Five Things To Look For In A Good Personal Injury Solicitor
If you have received a personal injury and wish to claim compensation, the prospect of contacting a personal injury solicitor may be slightly daunting. You may have been contacted by a claims management company in the past and been on the receiving end of a pushy salesman. Reports of unscrupulous ‘ambulance chasers’ in the media may also have caused you to view personal injury solicitors with suspicion.
However, a fully qualified, experienced personal injury solicitor has next to nothing in common with the above examples. As someone with a genuine compensation claim, it is crucial that you find a personal injury solicitor who has the expertise to advise and represent you.
This article provides a practical guide on what to look for in a reputable personal injury solicitor.
One – Make sure the firm is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority
All law firms in England must be registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). As a regulatory body for solicitors, the SRA provides a set of Principles and a Code of Conduct which all solicitors must abide by. If a solicitor breaches SRA Principles, the body can take enforcement action.
It is always better to contact a solicitor directly than go through a claims management company, who are not regulated by the SRA. Many claims management companies do not employ any legally qualified staff and often act as a middle man, by selling your claim to the highest bidder.
To ensure you are contacting a law firm as opposed to a claims management company, look for the organisation’s SRA number on their website. All law firms must display this clearly.
Two – Look at the accreditations and qualifications the firm and its personal injury solicitors have
A good way to identify a law firm that invests heavily in its commitment to providing quality legal service is to see if it has received any awards and/or accreditations.
For example, does the firm have a Personal Injury Accreditation from the Law Society of England and Wales or an Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) accreditation (this is specifically for medical negligence)? Has it invested in Lexcel? Is the personal injury solicitor a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers? Are they mentioned in the Legal 500?
Accreditations, especially those issued by the Law Society such as Lexcel and the Personal Injury Accreditation, require a law firm to meet a certain standard to gain the accreditation. In addition, they must maintain this standard to retain accreditation, as the Law Society will regularly carry out assessments to ensure the firm’s policies and procedures continue to be of the highest standard.
Three – Make an initial appointment with your chosen personal injury solicitor
A personal injury solicitor will want to meet you to discuss the nature of your case to see if you have a valid compensation claim. This is a very important meeting as you need to assess whether you can work with this person over the lifespan of your claim. For complex cases, such as medical injury and industrial disease claims, this could be up to three years.
A good personal injury solicitor will put you immediately at ease. If your case involves a highly emotional, sensitive matter such as the death of a loved one or historical sexual abuse, they will come to your home rather than force you to talk about your case in a strange environment.
At the end of the first meeting you should feel like the solicitor will collaborate with you, providing the knowledge, support, advice, and representation you need to proceed with your claim.
Four – Evaluate how clearly the solicitor explains ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements
Most personal injury lawyers will offer ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements, also known as Conditional Fee Arrangements or CFAs.
The best personal injury solicitors will ensure that every aspect of a ‘no win, no fee’ arrangement is explained to you and outlined clearly in a Letter of Engagement. If you are required to pay disbursements (expenses) if your claim is not successful, the terms of engagement should make this clear.
‘No win, no fee’ arrangements offer an element of surety to clients. This is because, in taking your case, it is the law firm that is shouldering the entire risk. Therefore, you can be confident that if a good personal injury solicitor agrees to pursue your claim, it stands a reasonably good chance of being successful.
Five – Remember, if you are not happy with your personal injury solicitor, you can change
If you are unhappy with your personal injury solicitor’s performance and you are unable to resolve it with the firm, you can change solicitors, no matter what stage your case is at.
If you feel uncomfortable about doing this – don’t. Your new solicitor will take care of the matter for you, writing to your former lawyer to let them know that they are now proceeding with the claim and asking for all the files relating to the matter.
Most personal injury solicitors are incredibly hard working and understand personal injury law extremely well. However, many claims management companies or solicitors who only ‘dabble’ in personal injury law, should be avoided. By looking out for the qualities outlined in this article, you will find a personal injury solicitor who you can have confidence in.
Bennett Griffin are award-winning solicitors based in West Sussex with offices in central Worthing and Ferring. Our experienced and specialist solicitors offer a comprehensive service and will work with you in an honest, considered and practical manner. If you require legal advice, please contact us on 01903 229 999 or by email at email@example.com for more information.
The information contained in this article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be legal advice. Professional advice should always be taken on the application of the law in any particular situation.