Most personal injury solicitors operate on a no win no fee basis which means that generally win or lose there is no charge. Most personal injury solicitors make no deductions from the award of compensation – that’s your money. A specialist personal injury solicitor will have professional experience in getting clients the maximum amount of compensation owed to them by law.
Contrary to popular opinion and the widespread erroneous press reports of a UK ‘compensation culture’ there is in fact no general increase in the number or value of claims for compensation for personal injury. This is borne out by statistics presented by the governments Compensation Recovery Unit and the Department of Works and Pensions showing that the recordable claims are decreasing on a year by year basis.
So, what should you do if you have an accident that caused personal injury? The first thing is to consult a firm of personal injury solicitors to get free legal advice on accident compensation claims and take with you a detailed written statement regarding how the accident happened. You should also make sure that the accident was reported and logged in an accident book or in a police report. You should preserve any evidence of negligence, including location and injury photographs and record any witnesses’ personal details. All the evidence should be protected and kept safe.
Compensation is intended to make up for the injuries and problems you have sustained. The amount is intended to put you back in the position where you would have been had the injuries not been sustained. Damages can be paid for emotional and physical problems and financial loss. A personal injury solicitor will usually classify compensation into several categories: –
General Damages – represents compensation that cannot be calculated with mathematical accuracy and usually must be assessed by a judge. This category includes pain and suffering.
Special Damages – can be calculated accurately and are more easily valued. This category includes loss of earning and damage to property.
Interest – can be claimed on special damages and general damages
By selecting an expert as your legal representative, you are making a positive step in the protection of your legal rights. Nowadays most solicitors who deal with the public are jargon free and speak plain English so that you know exactly what is going on at all stages. If you decide, immediately after you receive initial advice, for any reason not to pursue your claim that is not usually a problem as personal injury solicitors generally offer a free first interview to decide whether there is a viable claim
In England and Wales most personal injury solicitors are members of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) panel of personal injury experts and many are also members of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
When you want to find a solicitor there seems to be unending sources of information including the internet, television, newspapers, yellow pages, billboard advertisements and various other media outlets. The big questions are – who do you trust & who is a real expert? Relying on adverts containing self-expressed congratulatory opinions on a solicitor’s own abilities is not always the best course of action however membership of several professional, organisations may give a clue as to that solicitors abilities and specialisms. There is a growing number of solicitors who are specialising on particular narrow aspects of the law and it is quite unlikely that you will find a solicitor that knows all areas of the law well.
One of the best ways to find a solicitor that you can rely on and trust is by asking for personal recommendations from your family and friends. There could be someone to whom you are close that may have used the services of a solicitor at some point in the past and if your case is like theirs by all means get the contact details and try to set up an appointment. A recommendation in these circumstances will surely mean that the lawyer did a good job. The only warning is that you must make sure that his specialty is within the area of law where you need help. There is absolutely no point in seeing a solicitor whose specialism is outside the area of advice that you need. You are just wasting your time.
Once a personal injury solicitor has judged that your claim is likely to succeed, a letter of claim will be sent to the person responsible for your accident. This letter is usually dealt with by insurers who will try to settle the claim out of court. They have a total of three months to investigate the issue before they must give us an answer on whether they will be admitting liability and paying compensation or denying the allegation. If there is no response within this time period, then legal proceedings can be started to help establish liability. Often at this stage the insurers will offer compensation however if it is insufficient, your lawyer will take your case to court to allow a judge to decide on the appropriate level of damages.
In the case of criminal injuries compensation, an application is made to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) on your behalf and the matter proceeds from there.
In the case or an uninsured or untraced drive claim, an application is made to the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB).
Most personal injury solicitors are members of the Solicitors Regulation Authority panel of personal injury experts. To become a member, they must prove that they have detailed knowledge of:
Common Law of Negligence
Occupiers Liability Act
Road Traffic Acts
Civil Evidence Acts
Fatal Accident Act
Consumer Protection Act
European Community legislation
Motor Insurance Bureau
Health and Safety at Work Act
Knowledge of the relationship between injury work and social security benefits.
disclosure of medical reports
use of expert witnesses
instructing an expert witness who was previously a client
receiving opponent solicitors papers by mistake
acting for a client when previously acted for that client’s employer who is a party to the proceedings
acting for a driver and passengers in connection with a road accident
appraisal of Issues
investigation and research
utilising expert witnesses
damages and interest calculation
drafting of pleadings
persons under a disability.
commitment to take cases to a full hearing