When you bring a claim for either personal injury or clinical negligence one of your main concerns might be whether or not your case will go all the way to trial. Going to trial can be a daunting thought, the idea of standing in front of a Judge and having the Defendant’s pick your case apart can be very stressful.
There are various views on going to Court, those of us who are naturally litigious may have the opinion that the best way to resolve a claim and get the compensation that you are entitled to is to go to Court. Others may have the opinion that by avoiding Court you are doing the right thing, settling out of Court reduces the cost of the claim and the risk of losing and the stress is noticeably lessened.
It is impossible to say in this article if going to Court or not is the right decision for you. Each case should be weighed on its own merits. But it should be said that going to Court does not guarantee you a larger sum of compensation should you win your case and settling outside of Court does not mean you have settled for less.
Very Few Cases Go to Court
If you are the Claimant (the person bringing the claim), then it is your responsibility to prove your case. This could mean attending Court to give evidence. All cases have the possibility that they will end up in Court and you should be aware of this right at the start of your claim, that further down the line you could find yourself standing in the witness box in front of the Judge answering questions from the Defendant.
However, that being said, very few cases go to Court, approximately 80% – 95% of claims settle outside of court. This means you are far more likely to negotiate with the Defendant and reach an agreed sum than you are to go to Court and fight it out in front of a judge. I have been working, full-time in the legal field since 2010, I have worked on over hundred personal injuries, and clinical negligence cases and less than five of these cases have gone all the way to trial.
You Should Still Prepare For Court
Despite the likelihood that your case will not reach a final hearing at the Court, you should always keep in mind that it might, and you should prepare your case accordingly.
This means always working to a high standard and following the Pre-Action Protocols which are effectively the Court’s rules on how a claim should be brought. Keep in mind that every letter you write, every email you send, every telephone conversation you have with the Defendant may end up in front of a Judge and temper your words accordingly. If you are using a solicitor to bring your claim, then you can be slightly less reserved as anything said between you and your solicitor is subject to solicitor-client privilege and will only go in front of a judge under extremely rare circumstances.
What Happens if You Do Go To Court
Most people find the prospect of attending Court to be nerve-wracking and it is commonly accepted to be an anxious experience. But giving evidence is not as unsettling as it can seem when portrayed on television, in books or newspapers. If your case proceeds to Court and you are called upon to give evidence, then you will have your witness statement to aid your memory. You will be questioned by the Defendant’s barrister, but it is very unlikely these issues will surprise you as they will have raised their points in earlier correspondence. It is also worth noting that the judge will be aware that while they might do this for a living, you do not, and you will be nervous.
As said above the majority of claims for personal injury are settled before they reach Court. Many Defendants do not want the additional expense and adverse publicity associated with a Court case. It may be necessary to Issue Proceedings at Court (send in a claim form and lodge your claim with the Court), but this does not mean you will be attending Court, your claim is still more likely to settle even after Proceedings are Issued.
In conclusion, while you should always keep it in mind during your claim that you may have to go to Court it is unlikely that it will happen. It is far more likely that after you obtain your medical evidence and produce your witness statements that you and the Defendant will negotiate a settlement.