In this article, we are considering the situation where you are making the decision between instructing a solicitor to represent your interests in a personal injury compensation claim and instructing someone else – such as a claims management company.
We are not considering the situation where you are deciding between having a solicitor and representing your own interests. Grigor & Young LLP / Moray Claims have other articles about the pitfalls of a DIY personal injury claim and the perils of negotiating directly with the third party insurers.
The 3 factors we want to highlight here are certainty, insurance and expertise. First of all, certainty.
1. It gives you certainty about who you are dealing with.
Only those who undertake wide-ranging education, training and ongoing “Continuing Professional Development” are permitted to practise as a solicitor.
At the moment, claims management companies are not regulated in Scotland.
Anyone can set up a claims management company, whether they hold relevant qualifications or not.
While the word “solicitor” has a clear meaning in Scotland, “lawyer” does not. At the moment, “lawyer” can be used as a descriptor by anyone – not just by someone who is legally qualified.
Certainty is usually a reassuring feature of anything and, going on to consider the second of our three factors, we look at other guarantees you get through instructing a solicitor.
2. It provides you with insurance and reassurance.
You might describe this as a “negative” benefit. In other words, the protection you have if things go wrong.
Solicitor firms are only allowed to operate if they have the required level of professional indemnity insurance to cover negligence for when mistakes are made (for example, if your solicitor misses the time bar for your claim and your personal injury claim would otherwise be extinguished by limitation).
Also, clients of solicitors can have recourse to the Client Protection Fund if they are the victim of a solicitor’s dishonesty. The fund is financed by the legal profession, not by taxpayers.
There is a clearly-defined procedure for lodging complaints against solicitors. Eligible complaints are always investigated in detail, fairly and by people who are independent of the solicitor or their firm. Appropriate compensation is available where complaints are upheld.
Claims management companies do not require to abide by any professional standards.
They do not have to carry any professional indemnity insurance so their clients can be compensated should something go wrong through their negligence.
Of course, you will be hoping that no mistakes will ever be made. Though it’s good to know they are there if necessary, you don’t want to have to rely on any of the safety nets that instructing a solicitor provides.
Getting someone to help you who has a solid track record will boost your confidence in the outcome and the ability to compare different solicitors on their degree of specialism and competence is another benefit of choosing to instruct a solicitor. This is the third and final factor which we now go on to examine.
3. It allows you to assess expertise.
Because official accreditation schemes exist for solicitors, whether that is through the Law Society of Scotland or specialist personal injury organisations such as the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, you can better assess the level of competence and specialism of particular service providers.
The Law Society of Scotland’s specialist accreditation scheme, for example, offers recognition to solicitors who develop specialist knowledge during their careers. The Find a Solicitor tool on their website can help you find an accredited specialist solicitor.
This level of informed choice is very important if you are trying to make the decision as to who is the best person to handle your personal injury claim for you.
This is mostly about helping you to distinguish between particular solicitors.
As mentioned above under “certainty”, you don’t need to have any qualifications or worry about complying with any professional standards if you are setting up a claims management company. It means that there is no benchmark against which you can judge the level of competence and expertise of a non-solicitor in the field of personal injury law.
How we can help
We hope you have found something helpful in this article discussing the benefits of having a solicitor handling your personal injury claim. If you have any questions about the content of this article or about the wider personal injury compensation claims services provided by Moray Claims / Grigor & Young LLP, please do not hesitate to get in touch.