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Personal Injury legal glossary – UK compensation advice

Some of the terms used when dealing with personal injury claims in the UK.


Claims Connection is owned and managed by TO BE CONFIRMED a No win No fee specialist law firm. If your claim involves medical neglect – please use our claim time limit calculator to find out whether you can claim.




ASBESTOSIS CLAIMS – Compensation for exposure to asbestos in the workplace

ADVOCACY – This is when a solicitor or barrister acts on your behalf during court / tribunal proceedings.

ARTICLE 75 – Relates to Motor insurance claims specifically where an insurer is allowed to exempt itself from certain Road Traffic Act obligations due to a breach of contract under the terms of the insurance policy that they provide.

AUTOMATISM – “State of Automation” Acting reflexively, not under conscious control. Automatism may be a defence against a criminal charge, but not if the defendant was responsible for the situation that gave rise to the automatism see R v Quick (1973).


BARRISTER – A barrister is a legal professional with who specialises in the representation of clients in a court or a tribunal.

BILL OF COSTS – see “Costs” below.

BURDEN OF PROOF – In English law the burden of proof lies with the prosecution; in terms of making a compensation claim YOU have to prove that the defendant or alleged responsible party was negligent in causing your injuries.

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CLAIM – Your demand for financial compensation for damages relating to your personal injury and subsequent losses (These can include earnings, vehicle related losses, care, services etc).

COMPENSATION RECOVERY UNIT (CRU) – The section within the Department of Work & Pensions responsible for recovering benefits paid to an injured party as a result of another negligence. They recover the cost of the benefits from the insurer and now also recover the hospital fee for emergency treatment. DWP Site.

CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE – Until 1945 it was a complete defence to a claim of negligence that the claimant was himself to blame, even slightly, for the loss or damage he suffered. As a result, a person who was badly and obviously wronged could end up losing out completely in bringing a claim. The Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act (1945) eliminates the defence of contributory negligence, and in its place gives the courts the power to reduce the award of damages in proportion to the claimant’s share of the blame. For example in cases where no seat belt is worn by a person suffering facial injuries in a car accident, the courts have the power to reduce damages by up to 25%. This is known as contributory negligence.

COSTS – Costs are incurred by your solicitor from the moment he/she takes control of the case. In most personal injury matters costs will be recovered in full from the losing party (defendant) and in almost all cases will be paid by an insurer for that party. A number of different elements form the bill of costs – including success fees, disbursements and time spent which is calculated on a hourly unit basis.

CONDITIONAL FEE AGREEMENT – In very brief terms this is the formal term for a no win no fee agreement. These agreements (which usually take the standard form laid down by the law society) allow a solicitor to act on your behalf when there is no other form of funding (ie legal aid or legal expense insurance) available. More here on “No win No fee”

COUNTERCLAIM This is when the defendant or person you hold liable for your injuries and loss, makes their own claim against you in response the action you have brought. This is an unusual situation in personal injury law.

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DAMAGES – the “remedy” or monetary award received by way of compensation at the end of a claim for pain and suffering and consequential / other losses arising from the matter.

DISBURSEMENTS – These are the payments made on your behalf by your solicitors. These include, but are not limited to court fees, accident report fees, expert witness costs, the solicitor’s/barrister’s and travelling expenses. In the vast majority of cases these amounts are recovered from the losing party at conclusion of the claim.

DUTY OF CARE – this is of huge importance and has a wide legal meaning depending on the nature of the case being brought. In very brief terms a duty of care is the obligation that a sensible person would have in the circumstances when acting towards others and the public. If the actions of a person are not made with care, attention, caution, and prudence, their actions are considered negligent. Consequently, the resulting damages may be claimed as negligence in a legal action.


EXAMINATION – Following a claim for personal injury you must prove your case by supplying medical evidence to support your request for damages. Medical evidence is usually provided by an expert doctor following an examination. The subsequent report is used as evidence.


FAST TRACK – The English & welsh legal system is split into 3 tracks for personal injury compensation claims. The Small track for cases below £1,000, the Fast Track for cases between £1,000-£15,000 and the Multi Track for cases exceeding £ 15,000. The Fast Track system incorporates the vast majority of personal injury actions.

