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The Claim Game
If you are injured in a road traffic accident through no fault of your own you may be surprised to receive a letter from the other party’s insurance company offering to handle your claim for you, avoiding the need to instruct your own solicitor. They may even suggest that you may incur certain charges by instructing a solicitor yourself.
Even a relatively minor injury may have a significant impact on your life, and it is important that your claim is handled properly. An insurance company owes a duty to it’s shareholders and to their insured. Can you be sure that they will act in your best interests too?
Personal injury claims not only regularly involve complex areas of law, but it is extremely difficult for an individual to assess how much compensation they should receive for their injury. It is therefore surprising that those who are injured are being encouraged to deal with their claims without representation.
The government will shortly be considering proposals to raise the value of claims made in the small claims court from £1000 to £2,500. The ‘no win no fee’ arrangement offered by most solicitors works on the basis that legal costs are recovered from the other party or their insurers. Costs cannot be recovered this way in the small claims court which means that claimants will have to pay for their costs from their own pocket, or represent themselves. The fact that most defendants do have legal representation creates an uneven playing field, with the injured person on the losing side.
Research carried out for the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers by MORI has shown that 64% of adults would not pursue a personal injury claim if they did not have a solicitor, 73% would not be able to work out the value of their claim and 80% would not be confident that they would be offered the correct level of compensation by insurers.
Claimant solicitors groups are campaigning to ensure that these changes do not happen and that the public do not lose out in this way.
We’ve all seen adverts on television advertising no win no fee legal advice, some of which invite you to contact claims management companies. These companies may approach you in the street. They are not solicitors and they usually make money by passing your case on to someone else to handle.
Many people do not realise that most local solicitors firms will be able to offer the the same terms (perhaps even better) with the added advantage of you being able to call in and discuss the matter face to face with the person who will be handling your claim. In most cases you will not have to pay a penny. If you’ve had an accident you will have enough to deal with without trying to tackle a claim yourself. Why not contact your local personal injury solicitor?
Kirsten Tuck is a partner at Everett Tomlin Lloyd and Pratt and has been dealing with personal injury claims for over 15 years, obtaining millions of pounds of compensation for her clients. She is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Law Society Personal Injury Panel, voluntary accreditation schemes for lawyers which help you recognise their individual skills and expertise.