Injury & Accident Compensation Resources
No Win No Fee Personal Injury Claims In The UK
Making a No win No fee personal injury claim in the UK
If you have suffered a personal injury in the UK as a result of an accident, you may wish to pursue a compensation claim against the party who was responsible for causing you harm.
It is now extremely easy for most people to access a personal injury solicitor or lawyer to help with their claim. You no longer have to find a high street solicitor who would be willing to take the case on, you can simply log on to any search engine and find a wealth of firms willing to provide a free ?no win no fee? claims service.
You should always ensure that you instruct an approved no win no fee accident solicitor.
The term ?no win no fee? is often used and seldom understood. It applies to a number of different business sectors nowadays and this can sometimes confuse the issue because the arrangement may vary from one business area to the next. This article as the title suggests relates solely to the subject of personal injury compensation in the UK and specifically England & Wales (The Law in Scotland is rather different and they have yet to fully embrace the ?No win no fee? concept)
Prior to legislation implemented in (the Access to Justice Act 1999) 2000 anyone who wished to pursue a personal injury action would be able to apply for Legal Aid (now know as Public Funding). This would be subject to means testing but would enable the less well off to have access to the legal system and to pursue a claim that would otherwise never get off the ground. However, this was an extremely expensive way of funding such actions and the Government withdrew Legal Aid for accident related injury claims in 2000.
In its place they introduced the no win no fee concept which in the UK is operated by the implementation of a ?Conditional Fee Agreement? or CFA. The CFA document sets out the terms upon which a personal injury lawyer / solicitor will agree to deal with the claim on behalf of the claimant or injured party. It also sets out the obligations of both parties which for the claimant, generally include the necessity to provide clear instructions and to cooperate fully during the life of the claim. If you wish to pursue a claim for injury damages in the UK you must sign one of these agreements before your lawyer will legally be able to deal on a no win no fee basis.
The Law Society of England & Wales devised a standard CFA document that the vast majority of solicitors now use. The CFA will confirm that the acting solicitor will not charge the claimant (injured party) any costs if the case is lost. However there may be other bills that might have to be paid such as doctor?s fees or other expert witness charges.
There is also the prospect of a bad day in court where a claimant could lose at trial and be forced to pay the costs of the defence. You must insure yourself against this risk and your acting solicitor needs to explain the need for insurance before you start the claim. (the insurance is known as ?after the event? cover)
If all of this sounds daunting, don?t be too disheartened. If you simplify the process it really is not too complex:
? IF YOU WIN YOUR CLAIM
Your reasonable legal fees will be paid by the losing party?s insurer
Your disbursements such as expert witness fees, medical records fees etc will also be reimbursed. (most law firms will defer payment of any such fees and not request these expenses up front)
You will receive your compensation / damages which will include out of pocket expenses and where appropriate future losses. These monies should be paid in full ie 100% (see below)
? IF YOU LOSE
You do not have to pay your solicitor / lawyer in respect of any legal costs they have incurred.
You may have to pay for disbursements but these should have been covered by the insurance policy referred to above.
If the case has been litigated you may have to pay your opponents costs but these again should be covered by the insurance policy.
On the subject of the compensation award itself, most reputable law firms in the UK now ensure that all successful claimants receive 100% of their compensation. This means that there are no deductions at the end of the claim from you final award. If you are in discussions with a firm that is seeking to deduct a percentage of your award, whilst this may be legitimate, it may not be the best option for you. Why lose a percentage of your award when you don?t have to?
The changes in legislation made since 2000 have been enormously beneficial in providing access to justice for all. Genuine claims that would not have been progressed a few years ago, can now be pursued without costing the injured party any money. This is all down to the No win No fee concept which, whilst not perfect, has bee hugely successful in providing compensation for innocent accident victims.
For more information about the use of CFA?s in the UK and the No win No fee concept please visit the official Law Society website at http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/home.law or the Legal Services Commission at http://www.legalservices.gov.uk/.
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