Personal Injury Lawyers – How Do You Find A Good One?
August 18, 2014
By Beth King
If you have suffered an injury and need to make a claim, it can be very difficult to know where to find a good lawyer.
Claims manager or solicitor?
The first thing you need to know is that only a solicitor can represent you in court proceedings. So, if you use a "claims manager" or some other unqualified person claiming to be a "lawyer", they might well want to settle your case for whatever they can get so that proceedings don't become necessary.
You should also bear in mind that only solicitors have to take out insurance against making mistakes with your claim. If a claims manager makes a mistake and you have to sue them, they might not have enough money to pay your claim. Solicitors, however, have to have at least £2 million professional indemnity cover so you can be sure you will be covered if something goes wrong.
So where should you look?
There are a number of ways to find a solicitor with the skills to deal with your case.
- Personal recommendation – if you know someone who has had a claim themselves, they can tell you if they were happy with the way their solicitor handled their case. But be careful because, unless they are in the legal business themselves, they might not know if they actually got the right amount of compensation. But they will know if they were given a good service.
- Recommendation by another solicitor who you trust – this is fine so long as you already know a solicitor to ask.
- The Law Society – you can find their number in the yellow pages or online – they will tell you those firms in your area which do personal injury work.
- Look for a solicitor who is accredited by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) as a personal injury specialist. (You can find this on the Law Society's website). These are solicitors who have shown that they have sufficient experience and skill in personal injury work and have provided references from other solicitors who can vouch for their work. To stay on this Panel of specialists, solicitors have to re-apply every 5 years.
- The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) – APIL also runs an accreditation scheme. However, the scheme is open to non solicitors (who work for firms of solicitors). They don't have to be on the SRA's panel (which is for qualified solicitors only), but they do have to show a certain level of experience and attend personal injury courses run by APIL every year.
Solicitor or paralegal?
Solicitors' firms employ lawyers who are not qualified solicitors. Many have been doing personal injury work for years and have as much skill and experience as the solicitors who employ them. Some will have qualified as "Legal Executives" – they are entitled to use the term "FCILEX" meaning that they are fellows of the Institute of Legal Executives. Some may even be partners of the firm.
Other less experienced staff may be called paralegals. It can be difficult to know if they have the skill necessary to undertake your case. The key is in knowing whether they are properly supervised by experienced, qualified solicitors.
A properly supervised paralegal should be able to handle a straightforward whiplash case but you probably wouldn't find one working on a case in which liability for the accident is difficult to prove and the injuries are quite serious.
If you aren't sure about the skill level of the person who may be handling your claim, don't be afraid to ask. Solicitors are obliged to tell you this and should not mind if you ask.
You should also ask about what experience they have in handling your type of claim. Most solicitors and paralegals will know how to run a simple road traffic case but if you suffered a repetitive strain injury at work or have an asbestos related illness, you need someone who has conducted similar cases before.
If they aren't happy to tell you about their experience, look for another firm.
You can find details of our personal injury lawyers here.
Marsons Solicitors - August 2014
The information contained in this article is intended for general guidance only. It provides useful information but it is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice as the articles do not take into account specific circumstances. So do please Contact US for legal advice on the issues raised.