There has been much publicity recently regarding the Law Society’s ‘don’t get mugged’ campaign and their recommendation to choose a specialist personal injury solicitor – particularly for serious injury claims. In the last few years the personal injury field has become a whole industry involving all sorts of entities making money – not just solicitors. Claims management companies and referral organisations have generated huge publicity for claims and businesses have developed to run personal injury claims at the lowest possible cost, highest possible return.
Against this background, the Law Society and those solicitors who practice in this area as specialists are keen that claimants make informed decisions about who they instruct to look at claims – in order to ensure they get sensible advice and the best possible outcome for them.
Philippa Luscombe, head of the personal injury team at Penningtons, has this advice on questions to ask for claimants considering bringing a claim and seeking advice:
- Approach the Law Society who have a list of specialist approved personal injury solicitors who are subject to a regular re accreditation process and have to meet certain criteria demonstrating their experience
- Does the firm have a Lexcel (Law Society quality standard) accreditation?
- Look to see if the solicitor/firm you are approaching is accredited by APIL – the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers
- Ask who will be handling your claim day to day – are they a qualified solicitor and are they accredited by the Law Society and/or APIL
- In cases involving brain and/or spinal injury, what is the expertise of the individual with this type of case and is the firm linked to Headway and/or the Spinal Injuries Association (who both accredit solicitors dealing with these claims)?
- Look at the two main legal directories online – the Legal 500 and Chambers – is the firm recommended within the industry?
- Be clear on what costs you may be asked to pay or at least how these will be assessed
- Ask how many files the fee earner who will be handling your case is managing
- Who will be supervising the case?
- How easy is it to meet with the person handling your case?
Choosing the right solicitor with the right experience is key to ensuring that you get the right outcome in your case – time spent doing research and ensuring that you have a specialist involved is well spent.