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The Impact of Costs on Settling Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury claim legal fees are not cheap, and the longer a case goes on, the more expensive the legal fees become.

Who pays for these legal fees can often become a bargaining chip in negotiations to settle, so it is important to understand the role of costs in a personal injury claim.

Disclaimer: This guide outlines general topics you should be thinking about if you want to make a personal injury claim. But it is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should contact a specialist personal injury claim solicitor for guidance on your specific circumstances.

Offers To Settle: What Impact Do Costs Have On Settling Personal Injury Claims?

Deciding who pays legal costs is a big part of any personal injury claim. The defendant can use legal costs to put you under pressure to accept a settlement offer. Because costs can influence your decision to accept or reject an offer, you need to know how they work.

What’s a nightmare scenario when it comes to your personal injury claim?

Well, here’s a contender:

Imagine you win your claim and get awarded compensation. But you are held responsible for costs (fees for solicitors, barristers, doctors, etc.) Turns out the costs are actually bigger than your compensation payment. So even though you have technically won your claim, you lose money.

Talk about getting stung!  

It doesn’t happen often, but it can happen. And the defendant will use the possibility of it happening to pressure you to settle.

Here’s how it works:

How Costs Work In Personal Injury Claim Settlements
Say the defendant makes you an offer of £4,000 during settlement negotiations.

You reject it, thinking you should hold out for a bigger compensation payout.

The defendant sticks to their guns and doesn’t increase their offer.

So off you go to court.

You win the trial, but the judge only awards you £3,700. £300 less than the earlier offer of £4,000.

So you should have accepted the first offer, instead of being greedy and holding out for more.

Because you didn’t accept the first offer, everyone had to trudge off to court for a full hearing.

So it’s only fair that you foot the bill for legal costs from the date the £4,000 offer was made onwards.

Court hearings are the most expensive part of a claim, so your compensation could easily be wiped out by legal fees.

And you could be left with a big bill on top.  

These negotiation tactics are called Calderbank Offers.

Tactics like these are used to try to settle a claim before it gets to court. What we have talked about here is a only a basic guide about how costs work – it can get much more complex than this.

The main thing to remember is: when negotiating a compensation figure for your claim, who pays for costs will always be factor.

Sometimes the offer on the table might not be as much as you would like. But if your solicitor is not confident that you could beat that offer in court, you could be exposing yourself to the nightmare scenario.

If you get an offer like this, it’s time to have a serious conversation with your solicitor. You need to decide if the extra compensation you might get in court is worth the extra risk.

So far we’ve been talking about settling claims. But what if you can’t settle? What if everyone has tried their best, but you just can’t get a settlement figure that’s acceptable to both you and the defendant?

You know what happens next – it’s time to go to court.

So that’s what we are going to look at now.

The above article is part of our guide on how to make a personal injury claim in Northern Ireland.

If you are thinking about making a personal injury claim, you should get in touch with a Northern Ireland personal injury solicitor who will help you assess the strength of your case.

If you have any questions, you are very welcome to get in touch.

All the best,

The Team @ Lightlaw

Every effort is made to keep this guide up to date. Although it is not to be regarded as legal advice, we strive to make sure the information is helpful, accurate and practical. If you are a Northern Ireland personal injury solicitor and have spotted an inaccuracy, you can submit a suggested change.