Being injured or made ill due to circumstances which were outside your control can be traumatic, both physically and mentally. In the worst-case scenario, the incident may have brought about life changing injuries, requiring the need for significant adaptations to your daily life. Whilst Compensation provides some financial comfort whilst recovering or which can be desperately needed for treatment or to sustain you and your family, a personal injury lawyer who understands your needs and has patience to take you through what can be a complex and lengthy process is a key consideration. It is therefore crucial that you choose an experienced personal injury solicitor to manage your case and who understands your immediate needs at each stage of what can be a long process for many victims.
The paradox of choice
In 2004, psychologist Barry Schwartz published a best-seller called “The Paradox of Choice.” He argued that the more choice we have, the more stressful our lives become.
Although there are many advantages to having a lot of choice when it comes to selecting a personal injury solicitor, questions often abound. Should I go to a traditional law firm or a claims management company? How do I know how much experience my solicitor has in personal injury law? Will I be treated as a valued client or just another fee?
Thankfully, there are several things you can look out for that quickly identify how reputable a personal injury lawyer is. Key signs that your solicitor is focused on quality of service rather than getting as many clients through the door as possible include:
The law firm and/or personal injury solicitor has invested in acquiring accreditations
If a law firm sports accreditation from professional bodies, you can generally trust that they are highly invested in providing quality legal services to their clients.
An example of accreditation which demonstrates a law firm is committed to holding itself to a high standard is Lexcel. Lexcel is the Law Society of England and Wales’s quality mark for excellence in practice management and client care. Law firms who hold a Lexcel accreditation have policies and procedures in place that ensure the firm has the framework to deliver consistent, high-quality service to all its clients. For a firm to acquire a Lexcel accreditation, it must demonstrate it has adequate plans, policies, and procedures across the following areas:
- structure and strategy
- financial management
- information management
- people management
- risk management
- client care
- file and case management
A firm must pass extensive audits every three years to maintain their Lexcel accreditation.
Other accreditations to look for in a good personal injury solicitor include, a Personal Injury Accreditation with the Law Society of England and Wales and an Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) accreditation, which is specifically for medical negligence practitioners. The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) is also another important organisation whereby members are focused exclusively on acting for victims who have suffered injuries. Members are actively involved in forums and meetings, where many other senior litigators and experts actively campaign to ensure that the injured victims are treated fairly and properly and often liaise with Parliament to encourage positive legislative changes.
The law firm is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority
One of the key differences between a personal injury claims management company and a law firm that either specialises in personal injury or has a personal injury department is the law firm must be registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). As a regulatory body for solicitors, the SRA provides a set of Principles and a Code of Conduct which all solicitors must abide by. If a solicitor breaches SRA Principles, the body can take enforcement action.
A personal injury claims management company may not necessarily employ trained solicitors. Instead, many take your claim and sell it on to the highest bidder. By instructing a fully regulated law firm, you can trust that your personal injury claim will be managed by a qualified, experienced solicitor and their in-house team.
You felt comfortable when you met your personal injury lawyer
If your claim is complex in nature, you may be working with your personal injury solicitor for many years. Therefore, it is important that you feel comfortable with them and trust their honesty and be able to speak to them openly to discuss your claim.
An experienced personal injury solicitor will ensure:
- They explain their fee structure, including what comprises of a ‘no win, no fee’ arrangement if it is offered. For example, your solicitor will inform you if you are required to pay disbursements if your claim does not succeed. They will also advise you on taking out After the Event (ATE) insurance if they believe you would be better protected by having such a policy in place.
- Your matter is dealt with respectfully, and you understand every part of the personal injury compensation claim process. For example, if expert witnesses are required, your solicitor should explain who they are and the relevance of the evidence they will provide.
- If an early Part 36 settlement is offered, you are given detailed advice on the consequences of accepting or not accepting the offer so you can make an informed decision.
Most personal injury solicitors provide exceptional client service and have an in-depth knowledge of the law. However, many claims management companies or solicitors who only ‘dabble’ in personal injury law do not have the expertise required to advise and represent clients who have complex claims.
If you are unhappy with your current personal injury solicitor, you can change lawyers. If you instruct a new solicitor, they will write to the firm you previously engaged and ask for your file to be forwarded on.
Personal injury claims can make a considerable difference in the ability of a claimant to make the best recovery possible, free form financial stress. It is therefore imperative that you choose a solicitor who you feel you can trust, and who is committed to providing high-quality legal advice and representation.
Saracens Solicitors is a multi-service law firm based in London’s West End. We have a dedicated and highly experienced personal injury law team who have the expertise to advise and represent you in a personal injury compensation claim. For more information, please call our office on 020 3588 3500.
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