Not all personal injury lawyers are the same. Metcalfes’ clients who have spoken of their experience of bringing an injury claim describe the problems they experienced when they were “advised” by a law firm whose approach is to process claims and settle them as soon as possible.
In high value, complex injury claims, the lawyer’s responsibility is greater than in a small claim, but in all claims, the victim is entitled to recover advice and assistance by their personal injury lawyer, who should be adding value, not merely passing paperwork between the insurer and their client.
Most people seek advice before embarking upon a new venture, say a new business or buying a home. A few go to the cheapest adviser; but most seek out the best person to help. Most people reading this would also seek opinions before, say, choosing a restaurant, or a play in the theatre. Most people would look at reviews, ask around and consider reputations. The fact is, people do less research to find a personal injury lawyer, than they do before going to the cinema!
Why do people use the first personal injury lawyer they are given?
An injury claim is ‘personal’, so your lawyer gets to know everything about you and therefore, trust is essential. If they haven’t taken the trouble to understand your needs and concerns and how the injury has affected your life, can they speak for you?
The new costs regime introduced in 2013 means that for some low value claims, a fixed personal injury lawyer’s fee of only £500 is paid. That is why some firms process the claims using unqualified staff without giving any real advice, as their profit is their priority. However, if you are not advised of what can be claimed, you could miss out on thousands of pounds in compensation to which you are entitled.
This happens when people go with the first personal injury lawyer that calls them (often from their own insurance company), or someone who might be at the hospital. Once signed up it is hard to change firms, and if they are not interested enough to recover your treatment fees, lost earnings and DIY costs arising from your injury, you will be ignorant of your entitlements.
How do you choose a good lawyer?
- Ask around – See if you know anyone who has had an accident themselves, or has a family member who had a claim. Ask them about their personal injury lawyer. Did they meet with them? Were they helpful and did they give clear advice? Did they feel the lawyer was on their side, or just doing what the computer told them?
- Ask a professional – Local Barrister’s Chambers have clerks who will know the best lawyers in the area. Some therapists such as physiotherapists, chiropractors or osteopaths have dealings with solicitors and know which ones have achieved the best results for their patients and who care.
- Look at various directories, either online or at the library – The Chambers & Partners Guide lists local lawyers who are ranked by testimonials from clients and other professionals. For a serious head injury, try Headway’s directory of solicitors and for spinal injuries, look at the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) website. For serious or fatal road collisions, try the RoadPeace website. These organisations are independent of the listed law firms and have ranked firms according to skill and not their ability to pay fees.
- Call a few firms – Gauge the response you receive. Do they listen? Did they offer to meet you? Did they make you feel at ease, or did you just feel like you were treated like another claim? Think about it. What type of personal injury lawyer would you like to represent you?
For more information or advice, please contact Kay McCluskey on 0117 239 0374, or send an email by using the online contact form.
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