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  • Civil claims arise from disputes between individuals or companies which are resolved by the Courts. For example, somebody injured in a road accident may bring a claim for compensation against the individual who caused the accident. Such claims are dealt with by the Civil Courts as opposed to criminal matters such as drink-driving, theft, assault etc. which are dealt with by the criminal courts.

  • Civil and criminal law is divided into that which arises from specific legislation, such as the Road Traffic Act 1988, and law that has arisen from the decisions of the courts over time. This latter type is known as the common law. Under the common law certain people owe a duty to others. For example, those who drive on the road owe a duty to other road users not to drive in a way that might cause injury to others.

  • Agreements between a solicitor and client relating to the payment of the solicitors costs in order to fund your injury claim. The agreement will normally provide that the solicitor will work without payment from the client unless the solicitor is successful in recovering compensation for the client. At this point the solicitor would normally recover his fees from the losing party together with an additional ‘success fee’ for taking the risk of acting without payment in the first place. These agreements are often called no win no fee agreements.

  • Claims for compensation normally rely on the common law of negligence. For example, a car driver owes a common law duty to other road users to drive carefully. In the event of an accident, however, often more than one person is at fault because they have been negligent. In those circumstances, the Court can apportion blame between those involved. This is most often expressed as a percentage. For example, if each party was equally to blame the apportionment of contributory negligence would be 50% to each party.

  • The term damages is normally used to refer to compensation that a person is entitled to receive. It is often divided between general damages for the injury suffered, and special damages, which are the other financial losses and expenses that relate to the accident and injury.

  • An accident causing the death of one or more of those involved.

  • This term is normally used to refer to the method by which a solicitor’s costs are to be paid. For example, funding by a conditional fee agreement or by legal expenses insurance.

  • Claims for damages are normally calculated in relation to those losses and expenses that occurred up to the time of the settlement of the claim or trial, and those that will occur after that date. The latter losses and expenses are referred to as the future loss. This may typically include claims for future loss of income and the cost of future care and accommodation.

  • In claims for compensation, it is often possible to secure payment of part of the award prior to the final settlement of the claim. These payments are generally called interim payments and can be important in providing day-to-day living expenses if the injured person cannot work, or for covering the cost of medical treatment.

  • A legal expense insurance policy help pays for a solicitor’s fees when acting for you in certain circumstances. Many people have legal expenses insurance which has been provided, for example, together with a motor or house insurance policy, or through a credit card, trades union or motoring organisation such as the AA or RAC. Such policies often cover the legal fees involved in bringing a claim for compensation in the event of a serious injury. Your solicitor will guide and assist you in investigating whether you have this type of cover.

  • When somebody is injured they are often unable to work while they recover from their injuries. If the injury is serious they may never return to their pre-accident employment or perhaps never be fit for any sort of paid work again. As a consequence of any of these situations the injured person will suffer a loss of earnings. The precise nature of the loss will depend on the circumstances. Loss of earnings can be ‘claimed for’ losses that have already occurred and those that may occur in the future.

  • Following a serious injury, the individual will be admitted to the hospital under the care of a consultant relevant to the type of injury. On discharge from hospital medical care will often continue to be provided via the hospital outpatients department and/or GP. The written records produced during treatment are important evidence of the nature and extent of an injury, however, in order to prove the existence and extent of an injury, your solicitor will need to instruct an independent medical expert. This would not be the same person who provided the treatment in hospital. In serious injury cases often more than one expert is instructed and they may well be asked to produce more than one report if recovery takes a long time. A medical expert will examine the injured person, consider the medical records and then produce a written report. The written report will stand as evidence in the claim. Getting the right medical experts is vitally important.

  • A scanning machine that enables highly detailed pictures of the brain and other parts of the body to be taken. MRI uses a strong magnet rather than X-rays.

  • A breach of the common law duty of care will often be an act of negligence. For example, if you drive on the road in a dangerous manner that will be considered negligent. Such action will only give rise to a claim for damages if, as a result of that negligence, somebody is hurt. There must be a clear link between the negligent behaviour and the injury.

  • See conditional fee agreement.

  • Following a serious injury, initial medical care will be provided by the hospital. Once discharged from the hospital, however, the injured person will very often have an ongoing need for treatment or therapy to assist them in making the fullest recovery possible. This work is often done by occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists and neuropsychologists, etc. This part of a person’s treatment is often referred to as the rehabilitation process.

  • Following the start of a claim for compensation following a serious injury, your solicitor will often arrange for an immediate needs assessment. This assessment will be performed under the rehabilitation protocol that most specialist solicitors and major insurance companies have agreed to. The protocol provides that the assessment of the immediate needs is intended only to provide assistance in the injured person’s rehabilitation and not to produce evidence that might be used in any subsequent court proceedings. Therefore, unless both parties agree otherwise, the content of the assessment of the immediate needs cannot be used in court.

  • In the same way that the common law can impose a duty, a similar type of duty can be imposed by an Act of Parliament, otherwise known as legislation. For example, to drive in excess of the prescribed speed limit would be a breach of this statutory duty. It would also potentially be a breach of the common law duty to drive carefully. Breaches of statutory duty can in themselves provide an entitlement of compensation, but only if the cause of the injury is linked to the breach of duty.