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Without Prejudice Offer for a Personal Injury

Following a road traffic accident in which I received severe whiplash, I received a without prejudice offer for a personal injury of £2,000 from the insurance company. Should I accept or refuse the offer?

It is becoming more common for an insurance company to make ‘a without prejudice offer for a personal injury’ and frequently solicitors are asked to explain what this term means. It is important claimants appreciate not only the meaning of the legal term, but also the implications a without prejudice offer can have.

If a third party who you believe is responsible for causing your accident makes you a compensation offer without prejudice it means they – or more accurately their insurance company – is prepared to settle your claim and, if you accept the offer, it will bring your claim for personal injury compensation to an end.

Be aware though, that a without prejudice offer for personal injury is made on the condition that the defendant accepts no liability for the accident despite the offer of compensation.

This is not an issue for many accident victims, as generally they are pursuing the claim to receive financial compensation for their injuries, not to get the defendant to admit liability. In contrast, there are some claimants who would not feel comfortable accepting a compensation offer without the defendant admitting liability.

If the accident was caused by a driver who was found to be over the legal alcohol limit, they could still face prosecution by the Crown Prosecution Service. Acceptance by the claimant of an offer without prejudice will only conclude any claim for personal injury compensation.

The question most commonly asked by accident victims is, ‘Should I accept a without prejudice offer for my personal injury?’ The best course of action to take in this instance is to contact a personal injury solicitor to discuss your claim before you make a decision.

It is worthwhile speaking to a personal injury solicitor because, if you accept an offer without prejudice, it is a full and final settlement of your claim; meaning that you cannot make a subsequent claim for any complications that arise from your injuries or any effects that you are not yet aware of.

An offer of compensation can be made very quickly after an accident has occurred by a third party insurance company, but commonly the offer without prejudice is lower than what could be obtained by pursuing a compensation claim. Insurance companies also make the offer without prejudice because it means they can limit the costs — their own and yours — they will be liable for, and it allows the insurance company to control how much compensation they will have to pay out.

If you do refuse a without prejudice offer, you can seek a higher compensation settlement through a compensation claim – but there is no guarantee of success.

As stated earlier, a without prejudice offer for a personal injury is not an acceptance by the defendant of responsibility for the accident. This is important because, if you pursue your claim and it eventually goes to court, the offer without prejudice cannot be referred to court nor shown to the judge. Bearing this in mind, you still need to prove that the defendant was to blame for the accident and is responsible for your whiplash injury.

You should not refuse a prejudice offer nor accept one without seeking legal advice first. By speaking with a personal injury solicitor and explaining the circumstances surrounding your accident and discussing your injury, you will be able to determine whether a not the offer without prejudice is sufficient to cover all aspects of your injury. The solicitor will also be able to determine your chances of a successful claim for personal injury compensation by reviewing all the evidence against the defence, as well as assessing the amount of compensation you would likely receive by pursuing a compensation claim.

In this case the offer of £2,000 for a serious whiplash injury is significantly lower than what you could attain if your claim went to court or if you continued to negotiate with the insurance company. Considering this, speaking with personal injury solicitor will allow you to make an informed decision regarding your without prejudice offer.