No Win No Fee Claims
What does no win no fee actually mean?
The no win no fee system was introduced in 1995 to help people who otherwise couldn't afford to hire an injury lawyer. Under a no win no fee agreement (also known as a Conditional Fee Arrangement, or CFA), there are no upfront legal fees, which means anyone who has been involved in an accident that wasn't their fault, rich or poor, can gain access to justice without any financial risk.
What happens if the claim is won?
If your no win no fee claim is successful, you will be awarded compensation. This compensation will be made up of two separate parts: general damages and special damages.
General damages cover the pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by the personal injury. This money is to compensate for any past, present and future pain, physical or psychological, and, if applicable, loss of ability to carry out everyday tasks. All judges who oversee personal injury cases receive a copy of the Judicial College's book "Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases", which provides guide amounts for different types of injuries. For example, for fractures to the forearm, the book quotes a guide compensation amount of between £5,390 and £15,510. Claims4Free's no win no fee solicitors will be able to provide you with a rough estimate of the compensation you should expect to receive.
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Special damages are easier to calculate, and cover any expenses that are incurred as a result of the personal injury. These expenses could take the form of lost earnings for any time taken off work, or if unable to return to work at all, future loss of earnings. Also covered will be things like car repairs, travel costs, medical fees, car hire, and any other expenses that are a result of the accident.
Due to changes governing the no win no fee system, which came into effect in April 2013, injury solicitors are no longer allowed to claim their 'success fee' from the losing party. This fee is now usually paid out of any compensation, but can be no more than 25% of the amount awarded. However, general damages have been increased across the board by 10% to help offset these changes. Any personal injury solicitor will make clear before taking on a case what percentage of the compensation will be taken as a success fee.
What happens if the claim is lost?
The term "no win, no fee" gives a good indication of what to expect if the claim is unsuccessful - there are no fees to be paid to the no win no fee lawyer. However, the losing party is usually liable for the legal costs of the other side. In most cases, these costs are met by something called After the Event (ATE) insurance, which will be taken out at the start of the no win no fee claim if the solicitor feels there is a chance of the case being unsuccessful. This means that there is no need to worry about having to pay any hefty legal fees in the event of a lost claim.
Do I need a no win no fee solicitor?
Personal injury solicitors are a key part of the no win no fee process. Especially when it comes to no win no fee cases, it is important to know exactly what a solicitor can do for you in your time of need. These are three of the most common questions personal injury victims have about working with a no win no fee solicitor.
No win no fee solicitors are great because they truly fight for your cause. Due to the unique pay structure, they want your case to be as successful as possible. In addition, they have decided to specialize in the area, making them experts at UK injury law.
One of the best things about working with a no win no fee solicitor is that there is absolutely no risk. The chance of you slipping into further financial instability is completely eliminated. Why? Simple. If you are unlucky enough to lose, you will not be responsible for paying your solicitor fees.
Time limit for making a no win no fee claim
According to the Limitation Act 1980, there is a three year period from the time of the accident in which to start a claim for no win no fee compensation. However, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule. In some cases, the personal injury may not become apparent until weeks, months, or even years later. For example, someone who worked with asbestos may not develop symptoms of an asbestos-related illness for 30 or 40 years. In situations such as this, the three-year time limit applies from the date when the victim becomes aware of the injury or illness.
Another exception to the rule is when the injured person is under the age of 18. There are two options in this situation:
- A relative or guardian can act as a 'litigation friend', and take legal action on behalf of the child, or...
- The injured child can make a claim when they turn 18 years old, with the three year time limit starting on their 18th birthday.
There are also very rare occasions when a judge may allow a claim to proceed even if the three year time limit has expired, but we always advise that you start your claim at the earliest possible opportunity.
