15 May 2019

Popular Misconceptions and Myths in Personal Injury

Have you ever been injured in an accident that was not your fault, but been put off claiming because of things you’ve been told or things you are unsure of yourself? You are not alone, so we thought it was about time for some clarification.

Covering common queries from what counts as negligence to when you should use a solicitor, Paul Morpeth, one of our personal injury specialists, is here to set the record straight.


1. Compensation culture

When people talk about personal injury they often refer to the UK having a ‘compensation culture’ where it’s easy to get some ‘compo’ from a bit of ‘whippy’. However, a few years ago the Government concluded that there was no such compensation culture in the UK only the misconception that it existed. The Government is keen to encourage this view, but its own statistics show that the number of claims has in fact fallen in the last year…


Source: Government Compensation Recovery Unit

In addition, when people see risk assessments and warning signs, they often view them as ‘health and safety gone mad’ or as excessive red tape stopping businesses from operating, or people from having fun. In fact, the rules and regulations are there to protect people such as to ensure that work equipment is properly maintained, preventing faults and making sure workers are given suitable protection when working in dangerous areas. 

People also think of solicitors as ‘money grabbing lawyers’, whereas, for most personal injury claims, solicitors are entitled to fixed costs regardless of how much time and effort is put into the case. Until a few years ago, solicitors could recover a success fee from the defendant at the successful conclusion of a case, however, the Government changed the law and stated that any deduction had to come from their client even if their case was successful. On the other hand, if the case is unsuccessful then the solicitors will nearly always not get paid for all the work they have undertaken.


2. Accidents v Negligence

Many people think that they are entitled to compensation if they have an accident, regardless of whether anyone was responsible. However, this is not the case and a person seeking compensation must prove that someone else is at fault or has been negligent in causing the accident.

To do that, solicitors must look at all the evidence which is available in connection with the accident such as witnesses/photographs/accident reports and risk assessments. Once this has been obtained and reviewed, advice can be given on the prospects of the claim succeeding.

For an initial guide to whether you have a claim to make, please visit: Can I Claim?


3. Never accept 1st offer / John down the pub got more than me

When discussing the possible amount of compensation that a client will receive, these are two common responses. Therefore, it is important to know how the compensation you receive, in particular for your injuries (referred to as general damages for pain, suffering, and loss of amenity), is calculated.

Solicitors, and ultimately Judges, begin by considering the Judicial College Guidelines, which set out the brackets of reasonable awards based on the area of the body injured and then by the severity of the injury. For example, a fractured wrist requiring a plaster or bandage for a few weeks and virtual recovery within about 12 months should be awarded £3,090 - £4,160. From there, solicitors will research similar cases which have been decided at court to argue whereabouts in that bracket the case should fall.

Many people are shocked at how little some injuries ‘are worth’, however, this is how our legal system has assessed them. In relation to not accepting first offers, more often than not the other side’s first offer is too low as it is a starting point for negotiations, however, some are pitched sensibly, reasonably and sometimes generously, so in those cases we would advise settlement.


4. Can my employer sack me if I make a claim?

Your employer cannot dismiss you from your employment simply for making a personal injury claim against them. However, they can take disciplinary action against you if they allege you were responsible in any way, so it is important that the initial accident report is completed accurately along with any photos, witness details or other evidence obtained by the health and safety representative. This will obviously also be useful for pursuing your claim.

For more information see the related article Can I Be Sacked After an Injury at Work on our website.


5. Why use solicitors when the insurance company will sort it out

There are many occasions when the defendant’s insurance company will contact you directly and tempt you to take a quick settlement or offer to deal with your claim for you.  We would always recommend that this be avoided, because you can never know that you are receiving the correct amount of compensation, and once you accept their offer, you cannot go back for more if your injuries take longer to recover than you first thought.

However, if you have legal expenses insurance with your insurer (home or motor), they will say that they will deal with your personal injury claim on your behalf.  In addition, you can’t be sure that you are getting full, independent legal advice or whether there is conflict between you and the defendant. It may well be that both of you have the same insurance company or have insurers who are linked to each other. 

If this occurs, can you be confident that they are purely acting in your best interests? If you instruct a solicitor such as Winns, then you can be reassured your case is being dealt with to ensure you receive adequate and fair compensation for the injuries and losses you have sustained as a result of the accident. At Winns, if you do have legal expenses insurance, then we will normally match the terms of the policy; so, for example, we will not deduct a success fee from the compensation you receive.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers provides guidance for speaking to insurers at: Questions to ask your insurer.


If your query isn’t dealt with here, or you would like to investigate making a claim, please get in touch with us on 0800 988 6288 or request a Chat or Callback from this page.

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