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Small Claims Court: Determine whether your accident compensation is a small claim and find out how to recover compensation when it is

Small claims court: discover when your personal injury claim is considered a small claim, exceptions to small claims being run in the small claims court, what happens to the legal costs in such claims and when a solicitor should be used to assist you with claiming compensation.

Can a solicitor assess my claim so you know whether my claim is a small claim or not?

When you have suffered a personal injury in accident - it is quite likely that your compensation will be worth over £1,000 in which case you can claim your legal costs of instructing a lawyer and can consider a no win no fee agreement. I can assess your claim online and explain the options that are available to you.

I am a specialist personal injury solicitor and my website offers free legal online legal help - simply click small claims court assessment and I will assess whether your claim is a small claim or not.

What is the small claims court?

Small claims court

small claims court image

The "small claims court" is a slightly misleading phrase as there is no separate small claims court, but one court known as the county court which has different procedures depending on how large a claim is.

The three tracks are the "small claims track", the "fast track" and the "multi track". Claims that are dealt with in the small claims track are often referred to as being dealt with by the small claims court and as the name suggests are the lower value less complex claims.

What are the elements of an accident claim for which compensation can be claimed?

A claim for compensation following an accident is made up of two main parts:

1. Compensation for pain and suffering

Pain and suffering for physical or psychological injury, known as general damages for personal injury.

Click traffic accident compensation to see the page I have written explaining in more detail what these losses are in a typical personal injury claim such as a road traffic accident.

2. Compensation for financial losses

Financial losses include the cost of repair to a vehicle in a car accident or lost income due to incapacitation and are known as special damages.

Click car accident compensation to see examples of special damages in a car accident rta claim.

When should an accident claim proceed in the small claims court?

For an accident claim to be made in the small claims court the following conditions must be satisfied:

1. The claim for pain and suffering for physical or psychological injury should be worth less than £1000; and

2. The overall claim (pain and suffering plus financial losses) should be worth less than £5000; and

3. A claim should not be considered to complex - if the claim is of low value but is a medical negligence claim or a personal injury claim involving a child then it is unlikely even if the claim is worth less than £1000 that the claim will be allocated to the small claims court and such claims are considered too complex.

TIP Some claims might seem of low value, but so far as physical or psychological injuries are concerned it is always worth speaking to a solicitor to see how much your injuries are worth as quite often personal injuries will be worth over the £1000 threshold.

Who decides if a claim is allocated to the small claims court?

The court decides if a claim is to be allocated to the small claims court. After the claimant starts the claim at court the court will send out a document known as an allocation questionnaire, which is completed by both the Claimant and the Defendant.

Based upon the information contained within this document the court will decide if the claim should proceed in the small claims court.

What happens to legal fees in a small claims court matter?

At the end of a personal injury claim the loser pays the winners legal costs, but in a small claims matter the only order the court can make is the loser pays the winners fixed costs.

Fixed costs include court fees, a small amount for expert fees (such as a medical experts), a small amount for witness expenses and a very limited amount for legal fees such as drafting a particulars of claim.

Should you have a solicitor acting in a small claims court matter?

Unfortunately your legal fees will far exceed the amount you can recover in your claim even if you are successful, so it is best not to have a solicitor acting on your behalf unless you are happy to pay a large legal costs bill win or lose your claim.

What if you have the benefit of legal expenses insurance?

If however you have the benefit of legal expenses insurance it would be worth your while using a solicitor to make your claim as your insurance policy should pay the legal costs even if the claim is in the small claims court.

Click household contents legal protection insurance to see a question I have answered explaining how to use legal expenses insurance to pay your solicitors' legal fees.

Small claims court page summary

On this page you have discovered what small claims court compensation claims are - who decides when a claim is small and how to avoid paying any solicitor's costs in claiming compensation.

Click accident compensation claim to see an overview to the UK claims process for all kinds of accident types for which you may wish to make a "small claims court compensation" claim.