What if I can't afford a solicitor?
Taking legal action can be expensive. You can no longer get public funding (legal aid) for most personal injury cases. The only cases you can get public funding for are injuries caused by:
- a medical accident;
- deliberate harm, such as child abuse; or
- an assault by the police.
However, if you can’t afford to pay legal fees, there is nearly always a way to get help with the costs, as follows.
If you are a member of a trade union or similar type of organisation, it may be able to help you with legal costs and finding a solicitor.
Check your credit card conditions and house contents and car insurance policies to see if they include legal expenses cover for the type of personal injury claim you want to bring. However, you may need to consult a solicitor to find out whether the cover offered will be enough for your case.
These agreements, officially called 'conditional-fee agreements', are now very common. They mean that you do not have to pay your solicitor's fees if you lose your case. You will probably need to take out insurance (called 'after-the-event' insurance) to protect you against the possibility of having to pay the other side's costs or your expenses (such as court fees or medical experts' fees) if you lose. Your solicitor can help you with this. For more information, see 'No-win, no-fee'.
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- Community Legal Advice
If a product (for example, a car or a power tool) was unsafe and injured you, you're protected by the Consumer Protection Act 1987. This law also covers you if you were made ill by contaminated food bought in a shop.
If you were injured outside the UK, you usually have to make a claim under the law of the country where it happened. However, sometimes this isn't so, particularly if the person or organisation responsible is based in the UK.
If a child has been injured, the time limit for making a claim normally does not start until their 18th birthday – but you can start a claim any time before then. Someone under 18 cannot take legal action in their own right, but must have a ‘litigation friend’.
If other people have been injured in the same way as you (for example, in a plane crash or by taking unsafe medicine), it may be better for you to join with them in taking legal action. You will need to get expert legal advice about doing this.
Many people are attacked in the UK each year by animals which are kept as pets. An owner of an animal has a responsibility regarding the behaviour of the animal concerned and, if the animal attacks somebody, the owner may be liable for the damage done.
If your injury was at least partly because of another driver’s negligent driving, you can claim compensation. You can still claim compensation even if the other driver was not insured or you think they don’t have enough money to pay you compensation through the Motor Insurers’ Bureau.
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Whether you are already involved in a lawsuit, or just considering getting help with a legal issue, you may have questions about working with a solicitor. Click through to find practical tips on choosing, meeting with, and hiring a solicitor - including information on fee agreements and expenses.