Claiming compensation for a personal injury

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

If you want to take legal action to claim compensation for a personal injury, you will need to get advice from a solicitor specialising in these types of cases. This must be done as soon as possible as there are strict time limits on taking legal action.

Time limits

There are different time limits within which you must begin legal action in a personal injury claim. You should get legal advice urgently if you want to claim compensation.

The most common claim in a personal injury case is negligence and the time limit for this is 3 years. This means that court proceedings must be issued within 3 years of you first being aware that you have suffered an injury.

In some cases, a court may decide to extend a time limit, depending on the circumstances of the case. 

Legal action for compensation for a personal injury can be expensive. You might be able to get help with legal costs from a conditional fee agreement or an insurance policy - many house contents policies, car insurance or travel insurance policies have legal expenses cover attached.

Conditional fee agreement

A conditional fee agreement means that your solicitor will receive no fees if you lose your case. You may, however, have to pay the legal fees and expenses of the other side. Your solicitor will normally ask you to take out insurance to cover this situation. If you win your case, your solicitor's fees and expenses will normally be paid by the other side.

If you had a road accident that wasn’t your fault

If you had a minor injury, you might be able to claim compensation for free and without legal help using the Official Injury Claim service. The accident must have been on or after 31 May 2021.

You can contact the Official Injury Claim service on the Official Injury Claim website.

Choosing a solicitor

If you want to take legal action over a personal injury you should consult a solicitor who is a member of the Law Society’s personal injury accreditation scheme or clinical negligence accreditation scheme, depending on the nature of the injury. The Law Society can give details of solicitors on these accreditation schemes and can be contacted at:

113 Chancery Lane



Tel: 020 7242 1222

Fax: 020 7831 0344



Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL)

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) is a not-for-profit association of solicitors, barristers and academics who specialise in personal injuries work. Many lawyers belonging to APIL are part of an accreditation scheme.

The accreditation scheme guarantees members are competent in a particular field of personal injury. Accredited lawyers from senior litigator level upwards have at least five years' experience of dealing with personal injury claims.

All APIL members promise to follow a code of conduct and a consumer charter. They may be useful in helping you find a solicitor who can deal with your case. You can find out more about APIL at:

3 Alder Court

Rennie Hogg Road



Tel: 0115 943 5400



Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS)

The Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) is an association of solicitors experienced in dealing with personal injuries resulting from motor accidents. Participating solicitors provide a free initial consultation. MASS can be contacted at:


C/o Corrigan Accountants Ltd

1st Floor

25 King Street



Tel: 0117 925 9604



Motoring organisation members

If you have sustained an injury as a result of a traffic accident and you are a member of a motoring organisation, for example, the AA or RAC, you may be able to get specialist legal advice through that organisation.

Trade union members

If your injury resulted from an accident, unsafe working practices or discrimination at work, contact your trade union if you are a member. The union may instruct solicitors to take legal action on your behalf and you will not have to pay for this.

If you're the victim of a violent crime

You can find out about claiming compensationon GOV.UK. 

If you've already made a claim but are unhappy with the result, you can find how to appeal on GOV.UK.

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Page last reviewed on 22 February 2020