One of the most fundamental steps in pursuing a personal injury claim is choosing the right lawyer. This would have to be someone who is reliable and trustworthy when handling your claim. It is important to remember you are free to choose who you want to represent you and you should never feel pressurised into instructing someone based on insurers or any other organisation.
5 Things to consider when choosing a lawyer:
1. Do they specialise in personal injury?
It is well worth choosing a firm that specialises in personal injury. They will have the experience and expertise in pursuing these claims that general firms may not have. Having a specialised lawyer will ensure you get the appropriate evidence to support your claim and obtain the best amount of compensation and outcome possible.
A good way to find out more about a firm is to carry out researches by looking at where they have been recognised and who have they been accredited by; for example, The Law Society, Lexcel, Investors in People, Chambers and Partners legal directory. Firms or individuals may also have memberships with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). Moreover, if they are not regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, make sure you check who they are regulated by.
Also, consider the qualification and level of expertise of who you are instructing. For instance, if you have suffered catastrophic or life-changing injuries you may want to consider instructing someone more senior and with particular experience in this field. They will have experience dealing with the requirements of the seriously injured and be better equipped to provide more of a holistic view. This is not just about the financial compensation but the ability to obtain interim payments for treatment and things which may make the injured person’s life much easier. These more experienced personal injury lawyers also have good relationships with medical professionals and work with them to get the patients’ needs facilitated.
2. Personal recommendations
If you know someone who has gone through a personal injury claim ask for recommendations. Ask about their experiences and what they liked or did not like about their lawyer or the firm they used. You can use this information when you are making the choice of who to instruct.
3. Feedback and reputation
The first port of call for most when researching a service is to look on the internet. You should consider reviews on websites such as Google, TrustPilot, Legal Directories like the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners which rank lawyers. Look on a firm’s website and feedback left on their pages. Also, check how long has the firm been established for, their record of winning and obtaining good results for their clients; individual profiles of personal injury lawyers within a team and their experience. You want to instruct someone you are comfortable with and has experience in similar matters.
4. Do they have to be local?
The short answer is no. A specialist is more important than someone down the road. For less serious injuries, usually, the relationship is not in person but over the phone and e-mail. If you have suffered a serious injury and you are looking for a personal injury lawyer, the solicitor can visit you either in a hospital or home to make it easier for you should there be mobility issues.
5. How will the case be funded?
In most cases, this is done with a Conditional Fee Agreement which is more commonly known as a No Win No Fee agreement. This means that there is no financial risk to you as if you lose the case you do not have to pay anything. In the case where there is a win, the other party pays for the legal fees and there may also be a deduction taken as a percentage of the final settlement towards legal costs. Check with your lawyer and discuss anything you are unsure about. In some situations, legal costs may be covered by a legal expenses insurance policy. You may want to check if you have any insurance policies that may cover you for legal expenses. A legal expenses policy may be attached to a car or house insurance for instance.
If you look at these 5 elements you should be on the right track. The most important message is that you should be comfortable with your lawyer and be able to confide in them. You want to be able to discuss your case and understand what is happening. Do not be afraid to ask questions or to request a particular lawyer if you want them. You may have personal/medical issues you want to discuss and you want to have trust in them particularly if you are distressed or having difficulties.