What happens when I start Court Proceedings for a Personal Injury Claim?
In Personal Injury claims, it may be necessary to start Court proceedings for a number of different reasons. This can include but is not limited to the following:-
- The 3 year Limitation Period is approaching and it is necessary to protect the claim from becoming statue barred.
- Liability is denied for the claim and we need to issue Court proceedings.
- Liability is admitted for a claim but the parties cannot reach an agreement on the value of the claim.
What is the process?
- A Claim Form needs to be drafted setting out the names of the parties and what the Claimant considers to be the value of the claim.
- A document called the Particulars of Claim will also be drafted setting out details of the accident, why we consider the said Defendant/s is/are liable for causing the accident and details of medical evidence and any out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
- Attached to the Particulars of Claim will be any medical-legal reports which the Claimant intends to rely on and a Schedule of Loss detailing any out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the accident with receipts and any supporting documentation.
- The Claimant’s Solicitors will gather together all of the above documentation and then send this to the Court to issue the Claim Form. The Court will then send back a Notice of Issue.
What are the time scales with a Personal Injury Court Case?
Once the Notice of Issue has been received from the Court, Court proceedings will need to be served on the Defendant within 4 months of the date of issue.
In some cases the medical evidence may not be finalised and in such cases, the Claimant will need to state in the Particulars of Claim that further medical evidence needs to be obtained.
Once Court proceedings have been served on the Defendant/representative the Defendant has a period of 14 days to file an Acknowledgment of Service with the Court which confirms they are in receipt of the papers and then a total period of 28 days in which to file their Defence. In the majority of cases, the Defendant Solicitor will ask for a short extension to file their Defence and it is reasonable to allow for up to 28 days in accordance with the spirit of the CPR (Civil procedure Rules).
Once the Defence has been received, the Claimant Solicitor will consider the same and then shortly after the Court will send a document to the parties to Allocate the case to either the Fast Track or Multi Track. The Fast Track deals with claims up to £25,000.00 and Multi Track deals with cases above £25,000.00. The parties will be required to complete a document called a Directions Questionnaire and attached to this proposed Draft Directions as to how to move the case forward. The parties should try and make every effort to see if an agreement can be reached in regards to the timetable.
As part of the proposed Directions, it will be necessary to put in place provisions for exchange of disclosure documents, which is named Standard Disclosure and exchange of witness evidence.
It will be necessary to draft a very clear witness statement from the parties which will need to be exchanged as part of the Court Directions. The parties will review the evidence and at this stage, if liability is denied for example, then the parties will consider the risk of the case going to Trial or whether it is sensible to consider any settlement negotiations and making Offers in an attempt to settle the claim.
During this time Offers may be made by one or either side. If an agreement cannot be reached then the case will move forward to be prepared for Trial. It will be necessary for the parties to file a document called a Pre-Trial Checklist with the Court and the Claimant Solicitor needs to draft a Trial Bundle Index detailing all documents that will be included in the Trial Bundle which needs to be agreed by the Defendant Solicitors.
It can typically take a Court to list a Trial six months or after to set a Trial Date.
Once the Trial Bundle Index has been agreed, the bundles will be made and filed with the Court and the Defendant and the Trial will be listed.
In the majority of cases, cases tend to settle before the Trial. However, some cases will go all the way to Trial.
During the Trial, typically a Barrister will be instructed for the Claimant and another for the Defendant. The Barrister for the Claimant will prepare an opening speech and all witnesses relevant to the case who have been called to attend Trial will give their evidence in the witness box and there will be an opportunity for them to be crossed examined. Once all of the evidence has been heard and the Barristers have prepared their closing submissions, the Judge will take time to make a decision and will then call the parties back in to read out his or her Judgment.
A Trial could take as little as 3 hours for a straight forward case or as much as 3 days or more for more complex cases.
I have had a number of successes at Trial this year. The Solicitors at Hodge Jones & Allen are experienced to ensure that a case is ready for Trial and well prepared. If you would like further advice please call our specialist personal injury team on 0808 252 5231 or request someone to call you back online.