Starting a claim for compensation can be an intimidating process and it is almost impossible to claim compensation for personal injury without the advice and assistance of a reputable, qualified lawyer. Choosing the right lawyer could be the difference between winning and losing your claim. The UK legal industry, unfortunately, suffers from its fair share of dodgy or incompetent lawyers who promise you the world and fail to deliver. Here are 5 tips for finding the right solicitor for you.
Avoid Cold Callers
We strongly recommend avoiding the "ambulance chasers" who call you out of the blue or bombard you with SMS messages. These organisations are claims factories, using unscrupulous methods to build up a large client list from whom they can make a quick profit. They generally want to settle claims as quickly as possible and are therefore unlikely to do what is best for you and your family.
We also recommend avoiding middlemen - companies who describe themselves as Claims Managers. They are not solicitors and simply sit in between you and your legal representative for a share of the money claimed.
Check For Accreditations From The Law Society
The UK Law Society accredits those lawyers who meet the highest standard on behalf of their clients. We always recommend working with a lawyer who is accredited by The Law Society (known as The Law Society Of Scotland and The Law Society Of Northern Ireland in those countries).
There are two accreditations given out to lawyers in the UK who cover Personal Injury Claims and Medical Malpractice. It is highly recommended to look out for either or both of these symbols on the website of any lawyer you are thinking of approaching about your compensation claim.
Additional accreditations to look out for would be that the lawyer is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.
Check Their Experience
Solicitors tend to specialise in one field or another. Not every lawyer is experienced in personal injury cases and many specialists focus on particular areas, injuries or illnesses. It is a good idea to assess your chosen lawyers experience with the type of claim you are making. You may want to ask them questions such as;
- How long have you been practicing as a personal injury lawyer?
- How many similar cases have you handled?
- What % of these cases have you taken to trial? (lawyers who have a reputation for avoiding trial are often offered lower settlements)
- What accreditations do you have?
- Are they on the Law Society’s panel of accredited personal injury solicitors? (You can also check this yourself on the Law Society website.)
- What resources do you have at your disposal? (will your case be delayed in the event of sickness or workload?)
- Who else will be involved in your case and what experience do they have?
Choosing an experienced and reputable lawyer who specialises in personal injuries (ideally with specific experience of your type of claim) is vitally important. A personal injury claim is not the time to hire your friendly family lawyer.
Review Their Reputation
Perhaps the single best way to assess the suitability of the lawyer you are considering is to consider reviews and feedback from past clients. While lawyers may be unwilling to put you in touch with clients directly there are many websites where reviews of lawyers can be found. including Trust Pilot, Facebook and Google.
How Much Do They Charge?
The majority of personal injury lawyers will work on a "no win, no fee basis." I would be wary of any law firm who wanted to charge you up front fee's for their services. The "success fee" charged by law firms will range from 10% to up to 25%. APIL, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers recommends that 25% should be the maximum amount they charge for their fee's and we would, therefore, suggest avoiding any firm who wishes to charge more than 25%, no matter what their sales pitch is.