There are so many lawyers offering accident claim services that it has become very difficult for a client to choose who to instruct. This article offers some top tips on what matters when choosing an accident claim solicitor.
1. Area of expertise
Accident claims are often quite varied and can be medically complex. In order to have the best chances of success you should research a firm to find out what their areas of expertise are.
Firstly you should enquire as to whether a firm has a personal injury department. You should check that firms that claim online that they have an accident claims service actually have a working personal injury team. Within this department you should ask whether there is a solicitor that deals specifically with claims of your type. For example you may have suffered an injury through a motoring accident, therefore you would need a road traffic accident specialist. If you have suffered an injury or illness through negligent treatment or care by a medical professional, then ensure the firm has a specialist clinical or medical negligence team. Often the members of a clinical negligence team will have a qualified understanding of medical conditions and terminology.
2. Method of claim
Think about what you want to achieve from your claim and how far legally you are willing to take it. Solicitors can vary in their approach to an accident claim. Some are aggressive litigators who will drag a case to court and force a win or loose situation on the matter. Others however will be keener to push mediation and negotiation before serving proceedings on the other side. Depending on your own stance and how you want your case to be handled, it is always prudent to discuss with your solicitor what approach they believe is the most successful in accident claims.
3. Conditional fee arrangements (no win no fee)
Many firms now offer accident claim cases on a no win no fee basis, which means that the solicitor should only take on your case if they feel there is a high chance of success. A no win no fee arrangement essentially means that the solicitor will not charge you for his/her legal fees if you loose the claim. If you win on the other hand, the fees will be taken from the other side or the amount of compensation you are given will be reduced accordingly. This is something that you should find out about before taking on a solicitor on a no win no fee arrangment. Ask them to tell you exactly where their costs are taken from and how they claim these back. Be aware that the law only allows for the solicitor to claim back ‘reasonable’ costs from the other side; therefore anything that is considered above this allowance may still be billed to you.
Check with your solicitor how they will structure their fees. Do you have to pay a retainer? Will a proportion of their costs be deducted from your compensation? What happens regarding out-of-pocket expenses? On this last point, it is essential that you check with the solicitor how they charge for out-of-pocket expenses. An out-of-pocket expense is an additional cost incurred during your legal claim, which is not a legal or court fee. For example you may require further private medical examinations or the firms may charge additionally for faxing or telephone services. There is no reason why these costs cannot be recovered from the other side as long as they are ‘reasonable’. Therefore you should ask you solicitor what happens with these particular costs.
Bonallack & Bishop are specialist accident claim solicitors with particular experience of no win no fee agreements. Tim Bishop is senior partner at the firm, responsible for all major strategic decisions. He has grown the firm by 1000% in 13 years and has strong plans for its continued expansion.