V. Legal procedures involved in personal injury proceedings
In all cases it is advisable to consult solicitors who are experienced in dealing with accident compensation claims and they will advise whether your intended claims have any merit. Your solicitors will also handle all the legal procedures involved in the personal injuries proceedings for you.
Personal injury litigation is no different from any other form of litigation. The parties should present their case to the court for its determination. The judge will act as an umpire and make decisions after considering the evidence and hearing the arguments from the opposing parties. The losing party will normally be ordered to pay the costs to the winning party. The costs are the expenses that the winning party had to spend on the preparation and hearing of the matter, including their expenses for the solicitors and barristers representing them. The amount of these costs can be substantial, depending on the complexity of the case, the work required for preparation of hearing and the length of the hearing.
Through the Personal Injury [Practice Directions], the courts now have increased authority to monitor the progress of personal injury litigation, and take an active role in case management and measures to control undue delay. Further, with the introduction of the Civil Justice Reform, effective from 2nd April 2009, the implementation of far stricter case management and pre-trial steps to promote mediation and settlement are in place. Strict timetables have to be adhered to at every step in the process, whilst a letter before action has become mandatory in personal injury litigation. The regime is now strict and those who fail to comply with each and every step of the process may face direct fines or other additional costs.
For your general reference, in the following sections we briefly provide in a nutshell some of the legal procedures involved in typical personal injury proceedings. In general, personal injury proceedings are governed by Practice Direction 18.1 which can be downloaded from the Judiciary website. Litigation is the last resort in a dispute and the parties involved are always encouraged to explore ways to reach an amicable settlement of their cases by using methods such as without prejudice correspondence and mediation.
Some important legal documents and procedures are highlighted as follows: