Personal Injury Claims
Below is a list of common words or terms you may encounter when making a compensation claim. If you need more information and wish to discuss your injury please contact a member of our Personal Injury Claims Team or telephone 0845 603 1057. To make a personal injury claim click here.
Claimant – the person bringing the action.
Compensation Recovery Scheme – a scheme under which the Compensation Recovery Unit may recoup, from a Claimant’s damages, benefits he has received as a result of his injury/disease.
Compensation Recovery Unit - a Government department who may recoup, from damages, benefits paid to a Claimant as a result of their injuries/disease.
Conditional Fee Agreement – an arrangement under which a legal claim may be funded whereby the Claimant’s solicitor will only be paid if the claim is successful. If the claim is unsuccessful he will not be paid which is why they are sometimes referred to as “no win, no fee” agreements but it is important to understand that this is just a name and not necessarily an accurate description of the agreement itself. Where the claim is successful then the solicitor is entitled to be paid not only their basic costs but also something known as a success fee, which is effectively a percentage mark up on the solicitor’s basic costs.
Contributory Negligence – very rarely this is a complete defence but usually a partial defence to a claim for damages. The Defendant is able to prove that the Claimant’s own negligence directly caused or contributed to his injuries/losses. In other words the Defendant proves that the Claimant was at least partly responsible for the accident. Where contributory negligence is proven, the damages are reduced by whatever percentage liability falls upon the Claimant. If, say, liability is split equally (in other words 50/50) between the Claimant and Defendant then the Claimant’s damages are reduced by 50%, being the Claimant’s share of liability.
Coroner – a Royal Officer whose duty is to enquire, in particular circumstances, into the manner of a person’s death. See Coroners, Postmortem Examinations and Inquests.
Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority – a Government organisation that may compensate people who have been physically or mentally injured because they were the innocent victim of a violent crime.
Defendant – the person against whom the action is brought.
Disbursements – an expense incurred by a solicitor for goods/services in the course of your claim.
General Damages – in the context of a claim for injury or disease, general damages are a sum to compensate the Claimant for the pain, suffering, injury to health and personal inconvenience caused to them.
Infant Approval Hearing – the Court have to approve any proposed settlement where the injured victim is a child under the age of 18. Approval requires a Court Hearing often referred to as an Infant Approval Hearing.
Inquest – an enquiry held by a coroner as to the death of a person. See Coroners, Postmortem Examinations and Inquests.
Legal Expenses Insurance – an insurance policy which pays or contributes towards a Claimant’s legal costs. Generally speaking there are two kinds of policies. Before The Event Legal Expenses policies are taken out by the Claimant before they even know they have a claim and, typically, may form part of a Claimant’s motor insurance or perhaps their domestic contents household policy. Alternatively there is After The Event Legal Expenses Insurance which is taken out only after the Claimant realises they have a claim. Cover provided varies from policy to policy, but whether the policy is before or after the event, it may include such things as the Claimant’s own legal costs, his disbursements, the other side’s legal costs and the other side’s disbursements.
Liability – establishing a legal obligation and that that legal obligation has been breached. In the context of an accident/injury/disease claim it means proving that your accident/injury/disease was at least partly someone else’s fault. If you cannot prove this then you cannot claim.
Limitation – every claim has a limitation period or a limitation date. This is the period within which or the date by which a claim must either be settled or proceedings issued. In the context of an injury/disease claim the limitation date will be 3 years from the date when the injured person knew or ought to have known that they had a claim. So in the case of an accident, for example, the limitation period will usually be 3 years from the date of the accident itself. In the case of a child, however, the 3 years cannot start to run until the child achieves adulthood, in other words their 18th birthday, therefore limitation for a child claiming for injury/disease can be no earlier than the child’s 21st birthday. However be aware that there are shorter periods within which, for example, a claim must be brought under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme or when claiming in some foreign jurisdictions.
Loss of Amenity – an element of a general damages award and usually included within the general damages award. It is compensation for the loss of comfort/convenience/quality of life caused by the Claimant’s injury/disease and takes into account the particular circumstances of the Claimant’s case, his lifestyle, hobbies, pastimes, work and so on. Generally speaking although injuries may be similar between Claimant's the affect of those injuries can be markedly different depending on each Claimant’s personal circumstances. By way of example the loss of amenity suffered by a keen amateur athlete who breaks his leg is going to be very different to the loss of amenity caused to someone with an identical injury but whose favourite pastime is watching the television.
Motor Insurers Bureau – a body established to compensate the victims of negligent uninsured and untraced motorists.
Pathology – the study of disease including but not limited to carrying out post mortem examinations.
Periodical Payments – sometimes compensation is paid in a lump sum, but sometimes it is paid in the form of regular payments over a period of time and these are known as periodical payments.
Postmortem Examination - a medical examination of a corpse in order to discover the cause of death. See Coroners, Postmortem Examinations and Inquests.
Provisional Damages – on rare occasions damages may be awarded on a provisional basis, where a lump sum is paid but with the proviso that the Claimant can come back later for more compensation if they develop complications with their injuries.
Quantum – the amount of damage suffered. In the context of your accident/injury/disease claim this means how much your damages should be.
Special Damages – a phrase sometimes used to describe the Claimant’s financial losses arising out of their injury/disease. Therefore special damages may include, for example, loss of earnings, medication expenses, transport costs and so on.
Third Party – a description sometimes used for the other driver involved in a car accident.
Third Party Insurers - a description sometimes used of for the insurers of the other driver involved in a car accident.