Personal injury glossary

Accident – where a person is physically or psychologically injured, either intentionally or unintentionally by another person, object or environment.

After the event (ATE) insurance – an insurance policy taken out after an accident to fund a claim for compensation, covering any adverse costs.

Association of British Insurers (ABI) – an organisation that works with the government and regulators to ensure that sufficient standards are met by the insurance industry.

Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) – an organisation dedicated to improving the legal services provided to victims of personal injury.

Before the event (BTE) insurance – an insurance policy sometimes available as part of car insurance, household insurance, travel insurance and/or credit card facilities which can fund a personal injury claim.

Barrister – the advocate who presents a claim on behalf of a claimant in court. This person can also be consulted during a claim for further advice.

Causation – the relationship between the mechanism of the accident and the injury suffered. To be successful, a claimant must satisfy both liability and causation.

Civil procedure rules – the rules which govern the process of pursuing a personal injury claim.

Claim form – one of the important documents required for the issue of court proceedings. This provides details including the parties involved and the anticipated value of the claim.

Claimant – the injured person who makes a claim for compensation.

Client care letter – solicitors will provide this correspondence at the outset of a personal injury transaction. It introduces the firm, provides information about the work to be carried out and details the costs.

Conditional fee agreement (CFA) – the funding arrangement also known as a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement.

Contributory negligence – the reduction in compensation reflecting the extent to which a claimant was responsible for an accident.

Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) – the government department that pays welfare benefits.

Counsel – see ‘barrister’.

Counterclaim – a claim brought by the defendant against a claimant if injury or financial loss are caused by their actions.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) – the government funded scheme providing compensation to injured victims of crime.

Damages – compensation awarded to a claimant in a successful personal injury claim, consisting of general damages (see below) and special damages (see below).

Defence – a statement from the defendant in response to the claimant’s version of events.

Defendant – the party who a personal injury claim is made against.

Directions – the timetable set by the court and followed by both parties to prepare for a final court trial.

Disbursements – fixed costs incurred in the personal injury process which are paid by the defendant, defendant’s insurers or defendant’s solicitors. For example, fees for obtaining medical notes, medical report fees and court fees.

Disclosure – the process during court proceedings where both sides provide relevant documents to each other.

Fast track – a claim where damages do not exceed £25,000.

General damages – compensation for injuries suffered.

Identification – as of 1st March 2004, to comply with the Money Laundering Regulations, solicitors or licensed conveyance must obtain identification from a prospective client. This is usually a copy of a passport or driving licence and a recent utility bill.

Interim payment – compensation received by a claimant before a claim is finalised.

Judgment – a decision of the court.

Law Society – the representative body for solicitors in England and Wales.

Legal expense insurance (LEI) – See ‘before the event insurance’.

Liability – the legal responsibility for an accident.

Limitation – the time limit by which a personal injury claim must be settled, or court proceedings issued.

Litigation friend – a person appointed to deal with a claim on behalf of a minor or someone with a disability.

Medical expert – a person who provides a medical report documenting the injuries suffered by a claimant in an accident.

Ministry of Justice (MOJ) – the body that is responsible for the justice system of the court.

Minor – a claimant who is under the age of 18 years.

Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) – a national association of solicitors representing victims of road traffic accidents.

Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) – a scheme funded by the insurance industry which enables a claimant who is injured by an uninsured or untraced driver to still receive compensation.

Multi track – a claim where damages exceed £25,000.

Notice of funding – one of the important documents required for the issue of court proceedings. This provides details of how a claim is being funded.

Part 36 offer – an offer to settle a claim made by either the claimant or the defendant.

Particulars of claim – one of the important documents required for the issue of court proceedings. This provides details of the accident circumstances and the allegations made. It also contains any medical evidence and details of any special damages.

Personal injury pre-action protocol – the procedure which governs the conduct of a personal injury claim, prior to the issue of court proceedings.

Rehabilitation – treatment received by a claimant to assist their recovery, such as physiotherapy.

Settlement – the agreement made to pay compensation.

Small claims track – a claim where damages do not exceed £1,000.

Solicitor – a personal injury claim is often undertaken by a solicitor who acts on the behalf of a claimant or defendant. Always check on the Law Society website that your solicitor has a practising certificate.

Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA) – the independent body of the Law Society of England and Wales that regulates all solicitors.

Special damages – compensation for expenses incurred such as travelling expenses, loss of earnings or the cost of medical care.

Success fee – the percentage increase of a solicitor’s legal costs.

Trial – when a claim proceeds to a final hearing at court.

Welfare benefit – the benefits that can be claimed by an injured person in the UK.