Legal Representation in Personal Injury: Necessity or Luxury?
Access to Justice is not really front page grabbing news is it? Even without Brexit and Royal babies dominating the headlines, it hardly sets the pulse racing.
But anyone that has read the best seller from the Secret Barrister, will understand just how important it is to have redress in the legal sphere, and how vital this is to how our country operates. That book deals with the brokenness of the criminal system in the context of the deprivation of civil liberties, but it is important in the world of civil litigation too.
If you are badly injured because it was someone else’s fault and you can’t work, how are you to rehabilitate, keep that roof over your head, as well as try and recover all that money you had to pay out if you can’t access that legal advice? Politicians will argue that if they tinker with the system to make it slightly easier, then you can do all that yourself, but the truth is that it remains a minefield. My experience is that people are always in a better position if they have managed to obtain good advice from a solicitor.
But if you are able to obtain legal advice, how do you know whether it is good legal advice? Are solicitors all the same? Should you go to a specialist in that field, or can the conveyancer that moved your Dad 3 years ago so well, also deal with your accident at work? These are all good questions and came to the fore for me over the last two months.
My colleague Lindsey Ransley took over a claim recently from another firm representing a client who had slipped on the floor of a restaurant. The client had been told to accept a sum of £4,000 in full and final settlement without any medical evidence. Thankfully she wasn’t convinced about this, and sought a second opinion. A few medical reports, a couple of meetings and a bit of negotiation later, Lindsey settled her case for over £40,000.
Only late last year I took over a case from a national firm specialising in Personal Injury. Years of using the wrong expert resulted in a log jam in the evidence that the client was not happy about. The claim was valued somewhere around £15,000. Two weeks ago, the claim was settled for the correct figure of £80,000.
If truth be known, I’m slightly uncomfortable about saying all of this. All we are doing is our job, and doing what we should be doing, which is working in the best interests of our client. But it just goes to show that it really is important to instruct someone who knows what they are doing. Someone that knows the relevant questions to ask you, someone who knows what questions to ask of the medical expert, and someone who knows who the correct expert is to instruct in the first place.
Personal Injury solicitors are not fighting for your liberty, or the restoration of family relationships, but they are vital in standing up for you against the might of an insurance company, making sure that you are compensated with the correct amount. If you suffer life changing injuries, then choosing your lawyer is one of the most important decisions you need to make at that time. Getting it wrong can be the difference between you recovering the right amount or being undercompensated. It can also be the difference between getting the right rehabilitation or none at all. When it comes to settling your claim, you have one chance. If your solicitor gets it wrong, then it could have dire consequences.
Tim Ransley is an experienced Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Solicitor. If you have been affected by any issues referred to in this article, or have concerns about your own claim, then please do not hesitate to contact Tim at Bennett Griffin for a free no obligation chat on 01903 229937