Compensation Jargon Buster

Contents

At Hayward Baker, we know that making a personal injury claim can be daunting. There is plenty of legal terminology associated with the process, which can be confusing for the uninitiated.
 

We are committed to providing straight-talking legal advice, so we’ve compiled the following glossary to help you understand any terms or phrases you might not be familiar with.

Advocacy

Advocacy refers to the process of a solicitor appearing in court to present your claim on your behalf.

ATE Insurance

After the event (ATE) insurance is an insurance policy that you can take out after an accident has happened and you have decided to make a claim. If you lose your claim the insurance company will pay your opponent’s legal costs and disbursements.

BTE Insurance

Before the event (BTE) insurance is often added to motor and household contents insurance policies either free or for a small fee. Some credit cards have BTE insurance but it can also be taken out as a separate insurance too. BTE Insurance may pay for your legal costs when making a claim whether you win or lose. Your solicitor will be able to check the terms and conditions of any BTE insurance you have and inform you of what it can and cannot cover.

Claim

This is your demand for compensation for the injuries you have suffered.

Claiming benefits

When an accident causes you to have time off work, you are likely to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from your employer, who may ask for proof of your illness/injury such as a self-certificate or doctor’s certificate.

If you are disabled because of an accident at work, then you could claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit immediately. Alternatively, you may be entitled to benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which is a government benefit for people who are unable to work due to illness or disability.

Conditional Fee Agreement

This is a contract between you and your solicitors under which your solicitor will not get paid for their work unless you win your case. However, you will still need to cover your opponent’s fees if you lose. You can protect yourself against this possibility with ATE and, possibly, BTE insurance.

If you’ve suffered an accident at work Hayward Baker is here to help. Contact us today to find out how we can take your personal injury claim forward.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence refers to situations where the injured person is partially at fault for (or has contributed to) the accident which caused their injuries.

Counterclaim

A claim your opponent makes against you in response to your claim.

Damages

This is the money you receive as compensation for your injuries. This is either awarded by a court at a hearing or through a settlement agreed with the responsible party before getting to court.

Disbursements

Money paid out on your behalf while the claim is ongoing. This can include court fees, experts fees, accident report fees, travelling expenses.

Finally

‘Finally’, means that your opponent:

  • Is not allowed to appeal against a court decision; or
  • Has not appealed in time; or
  • Has lost any appeal.

Formal offer to settle

A formal offer to settle your claim is when your opponent offers to pay a compensation sum rather than have the case decided by the court. You can accept this and end the case or reject and let the court come to a decision.

Future losses and expenses

It is possible to claim compensation for future financial losses you are likely to suffer as a result of your injury. This can include being unable to return to work or having to take a job with lower pay. Any ongoing medical costs will also be considered in this part of your claim.

General damages/pain, suffering and loss of amenity

General damages is compensation awarded to reflect the pain, suffering and decline in quality of life caused by your injury. In some cases, this will be extended to compensate for any disadvantage you may have in getting a job following the injury and to cover the disappointment of having to give up a job you enjoyed, if your injury makes it impossible to return.

The amount of compensation awarded is largely based on the medical evidence to support your injury. Each case is assessed on its unique circumstances, but previous cases can be used to help estimate what you can expect.

Interim damages

Money that the court orders your opponent to pay, or they offer to pay, while awaiting settlement or the court’s final decision.

Interim hearing

A court hearing that is not final and will be followed by a final hearing once all of the necessary evidence/information is available.

Liability

Proving liability is the core element of any personal injury claim, and refers to the process of proving another person or organisation was responsible for your injury. In some cases, the other party is only partly responsible, meaning a smaller amount of compensation is payable.

Limitation date

If you have suffered an injury that was someone else’s fault, you must start court proceedings within three years of the accident occurring. If you make a claim after this period, the court is likely to consider it as out of time and reject the case. It is possible for exceptions to be made, but you would need to consult your solicitor for further information.
Compensation for criminal injuries has a two-year time limit and there are various different time limits for injuries abroad.

Litigation Friend

You can be appointed as litigation friend to make decisions about a court case for either:

  • an adult who lacks the mental capacity to manage their own court case either with or without a solicitor
  • a child

You will have to go to court if there’s a hearing, but you can’t act as the other person’s lawyer.

Lose

To lose a claim means it has been dismissed by the court or you have stopped it on your solicitor’s advice.

Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) is a ministerial department of the UK Government headed by the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (a combined position). The department is also responsible for areas of constitutional policy not transferred in 2010 to the Deputy Prime Minister, human rights law and information rights law across the UK.

Other side/opponent/third-party defendant

These are terms used to describe the organisation or person against whom you are claiming compensation.

Personal injury

In legal terms, a personal injury is a physical and/or psychological injury for which a person, company or organisation is fully or partly to blame. When you suffer such an injury, the party at fault is legally obliged to provide compensation.

Personal injury compensation

Compensation is money given to compensate for the effects of an injury – physical or psychological – that wasn’t your fault. Money can be awarded to cover specific costs, such as medical treatment and money you have lost out on through not being to be work, and also to compensate for any damage to your quality of life.

Provisional damages

This refers to money that the court orders your opponent to pay, or they agree to pay, on the basis that it allows you to go back to court at a future date for further damages. This is normally if your condition deteriorates or you develop a serious disease that is proven to be linked to your personal injury claim.

Reduction in damages

If the accident that led to your injury was partly your fault, it is still possible to make a successful claim, although the amount of compensation will likely be lower than if another party was fully responsible. For example, if you had a car accident and were not wearing a seatbelt, the amount of compensation might be reduced if wearing a seatbelt would have meant the injuries suffered were less serious. This is known as contributory negligence.

Compensation can also be reduced if your opponent can prove that you did not take steps to minimise your losses when possible. This could include something like not getting the recommended medical help or failing to return to work when capable.

Special damages/expenses and losses

Special damages is compensation awarded to cover direct costs you have been forced to pay or money you have missed out on as a direct result of your injury. This can include the cost of medical treatment, travel expenses and loss of earnings if you’re unable to work. The aim of this money is to try to ensure your finances are in the position they would have been had the accident not occurred.

It is always helpful to keep receipts or other documentary evidence for any of these costs, as this evidence makes it much easier to prove the loss and claim the money back.

Success fee

A success fee is a percentage of basic charges that your solicitor will add to your bill if your claim is successful.

Trial

The final contested hearing for your claim. A reference to a claim concluding at trial can include those settled after a trial has commenced or a judgement has been given.

Whiplash

Whiplash injury is one of the most common side effects of a road traffic accident. It is caused by the rapid deceleration experienced when a car crashes, which causes the head and neck to jerk violently.
In the case of a road traffic accident, the neck and head are forced forward into hyper extension as a person’s body is held tightly by a seat-belt. As the body recovers the head and neck are then placed in a hyper flexed position.

This movement can cause damage to the soft tissues, such as the muscles, tendons and ligaments which help the neck move. Whiplash is therefore often considered to be similar to a sprain.

Many people are under the impression that whiplash injuries only occur when a car is hit from behind, however the same damage can occur when the head is jerked to the side. In other circumstances whiplash injuries can also be sustained because of rapid acceleration, a fall from a horse or bicycle or a sudden blow to the head sustained when taking part in a contact sport.

Win

To win a case means the judgement has been made in your favour. This could be by a court ruling or reaching a settlement with the other party.

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