What is a Without Prejudice Offer to Settle?

What is a without prejudice offer to settle? An insurance company has made an offer to me of £2,000 after I suffered severe whiplash in an RTA. Is this an offer I should accept?

In circumstances where an accident victim has been approached with an uninvited offer of compensation, “what is a without prejudice offer to settle” is a question often put to solicitors. Before accepting, claimants should know both what this term means and the potential consequences of accepting this offer.

On one hand, receiving an offer of compensation “without prejudice” indicates the third party who you believe caused the accident wishes to resolve the claim, or to be more precise, their insurance company wishes to resolve the claim. Once an offer such as this is submitted, this will bring forward the end of the claim and, should you accept the offer, you will soon be compensated.

Nonetheless it is important to bear in mind the question – what is a without prejudice offer to settle, and what exactly does it settle? The answer is that while a settlement is being extended to you, this is on the basis that the negligent party will not be held responsible for the accident.

This may be a satisfactory conclusion for the victim of the accident. The victim is generally interested in receiving a settlement for their injuries, not receiving an acceptance of liability from the negligent party. However some accident victims may not be willing to accept compensation for that exact reason.

Before accepting a without prejudice offer with no admission of liability, there is a vital point to consider. If the accident in question was caused by the negligent party who had endangered the lives of other road users, any criminal charges held against the negligent party will not be dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service. The without prejudice offer – if accepted – will simply cease any further civil action.

Once you are aware of what a without prejudice offer to settle is, the next question to consider is whether a without prejudice offer should be accepted? Our advice is to contact a personal injury solicitor before making any decision and discuss the circumstances of your accident. The sooner you do so the better, as without prejudice offers can sometimes come with time limits.

Why is it important to discuss the offer with a solicitor? Once the offer has been accepted, it is a final and complete settlement. This is important as, regardless of any health issues which may develop from your injuries, or if further injuries or losses are as yet unknown, no further claim can be made against the negligent party.

The compensation offer may be suggested by the negligent party’s insurance company shortly after an accident has happened. If the offer without prejudice is accepted promptly, the company will be able to confine their potential liability for your legal costs as well as their own. They will also be able to limit the amount of compensation they are required to pay out.

It can occur where an offer without prejudice will be significantly lower than what could have been gained through a compensation claim, which is the reason many accident victims are offered this deal. You can turn down an offer without prejudice and pursue a higher compensation settlement. However you cannot guarantee its success.

While an offer without prejudice may seem like the negligent party is admitting responsibility for the accident, a defence can still be made against your claim if you reject the offer. The without prejudice offer cannot be brought up in court or shown to a judge, and cannot be used against a negligent party to uphold your claim. You will still be required to provide evidence that the negligent party was responsible for the accident and your whiplash injury.

Before making a decision it is advised that you speak with a personal injury solicitor regarding your potential claim for severe whiplash injury compensation. With advice from the solicitor, you will be able to judge if the without prejudice offer is adequate and can cover your requirements. Your solicitor will be able to examine the evidence against the negligent party to establish the likelihood of a successful personal injury compensation claim. You may also receive an estimate of how much more compensation you could be entitled to.

Once you are fully aware of “what is a without prejudice offer to settle”, you must then ask yourself whether the without prejudice offer should be accepted. From our viewpoint, a without prejudice offer should neither be accepted nor declined without first consulting a legal professional.

In this case, compensation for a serious whiplash injury can be considerably higher than £2,000 if the claim was made via the courts or through further negotiation with the insurance company. However, it is advised that you first speak with a legal representative and establish the strength of your claim before accepting or declining the without prejudice offer as there may be a reason why the offer without prejudice made to you was apparently low.