For many of us, the thought of having a claim brought to court can be worrying as it is something we know little or nothing about, except for what might be portrayed in films and TV programmes.
A personal injury claim is a civil claim and, as such, very few personal injury claims ever reach trial, although some can come very close before settling. It is estimated that 3% or less of personal injury claims end up at trial, where you may have to attend court. Many claims settle before they are even issued at court, and many settle shortly after being issued. Some can even settle on the day of the trial!
Why would my claim go to court?
The main reasons claims are issued at court are:
- Limitation has been reached. This is the three-year deadline for bringing a claim, from the date of the accident, or date of knowledge in cases where an injury develops over time (or, where the injured person is a child, three years from the date of their 18th birthday). This is known as ‘issuing protectively’ to ensure you don’t lose the chance to complete the claim.
- To focus the minds of defendants or defendant’s representatives who are unnecessarily delaying the claim or being unresponsive.
What else do I need to know?
Once your claim is issued at court, the court imposes strict deadlines on each step of the process towards trial. It is extremely important that you work with your solicitor to ensure that everything they ask for is provided and that any meetings required are attended, such as with your barrister, if you have one.
If your claim does go to trial, it is very likely you will have to attend. In most cases you will be represented by a barrister whom your solicitor has instructed and who will be very knowledgeable about your case and the law. Your solicitor and barrister will guide you through the process and will answer all your queries and concerns.
In the UK, a civil claim will not be heard by a jury, only a judge. Judges and other court staff know that attending court can be very daunting and will do their best to put you at ease. It is unlikely that there will be anyone in the public gallery.
Unless your claim is a very complex one, a trial would only last one or two days.
If you have any worries about any part of the court process, ask questions. You could even go and observe other cases at your local county court to get an idea of what to expect.
Our personal injury solicitors here at Stephensons have a great deal of experience and can answer your questions about any part of a personal injury claim including how to start and what to do at each stage, including issuing court proceedings and potentially attending court. If you would like to speak to a a member of our specialist team call us on 0161 696 6235.
By Angeline Holmes, paralegal