Key Facts

Personal Injury law can often be found in the same legal team as clinical negligence lawyers. The same principles apply in that a 'claimant' has been injured (or has died) as a result of the actions of the 'defendant' and a claim is pursued to get the defendant to admit 'liability' and pay compensation to help the claimant deal with the consequences of the injury

Law firms that deal with personal injury claims will often be completely claimant focused (so only take on cases where their client is the injured party) or completely defendant focused. 

Examples of personal injury cases may include: 

  • car accidents - frequently a personal injury claim goes hand in hand with a car accident as most often someone is injured during the collision; 

  • trips and slips at work or other forms of accidents at work - this could've been a result of inadequate health and safety measures which has caused harm to a person; and

  • accidents in theatres, restaurants, cinemas, bars etc - any injury suffered as a result of fault of another will give rise to a personal injury claim. 

It is also possible to have 'international personal injury' cases. This is where the claimant has suffered an injury whilst on holiday and when they have returned to the UK they wish to pursue their claim. The claimant will use their English lawyers but as the accident happened in a foreign jurisdiction, it will be that country's law that will be relevant to the claim. 

You'll often hear 'catastrophic' injuries when looking at areas such as personal injury and clinical negligence. Catastrophic injuries are the extremely high value claims often involving 7 or 8 figure sums as compensation. An example of a catastrophic injury could be an individual being hit by a car and the accident causing life long injuries and paralysis. 

What do PI lawyers do?

Personal injury lawyers will investigate the claim made by their client. This will involve:

 

  • interviewing any witnesses and drafting witness statements,

  • requesting and reviewing medical records of the client (often involving multiple lever arch worth of files!), 

  • investigating whether there were any CCTV cameras in the area of the accident and making requests to local businesses to obtain and review the CCTV footage, 

  • instructing experts to help put together an incident report to work out exactly what may have happened and how it happened (re-enact the accident), 

  • interview and advise clients on the merits of their case and provide empathetic support, 

  • instruct medical experts to review the client and assess the client's injuries to understand the magnitude of the injuries suffered as a result of the accident, and

  • preparing letters of claim and commencing the litigation process. 

For a more detailed breakdown of the role of a clinical negligence lawyer (which very much overlaps with personal injury work) click here

Skills required 

  • Excellent people management skills - you'll be working with a variety of people often at extremely emotional times for them so a good level of understanding and emotional intelligence will be required; 

  • genuine interest in wanting to help people and solve their problems; 

  • patience; 

  • good at research as you'll often need to review case law and legislation for pieces of law that are relevant to your client's case and may support (or weaken) it; 

  • interest in personal injury law as you will be required to keep up to date with legislation, regulations and regulatory developments; 

  • good understanding of medical terms - you will be reviewing medical records and sitting in on meetings with medical experts who will often use medical terms that the layman may be unfamiliar with so an interest in medicine is advantageous; 

  • excellent communication skills; 

  • proactive; 

  • organised - in contentious areas of law you are dictated by a court timetable and missing deadlines can have a damaging impact on your client's case; 

  • ability to negotiate - a large part of the role will be negotiating the right amount of compensation for your client. Often, the defendant will not dispute liability but will dispute the amount they have to pay in compensation; and

  • good technical skills and ability to read and interpret complex pieces of legislation.