78% of all personal injury claims in the UK are for this type of injury.
Claims are so frequent that the Telegraph has even labelled Britain the 'whiplash capital of Europe'. However, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), nine out of 10 of these claims are fraudulent.
Knowing that the volume of whiplash pay outs has added £90 to the average cost of a car insurance policy incites an element of frustration in those who have never claimed or who are, in fact, honest claimants.
With 1,500 whiplash-related personal injury claims made daily, insurers are calling for the government to enforce tougher laws making claimants provide diagnostic proof of their injuries. This strict approach is based on the fact that while whiplash claims have rapidly risen, the frequency of car crashes has not. However, proof (in terms of MRI scans, for example) is not yet a legal requirement, so as it stands now, almost anyone can make a claim.
To halt this growing trend, on 1 April the government introduced changes to the 'no win no fee' policies, which has greatly changed how claims are now funded in the UK. As you would expect, a 'no win no fee' policy means you don't have to pay legal fees unless the case is successful. But under the new laws, while you still won't have to pay any upfront fees, you'll be charged a 'success fee' if you win your case up to 25 per cent of the damages you're awarded. This is expected to work as a deterrent for people making fraudulent claims.
But while particular people give personal injury claims a bad name, there are thousands of others out there who legitimately need and deserve to file for a pay-out. If you're one of these people and you want to proceed with making a claim, then here's what you need to do:
- Find a qualified solicitor with a history of successful personal injury claims.
- Establish the details of your case. This can mean providing details of your injuries, any medical diagnosis and/or treatment you've received, proof of loss of earnings, and details of any witnesses, as well as the date of the accident and how it actually happened.
- Once your solicitor is happy to proceed with the case, they will send a claim letter to the defendant outlining the circumstances that has taken place. The defendant then has a chance to reply to the letter. If they take responsibility for the injury, then your solicitor can try to settle the matter out of court. But, if they deny the liability then you can take them to court.
- Once you have been given an official date of the hearing, it's up to your solicitor to prepare your case and let you know if there are any preparations you need to make.
However, before you go to court, you need to consider legal costs. Changes to personal injury claim laws means that legal aid no longer applies to these types of cases. If you win it's likely that the defendant will be required to pay for your legal costs, but it you're using a 'no win no fee' arrangement, then remember that you'll need to pay the solicitor's 'success fee'. If you lose your case, you may be required to pay the other side's legal costs, and whether you win or lose, you'll still need to pay for charges such as witness fees.
If you'd like to make a claim but are unable to do so yourself, then you can appoint someone else to act on your behalf. People under the age of 18 or those unable to claim due to the extent of their injury are considered 'protected parties' and can select a 'litigation friend' to act on their behalf. However, whether you're physically able to claim or not, you can still elect an 'authorised representative' through written permission to claim for you.
However you sustained your injury, whether through a car accident, using a faulty product, having an accident at work or medical negligence, if you feel that you deserve compensation then you can make a personal injury claim. But it's good to prepare beforehand to know to expect, and to find a qualified solicitor to assist you.
If you want to know more, then take a look at the injury claims section of our website.