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Personal Injury And Legal Aid

21 Oct 2020

One of the main concerns that clients have about pursuing any type of legal claim is how much this might cost you financially. Therefore, many people are curious about whether you can receive legal aid when seeking damages in a personal injury case. In order to answer this it is first of all important to understand what legal aid is.

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What Is Legal Aid?

If you would like to press charges against someone or you seek damages against someone but you cannot afford to pay for a solicitor, then you could be able to use Legal Aid. Legal Aid is essentially a system where the government provides money to help pay for your legal case. The finances for your case come from the Community Legal Services Fund (CLS) and it is administered by the Legal Aid Agency.

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Legal Aid And Personal Injury

Legal aid is unfortunately not available for personal injury cases. Therefore, your solicitor should outline the cost of your case at the start of the process.

You should discuss whether your case can be paid for through a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement when you first meet with your solicitor. If you enter into a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement, you will only have to pay the solicitor’s legal costs if you win the case. You should discuss whether your case can be paid for through a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement when you first meet with your solicitor if you are not offered this.

If you enter into a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement, you will be responsible to be pay your Solicitors basic charges , any expenses and/or disbursements and a success fee together with a premium for any insurance you may take out ( see below of further details regarding insurance). However, you will only have to pay these costs if you win win your case.

In England and Wales the law is that the losing party pays the winning party’s costs.  Therefore should you be successful in pursuing your claim, you are entitled to seek recovery of your basic charges and expenses and disbursements incurred as a result of pursuing your claim from your opponent.  You cannot recover the success fee and any insurance premium from your opponent and the ‘ no win , no fee’ agreement will usually state that these amounts will be deducted from any damages you receive.

If your claim is unsuccessful then you will not have to pay your solicitors charges unless you are in breach of any of the terms of your ‘ no win , no fee agreement’ .  You will normally also have the benefit of what is known as Qualified One-Way Cost Shifting which means that you will not have to pay your opponents costs unless the court orders you to do so.  A court could order you to pay your opponents costs if one the following occurs:

  • the proceedings have been struck out;  or
  • the claim is fundamentally dishonest; or
  • the claim includes a claim for the financial benefit of someone else.

Certain ‘no win, no fee’ agreements still state that the client has to pay other costs if the case is lost, such as:

  • Court fees.
  • Fees to pay for experts, such as a medical expert who will create a report.
  • Travelling expenses to and from court or medical appointments etc.

However, you won’t always have to pay these costs if you do not win your case. It simply depends upon the terms of your ‘no win, no fee’ agreement as specified through your contract with your solicitor. The terms of your ‘no win, no fee’ agreement should be clearly and carefully determined by speaking to your solicitor who should outline their financial expectations in great detail. If you do not understand anything, you should make sure to ask and clarify until you are completely sure before you sign any contracts.

You can take out what is known as an After the Event Insurance policy which protects you from having to pay any of these expenses should your claim be unsuccessful.  As mentioned above, if you take out an insurance policy then you will be responsible for the cost of this premium. The premium for the policy is usually only payable when your claim is successful and your Solicitor should ask you to agree to this being deducted from any damages you receive. Not all cases will require an insurance policy and your Solicitor should assess whether they think that you should take out a policy and advise you accordingly.

Your solicitor should provide you with details of their charges and an estimate of your legal costs at the start of the process. If you need further advice about taking legal action or hiring a solicitor, you could speak to a Citizens Advice Bureau.

Time Limit

There is a time limit for personal injury cases. If you would like to make a claim against a business, employer or an individual, you have three-years from the date that the initial accident occurred. Therefore, you should speak to a personal injury solicitor as soon as possible to ensure that you can claim.

As previously stated, if you win your case in a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement, your legal fees will be paid for through compensation. To understand how compensation is calculated, you should read on:

Making Personal Injury Claims

If you have suffered a personal injury, you may be entitled to receive compensation. First Personal Injury solicitors are available to assist you and ensure that you win the compensation that you deserve.

First Personal Injury work with both families and individuals across England and Wales, leading them on their legal journey and helping them claim compensation after an accident or injury. Contact our specialist team to begin the process, either by phone on 0800 808 9740 or through our online form.