History of no win no fee claims
Below is an overview of the history of no win no fee, with the most recent changes first:
|Date||Explanation of changes|
|1st April 2013||The changes enacted in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 come into force, meaning in cases launched after this date, no win no fee solicitors can no longer claim their success fee from the losing side.|
|1st May 2012||The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 receives Royal Assent, bringing in wide ranging changes to Legal Aid and personal injury law.|
|October 2010||A report for the Prime Minister called "Common Sense, Common Safety" is written by Lord Young of Graffham, looking into areas of health and safety and the perceived "compensation culture". Despite stating that "the problem of the compensation culture prevalent in society today is, however, one of perception rather than reality", Lord Young suggests implementing the recommendations of the Jackson Report.|
|January 2010||Lord Justice Jackson publishes his Review of Civil Litigation Costs, also known as the Jackson Report. The major recommendation of the report affecting no win no fee claims is that injury solicitors should no longer be allowed to take their success fee from the losing party, and should instead be taken from any compensation awarded, up to a maximum of 25%.|
|January 2009||Lord Justice Jackson's investigation into the area of personal injury and no win no fee claims gets underway.|
|2008||Master of the Rolls Lord Clarke of Stone-cum-Ebony, the second most senior judge in England and Wales, asks Lord Justice Jackson to begin a review into the costs involved in civil litigation.|
|1st April 2001||The Access to Justice Act 1999 comes into effect, which allows injury solicitors to recover their success fee from the losing party, updating the previous Courts and Legal Services Act 1990.|
|1995||Five years after the enactment of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, the first no win no fee claims are made.|
|1st November 1990||The Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 is given Royal Assent, introducing Conditional Fee Agreements (also known as "no win no fee") for legal proceedings which aren't either criminal or family (divorce, child custody, etc.).|
Before there were no win no fee claims, there was Legal Aid. Eventually, numerous problems were identified with the Legal Aid process and no win no fee compensation claims were introduced as a replacement. Unlike the new system, Legal Aid was exclusive and complex. The simplicity and straightforward nature of no win no fee claims is based on avoiding the bad example set by Legal Aid.
To truly understand how valuable the no win no fee process is, it is important to understand the limitations and restrictions that existed before it was introduced. Here are the two big issues that led to the destruction of Legal Aid.
No win no fee claims are based on the idea that no one should be prevented from seeking compensation for their personal injuries. Legal Aid, however, excluded quite a large percent of the population from its services. By the 1990s, only 40% of the population could qualify for Legal Aid due to restrictions and requirements.
Only those who absolutely needed funding would receive it from Legal Aid. A detailed assessment of income was necessary before someone could qualify for Legal Aid.
After qualifying, the money to fund the personal injury claim was still not guaranteed. Therefore, people who were not well-off financially could not justify using Legal Aid. This, of course, made the entire system completely counterproductive in helping those who could not afford justice.
Legal Aid was funded by the government and it was not an inexpensive service. The yearly expense that the government incurred from Legal Aid was growing exponentially and rapidly, a combination that was unsustainable. In seven years, the cost of Legal Aid tripled to £671 million. Sounds ridiculous, right?
The rising costs meant that taking on Legal Aid cases was hurting legal professionals. In order to keep their businesses running smoothly, they were forced to turn to private work. As a result, even those who qualified for Legal Aid were largely left without solicitors to support their cases.
No win no fee claims were the solution to this growing problem. They provide justice to all personal injury victims, regardless of financial status. There are no qualifications or complex processes. Anyone can afford to make a no win no fee claim. Finally, these claims do not cost the country millions of dollars every year, and there are many no win no fee lawyers who specialize in these claims.
In 2010, the government introduced the Road Traffic Accident Personal Injury Scheme, a fast-track system for road traffic accident claims valued between £1,000 - £10,000. Most claims are settled within six months, and greatly reduce legal costs.
The scheme was expanded in 2013 to include no win no fee claims for road traffic accidents, employer's liability and public liability valued up to £25,000. If your claim falls into one of these categories, and is valued at £25,000 or less, it is likely to be settled quickly.
Making a no win no fee claim
If you want more information, or if you feel you are in a position to make a no win no fee claim, you can call Claims4Free.co.uk on 0800 234 6438, or submit our quick and easy online claim form. Our injury solicitors can help anyone in the UK start the claim process, and get you on the track to winning compensation for your injuries.
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