In my previous article, I discussed why people should not settle for the first lawyer they are referred to by their motor or household insurer following an accident, or injury.
I recommend that you seek a second opinion if any of the following guidelines apply:-
- Do you have ongoing symptoms, but your lawyer is advising to settle, even though you are still off work or receiving treatment – ask them, why should I settle now? Perhaps your lawyer wants the case off their books so they can be paid. Their cash flow is not your concern! Settle when the prognosis is known and all losses have been considered, especially future loss.
- Have you tried to explain to your lawyer that you are suffering business losses, or having high expenses as a result of your injury, but they are taking no notice? Do they say it is too difficult or too expensive to explore these losses? Seek a second opinion because it may be the lawyer’s cash flow that prevents them instructing an accountant to look at your business to ascertain your true losses. They may be too inexperienced to understand a balance sheet and so miss the potential loss of profit suffered. Your pre-accident efforts may be bolstering your figures, but a future loss of profit may be missed.
- Have you had a proper explanation as to what can be claimed in terms you understand? Have you been given reams of paperwork with no proper explanation? So many people say that in the first 30 minutes they have spent talking to us, they have learnt more than in the months or years that they have had their previous lawyer. Lawyers who send you paperwork without advice give you nothing. Your lawyer is being paid to give you expert advice, so ensure you receive it!
- Has liability been disputed and you are being urged to compromise or give in, but you don’t feel that you are at fault? Time for a second opinion! Many inexperienced lawyers simply don’t fight for their clients. They accept explanations and defences given by experienced insurers, who make it seem that the case will be difficult to win. Your lawyer should be on your side and fighting for you, not accepting the word of the opponent without challenge. Seek a second opinion from Metcalfes, as we will investigate properly and may be able to fight for you.
- Do you have psychological symptoms, such as fear of being in motor vehicles, or depression since an injury, but these are not acknowledged? Have you been assessed by an expert for treatment to improve your condition? Damages should be paid for this. A good lawyer will spot the signs of trauma to ensure that proper evidence is obtained. This will increase the value of the claim, particularly if it affects your ability to work or do domestic chores, which are often overlooked aspects of a claim.
If you answered yes to any of the above guidelines, then give us a call on 0117 239 0374. Whilst we can’t fully advise on your case without the papers, we can tell you what you should expect from your lawyer and what can be done. Sometimes the file can be obtained on loan and checked through before a formal transfer.
What might prevent a transfer?
- Transferring a claim worth less than £25,000 is difficult. The costs payable by a defendant are limited. In road traffic cases worth less than £10,000, the costs paid are only £500, so a transfer is not possible if you are already signed up to another lawyer unless a higher value can be proved and damages over £25,000 recovered. This may be possible with good expert evidence and proper handling of the claim, but you may need to await a long term prognosis before a higher value can be proved.
- We can’t take on a case if it is close to trial, or if there is a substantial offer on the table. Insurance considerations to protect your position may not be available. We will advise if it is not possible to transfer the case, but we will let you know the questions you can ask your present lawyer to improve your situation.
- If your case began before April 2013 you may have to pay towards costs and insurance if you transfer, as the system changed. If you have a legal expense insurance policy then you are unlikely to be affected by such a transfer, but ‘no win no fee’ rules have changed. However, if, by changing lawyers, you pay a small amount out of your damages, the overall improvement in your settlement is likely to be more than what you pay.