Going to Court -
Personal Injury Cases
Instigating court proceedings is supposed to be a last resort and is a major step in any personal injury case. However, a case should not simply hang around waiting for someone to respond.
Court proceedings should not be issued until any ‘Protocol Period’ for the other side to respond has expired. There can be good reasons for delaying going to Court, but if there are meaningful negotiations taking place then it would generally be wrong to issue Court proceedings.
What if I have not recovered from my injuries?
If you have not recovered from any injuries it may be premature to try and settle the personal injury claim or go to Court.
Is there a deadline for making a personal injury claim?
Proceedings must be brought within a certain deadline known as the limitation date. For personal injury claims this is 3 years from the date of the accident or date of knowledge of significant injury, whichever is the later, unless you were under 18 or not of sound mind at the time, in which case it is 3 years from you reaching 18 or achieving sound mind. For most other types of claims (such as breach of contract) the deadline is 6 years. Personal Injury Claims can be brought outside of these periods, but we strongly recommend you seek expert advice first and as soon as possible if you are in this situation.
How do I start a Claim for Compensation?
Court proceedings have to be issued on a Personal Injury Claim Form, which can be obtained from any County Court. A fee will have to be paid, although people on low income can apply for exemption. We can prepare the Personal Injury Claim Form for you and cover the court fees on your behalf as these fees should be recovered from the Defendants at the conclusion of your case.
Once proceedings have been issued they must be served on the other side within 4 months where they are based in England and Wales, and 6 months if outside of this. If you fail to serve them then the Claim automatically fails. You can ask the Court to serve them, but if it goes wrong it is your responsibility.
Once a claim has been issued and served the other side have 14 days from service to Acknowledge Service and 28 days from service to file a Defence. You can agree to let them have more time if you wish. Once a Defence is filed the Court issues Allocation questionnaires to the parties and takes over control of the progress of the case. You will have deadlines to provide information to the Court and the Court will issue Directions on what steps need to be done to prepare the matter for trial and when. Where Directions are given you must try and comply with these. If you cannot comply you should tell the Court about it and why as soon as possible as failure to do so could result in your claim being struck out.
Sounds easy? The conduct of litigation is governed by the Civil Procedure Rules and qualified lawyers study for years to gain the necessary experience to conduct litigation. Get it wrong and it could cost you lots of money. There is no substitute for using a lawyer who knows what they are doing and most lawyers will have an initial discussion on your case without charge if it goes no further, so it costs nothing to get an idea where you stand.