I’ve been in a car accident. How can I pay for my court case?

If you have been involved in an accident and there is a dispute about who was responsible, at HHD we may advise you to issue legal proceedings to bring your case to court. Proceeding to court can be very expensive and there are significant costs risks if you lose your case. The general rule is that the losing party bears not only their own legal costs but the other side’s as well. We will therefore make enquiries to see if you are entitled to any form of public or private funding to help with your legal costs.


At the time of writing, legal aid is still available for personal injury and damage claims arising out of a road traffic accident. Anyone applying for legal aid must satisfy two criteria before being granted funding for proceedings:

(a) the Applicant must show reasonable grounds for taking the proceedings and

(b) the Applicant must be financially eligible within the limits set for disposable income and capital.


road traffic accident claims belfastWe can carry out an assessment of your means and advise you on your financial eligibility for legal aid. If you are eligible, we will meet with you to complete the application forms which we will then submit on your behalf. You should bear in mind that legal aid is not always free. There are two main situations when you may have to pay some or all of the costs of your case:

(1) you may have to pay contributions towards legal aid based on your income and savings and any other capital you have;

(2) if at the end of the case you recover or preserve property (ie you gain money or property that you did not own before) you may have to pay some or all of the costs of your case. This is called the “Statutory Charge”.


If you are not eligible for legal aid you may wish to check if there are any private funding options available to you, for example legal expenses cover. Legal Expenses Insurance is usually sold as an add on to home or car insurance. You should therefore check your home and car insurance policies/schedules to determine if you have such cover. We can assist you in making an application to your insurers under the terms of your policy and are happy to undertake any specific notification and reporting requirements that they may have. If you have legal expenses cover in place, it will generally cover your own legal costs and the other side’s if your case is not successful.


You may also wish to consider an application for “After the event” (ATE) Insurance. Such policies insure legal actions relating to events that have already happened. ATE Insurance allows you to insure against the risk of losing your case and having to pay your opponent’s costs. It does not cover your own legal fees, although it is possible to extend the policy to cover certain outlays like Counsel’s fees or expert reports. In the first instance we can meet with you to complete the proposal form and submit this to the insurers for their consideration. If your claim is accepted, you will be advised of the insurance premium which is usually contingent upon the successful conclusion or winning of the case (i.e. if you lose no premium is due).


If you have any questions about funding your case or would like to speak with a personal injury solicitor, call us for a free consultation on 02890770770 or by email carolinedunlop@hhdsolicitors.com