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When faced with the aftermath of an injury, the road to recovery can be daunting, as can the path through the legal system. A common concern we see from our clients is whether their claims will require court proceedings; understandably, an appearance in court can be stressful. In the vast majority of cases, court proceedings are not necessary to reach a resolution with settlement agreements achieved through negotiation. However, if an agreement cannot be made, the court may need to get involved.

Whilst it may be difficult to tell you whether or not your claim will go to court without first assessing the unique circumstances of your claim, we hope to give you the best idea of the reasons it may be required and what can influence this outcome.

Here, the personal injury experts at Ramsdens Solicitors provide general insight into the frequency with which personal injury claims in the UK proceed to court, explore the factors that influence this and discuss the steps involved both before and during litigation. Whether you're at the outset of filing a claim or are already navigating the process, this guide will shed light on what you might expect and how to prepare.

How often do claims go to court?

Statistics from 2021 show that between April to June 2021, a total of 396,000 claims were issued in the County Court, of which 21,000 cases related to personal injury claims. This figure represents a reduction in the number of issued County Court claims on the same period in 2019 (from 465,000 to 395,000).

Between April to June 2021, the total number of trials heard by the County Court was down to 13,000, a reduction of 14% when compared to the same period in 2019.

It is therefore clear from the statistics that the number of cases on which court proceedings need to be issued, and that then proceed to trial are becoming less and less.

What determines whether a personal injury claim goes to court?

The complexity of a case is often the key factor involved in how long the claims process takes and whether it goes to court. Straightforward cases are typically resolved without the need for a court hearing. However, when a case involves complex details or numerous liable parties, and it can require a judge’s decision.

In a similar vein, if the party responsible for the injury disputes the claim or the extent of their liability, the personal injury case is more likely to go to court. This is especially true for cases where the financial stakes are high, as is often the case with large claims that include long-term care or significant loss of earnings. In such instances, the defendant, often backed by insurers, may try to contest the claim.

Insurance companies often have established procedures for handling claims and may push for a court hearing if they believe it could limit the compensation payout, particularly if the evidence is ambiguous. This is where the strength of the evidence, and the support of a solicitor in helping to build your case, can be pivotal. Robust, indisputable evidence may lead to a quick settlement, while questionable or contested evidence might only be resolved through a court trial.

If your claim is in the negotiation phase and an agreement cannot be reached, your solicitor will likely recommend court proceedings as a way to move the claim along and secure the compensation you need. While you may be nervous about the prospect of this, it is always better to claim as much compensation as possible as it will go a long way in supporting your recovery, and a lower amount may leave you with unpaid or accumulated expenses that you will struggle to cover. As well as securing appropriate compensation, court proceedings can lead to a resolution where negotiations have failed.

What is the process of a personal injury claim before court proceedings become necessary?

Initially, the process of making a personal injury claim begins when you contact a solicitor - such as the personal injury experts at Ramsdens. Your solicitor will assess your circumstances and explain everything you need to know about the process ahead. If you decide to proceed with your claim, it will be necessary to compile evidence to support your argument, which can range from witness statements and CCTV footage to accident reports and medical records. It's a meticulous process that lays the foundation for the claim, with the aim of establishing a clear narrative of what happened and who is liable. Your solicitor will help you through this.

You may have to undergo medical examinations to assess the extent of your injuries and to project any long-term impacts on your health and lifestyle. This medical evidence not only substantiates the claim but also helps your solicitor to calculate the compensation you may be eligible for.

After the evidence is gathered and the claim is valued, attempts at settlement are made. This is where the negotiation skills of our solicitors come into play. Settlement discussions are delicate and strategic, often involving back-and-forth offers between the involved parties.

Where negotiations fail, the process may move to mediation - the process where a neutral third party (the mediator) assists the disputing parties in reaching a settlement. This step is beneficial as it offers a structured environment for negotiation but with the flexibility that allows for creative solutions that might not be available in a court setting.

Throughout these stages, the objective is to find a resolution that compensates you fairly without the need for the stress and uncertainty of a court trial. Your solicitor will guide you through each step, ensuring that you understand your options and the potential outcomes.

What are the benefits of settling without court proceedings?

Settling out of court is often simpler, and court cases can be stressful, confrontational and emotionally draining. A settlement provides closure and allows the claimant to avoid the anxiety of a public trial and the unpredictability of a court verdict.

Settling a claim also offers a degree of control that a court trial does not. When parties opt for a settlement, they can negotiate mutually agreeable terms. This process allows for flexibility and creativity in resolving the dispute, often leading to solutions that a court may not be able to legally provide.

Time is another critical factor. Court processes can be lengthy, sometimes taking years to conclude. Settling early can significantly reduce the time it takes to resolve a claim, and provide the claimant with quicker access to funds that may be necessary for their recovery and rehabilitation.

At Ramsdens Solicitors, we are committed to achieving the most favourable and expedient outcomes for our clients. We understand the value of settling claims out of court and strive to negotiate the best possible terms, to ensure that each of our clients can focus on their recovery with the security of a fair settlement in hand.

If you are facing a personal injury claim and are uncertain about the process, Ramsdens is here to help. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case and approach personal injury claims on a no win, no fee basis, meaning you are at minimal financial risk when you decide to pursue compensation with us. To learn more, simply call us today on 01484 821 500, or fill out an online contact form to arrange a time for us to call you back.