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GENERAL DAMAGES – his describes the award made to compensate the claimant for pain & suffering, loss of amenity. (The injury element of the claim)


HIGH COURT – In the UK, the High Court hears most serious civil cases, and appeals from the county courts. It is divided into three Divisions: `Queen’s Bench’, `Family’ and `Chancery’.


INDUSTRIAL DEAFNESS – Claims are possible for industrial deafness caused by the working environment

INTERIM PAYMENTS – These payments relate to early awards that are made on account of final damages. The amount paid is usually deducted from the final award agreed in settlement.


LETTER OF CLAIM – The initial letter that is sent to the negligent party that sets out clearly the basis on which the claim is being made.

LITIGATION FRIEND – Any claimant under 18 years of age must have a ‘Litigation Friend’ to pursue the case on their behalf. Usually this will be the parent or guardian unless they themselves caused the injury or were negligent and in some way involved in the action.

LAW SOCIETY – The regulatory body in the UK for all qualified solicitors. Law Society website although main regulatory duties now also controlled by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

LEGAL AID – Now generally termed public funding where an individual can obtain funding to pursue a claim. The funding is granted by the Legal Aid Board and is based on a persons means. This is now only available for a limited number of personal injury actions such as medical negligence. The vast majority of claims fall under the  Access to Justice Act 1999 and will be subject to “no win no fee” (conditional fee) rules.

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MINOR – Any person / claimant under the legal benchmark age of 18 years. As described above, “Minors” need to pursue any claim with the help of a Litigation Friend.


NEGLIGENCE – In order to claim personal injury another party must be responsible in law or at least partly responsible for the actions that led to the injury being sustained. This may be because they have been plainly negligent and perhaps because they are in breach of some statutory duty owed to you. Negligence involves breach of a duty of care owed to you by the other party. The injury / loss must have been sustained as a direct result of the breach and it have been foreseeable that it would occur given the particular circumstances. See the groundbreaking case of Donoghue v Stevenson (1932).

NO WIN NO FEE – See Conditional Fee agreement above


PERSONAL INJURY – This is the simple term given to pain & suffering caused to an individual. There is a huge area of law dedicated to the practice and management of personal injury legal actions in the UK

PERSONAL INJURY PROTOCOL – This is the court action protocol set out within the civil procedure rules to try and assist the parties in reaching a negotiated settlement without having to issue court proceedings. It sets out basic timeframes and outlines the conduct expected from both sides involved in a case. It was one of the key elements introduced by the much lauded “Woolf Reforms” introduced in 1999.

PART 36 OFFER – This is the mechanism introduced by the Woolf Reforms that enables BOTH parties to make offers of settlement that might be considered binding should the case ever get to court. These offers are to be treated very seriously because swingeing penalties can be imposed by the courts if a case is brought before a judge following the rejection of a “reasonable” Part 36 offer. They carry the weight of a payment into court.

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QUANTUM – The agreed value of any claim – the amount of compensation.


SOLICITOR – A solicitor is a legally qualified individual who has a general duty to advise their clients on matters of law in the UK. They are fully regulated by the Law Society (see above)

SUCCESS FEES – The costs award that a solicitor is entitled to claim in successful no win no fee actions. This amount is effectively a bonus representing a percentage of costs (up to a maximum of 100%) which is usually paid by the responsible party. Some agreements can include deductions from compensation to cover the success fee but this is not something we adopt as part of The Claims Connection service.

SEATBELT LAW – Failure to wear a seatbelt carries a fine of up to £500, but no points will be endorsed on your licence. A fixed penalty notice will usually be issued, allowing you the option of paying a £30 fine. If a personal injury is suffered as a consequence of not wearing a seatbelt following a car accident – damages may be reduced for contributory negligence From v Butcher (1976)


THE CLAIMS CONNECTION – UK based comprehensive legal advice website on matters relating to compensation


VIBRATION WHITE FINGER VWF – Vibration White Finger or VWF (now referred to as Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome – HAVS)

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Please also read our personal injury medical glossary

If you think you might have a claim for compensation call now for immediate assistance. Our team are ready to help 8am-8pm 7 days.

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