Water seems a rather boring substance.
Ice floats in water, as you’d expect.
But is that typical behaviour for substances as between their liquid and solid forms?
As you cool water down, it contracts until you get to 4°C. Then it suddenly expands again and its density reduces. So, by the time water freezes to ice, you have a material which is less dense than the liquid that it’s sitting on.
There is no other known molecular material which will actually float on its melt.
As a comparison, if you look at the olive oil sold in a supermarket, on a relatively cold day, at the bottom of the bottle there is an off-whitish deposit. That is olive oil ice.
Olive oil is a ‘normal’ liquid which, when it freezes, contracts. The frozen stuff goes down to the bottom.
Water brainwashes us from a young age to think that when you freeze a fluid it should become a solid which goes to the surface.
But water is unique in that respect.
With Personal Injury Compensation Claims, people get brainwashed into thinking they should accept how it has always been. For example, ‘you should go along with your own insurance company’s recommendation as to the solicitor you should use’. Or ‘you should accept the fact that you will lose about 20% of your compensation to pay legal or other fees if your claim is successful’.
In this article, we’ll consider how personal injury claims are increasingly a buyer’s market.
Firstly, we’ll clarify what we mean by a buyer’s market. Secondly, we’ll discuss why legal services – including personal injury claims – have not always been a buyer’s market. Finally, we will consider how that’s changing, why that’s good for you, the consumer, and how best to make the most of the buyer’s market in personal injury compensation claims.
1. What do we mean by a buyer’s market?
When there is a buyer’s market for a particular service, there are more of the service providers around than there are people who need the services, so buyers have a lot of choice and prices tend to come down.
Buyer’s markets are more favourable to buyers. They have more options to choose from and things are cheaper.
It’s the opposite of a seller’s market.
In a seller’s market, the seller has all the power. They find they can charge more for the products and services which are up for sale.
2. How has the market been and what are the trends towards a buyer’s market?
More experienced solicitors will tell you how clients used to be more deferential.
Clients were more polite. They were always pleased to see their solicitor. They were grateful if their solicitor wrote to them. Their solicitor would write to them as ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Madam’. The client generally waited for the solicitor to contact them before getting in touch with the solicitor.
Clients’ expectations have grown over time, as consumer expectation has grown generally.
Perhaps something which has held things back in terms of personal injury claims becoming a buyer’s market relates to the ‘unplanned’ nature of personal injury. No one wants or expects to be injured.
The fact that you’re injured also impacts on your ability and willingness to argue about the terms and conditions which will apply to your ‘purchase’ of legal services in order to make a compensation claim.
Early in his 2017 book, Law is a Buyer’s Market, Jordan Furlong picks up on how most folk’s encounters with the law are not planned or pleasant.
Many times, law comes to the door, and it feels like a home invasion.
It arrives as trauma, disrupting plans and dreams, threatening the personal well-being and financial survival of those who open their door to find it there.
From the poorest family to the richest corporation, the impact of the legal system usually disrupts – and frequently shatters – the normal flow of life’s events.
Jordan Furlong, Law is a Buyer’s Market
This description could apply to a relationship breakdown, with all its financial and emotional fallout. Or it could apply to a problem with goods you’ve bought or a house or something else which turns out to be ‘faulty’ in some way and can only be fixed through making a legal claim. Or it could be a description of the repercussions of a personal injury.
The pain, the inability to work, the money worries, the strain on relationships – with the need to investigate claiming compensation for your losses on top of all of those things.
These are very much situations where the impact of the legal system upsets the normal flow of life’s events.
The fundamental message of Jordan Furlong’s book is that providers of legal services, including solicitors, must try to view everything they do through the eyes of their clients.
In other words, solicitors must view things from the viewpoint of those persons and businesses who consult the solicitor and purchase their services.
This message might not seem like earth-shattering news.
We’re all familiar with the phrase: ‘The customer is always right’.
It’s just that, with legal services, for a very long time, until recently, the legal services businesses (sellers) were ‘always right’.
The market was a seller’s market. Lawyers had almost exclusive access to the legal knowledge and the associated insight.
This is no longer true.
Buyers of legal services have access to huge amounts of information via the internet. On top of that, they have much better access to each other than previously – to share information about the law and law firms. They have increased choice and there is much more competition among providers of legal services.
If social media is a barometer of choice of, and competition among, legal services providers, I don’t think I have ever seen my newsfeeds as cluttered with ads for personal injury claims services as I’m seeing now.
3. In a buyer’s market, trying to view things through the eyes of the client, you, the injured person, what is best for you?
A local, accredited specialist solicitor is best because they will have local knowledge which will allow them to understand the circumstances of your accident most quickly.
The will also know best what further investigations might be required and how to go about them most efficiently.
Despite the fact that the system is set up to make you think you have to go with the solicitors your insurers appoint, for example, that is not the case. You’re the ‘buyer’ of legal services and you have the right to choose who represents you.
Jordan Furlong talks about the client as the ‘purchaser’ of legal services.
With personal injury compensation claims, the ‘purchase’ need not necessarily cost you anything. It’s important to appreciate that funding mechanisms such as ‘no win-no fee’ can still cost you – in terms of a loss of a proportion of your compensation to pay legal or other fees – if your claim is successful.
A personal injury solicitor who is viewing matters from the perspective of the client will do their best to minimise and, if possible, eliminate this ‘hidden’ cost of personal injury claims. It’s crucial, as the potential client, to be aware that it is not a given that you will lose 20% of your compensation in payment of costs if your claim is successful.
There may be difficult questions to ask of your solicitor and you may have good grounds for ‘shopping around’ before deciding which legal services provider you want to handle your personal injury claim for you.
If you inform yourself fully and check out all possible options rather than getting sucked into the first or most obvious deal to provide personal injury claims services to you, this will maximise the chances that your claim will float rather than sink.
The power is in your hands.
How we can help
In the article above, we considered personal injury claims for compensation as being a buyer’s market which favours consumers of legal services over providers of legal services.
We hope you now understand a bit better why you have much more power to choose a suitable legal services provider than you perhaps had thought.
Please contact us if you have any questions about the matters discussed in this article or about any aspect of our personal injury claims services.
All initial enquiries are at no charge and without obligation.
If we can have a free initial discussion with you, we would hope to be able to deal with your questions as fully as possible – whether that’s the cue for us taking you on as a client or not.