We received the following question in an enquiry via our website:
“After a road accident (not own fault) is it better to claim personal injury through solicitor provided by my insurer or through independent solicitor?”
Here are 5 things you could consider which might help you reach a decision on that issue.
1. How experienced and qualified is the person handling your claim?
It would be nice to be able to take it as a “given” that the level of experience and expertise of the two types of adviser are the same. However, that is not necessarily safe to assume.
Knowing whether your claim is going to be handled by a solicitor or by a paralegal (or by an administration person) could be important. If you’re getting help from a solicitor, you have a clear benchmark of legal training. With a paralegal or claim handler, that’s not so obvious.
In general terms, you’re looking for a solicitor who has a proven track record in dealing specifically with personal injury claims. All solicitors are not the same in that respect.
A High Street solicitor will not necessarily have the expertise required to deal with a personal injury claim. Ideally, you want to know that they are accredited as specialists in personal injury law by some reputable organisation such as the Law Society or APIL or MASS.
2. What deal will each offer you regarding any ultimate deduction from your compensation?
In the end, personal injury claims are about financial compensation.
You want to maximise the top line value of your claim and, beyond that, you want to minimise how much you might lose from your compensation in paying legal costs or a “success fee” or similar.
The deduction element is not always clearly explained at the outset.
Although we don’t have any inside track to the details, any solicitor provided through your insurer or nominated by your insurer is likely to have had to “earn” that introduction and so you can expect that they are paying some sort of referral fee to the insurer. They might want to find a way to claim this back from you.
The thing to look out for would be what the solicitor is going to deduct, if anything, from your compensation before it is paid to you in order to pay legal or other costs.
In some circumstances, that might be 20% of your compensation plus VAT (i.e. 24% in total).
If, for example, liability is not going to be an issue in your case, the risk element for your solicitor is low and so the justification for taking a significant amount of your compensation is low.
It is still possible to find specialist solicitors for personal injury claims in Scotland who will leave you with 100% of your compensation in the event of a successful claim.
3. How important is local knowledge regarding the accident circumstances?
While it is not necessarily the case, a solicitor nominated by your insurer may not be located anywhere near where you are located or where the accident happened.
If liability/responsibility for the accident is not going to be in dispute at all, local knowledge of the accident locus may not be important.
However, if liability may be disputed to some extent and, say, the accident happened at a junction which a local solicitor might understand better than someone without that local knowledge, that might be an indicator that you should seek advice from a local, specialist solicitor.
4. How keen are you to be able to meet your solicitor face to face?
This really goes back to 3., above.
If you deal with the solicitor nominated by your insurer, there is every chance that that will be someone far enough away that it will not be realistic for you to meet with them face-to-face.
It is perfectly possible for personal injury claims to be handled at a distance but we find that people prefer to have face-to-face meetings, if possible.
At particular stages in the process – e.g. –
- initial meeting,
- meeting prior to valuing the claim,
- meeting prior to raising a court action,
- meeting to discuss any offer that has been made by the insurers,
the ability to meet face-to-face can be hugely helpful, not least in enabling more difficult issues to be discussed and avoiding misunderstandings.
5. How serious are your injuries?
If your injuries are relatively minor, that would make it less important that you deal with a local solicitor.
On the other hand, if your injuries are more serious then, from experience, you are likely to have more ongoing concerns and require more reassurance as the claim proceeds. So you will find it more helpful if you have a solicitor you can deal with who is “on your doorstep”.
How we can help
We have looked at 5 questions to consider if you are trying to choose between an insurer-appointed solicitor and an independent solicitor to handle your personal injury claim.
If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are keen that the information on this website should be as full and understandable as possible. Your questions help us to review and expand the information on this website, so everyone benefits. You can contact us by phoning 01343 544077 or send us a Free Online Enquiry.
If you want to enquire about our personal injury claim services, remember you can get a free case assessment from us by making contact in the ways set out above.
Should you consider that a Free Case Assessment is something which would be helpful to you – and that we would be local, specialist solicitors from your point of view – please make a Free Online Enquiry via this website.
Let us get started on the process of investigation and review of your claim.