Here’s a tricky scenario that an old colleague of mine has come up against recently. He was going through a free consultation with a client who’d had quite a serious injury. He got her into his office as she was local, went through the usual initial enquiry stuff. What happened? Where did it happen? What her injuries were and who she thought was to blame. So far so good. He started to explain to her about the no win, no fee deal he could offer as he felt that she had a valid claim and that the other parties insurer would pay his costs should she be awarded compensation.
Then she asked the question: “What is your hourly rate?”. He told her what the usual rate was in these cases and that it’s difficult to work out exactly what his actual fees would be because others in his office on lower rates may do some of the leg work and then she asked “Could I do this all on my own, can I work directly with the insurers and file my own claim directly with them?”
So he told her that yes in theory she could lodge her personal injury claim directly with the insurers of the other person but added that he wouldn’t recommend it. After all he’s been doing it for years, knows the in’s and out’s of a claim, knows how insurers work and also he was offering it all on a n win, no fee basis so there was no point in her risking getting a lower payment. She thanked him for his time and told him that she’d go away and think about her options but as far as I know he hasn’t heard back from her yet.
From my colleague’s description of events I’ll assume that his client has thought what others have said to me in the past – that they will get a higher compensation amount because there will be no legal fees for the insurer to pay because the client went direct. Well I’ll put that myth to bed now. Insurers pay for what you can prove to have been out of pocket for i.e. expenses, damage, injury and pain etc etc. The legal fees are paid out separately to cover the actual legal costs that the solicitor has incurred while preparing your personal injury claim and nothing else. If you don’t have legal costs, you won’t be paid for them on top of your compensation.
So the question still stands, can you claim directly without needing a personal injury solicitor. The simple answer is yes you can. You may think it’s strange that I said that but I’m in no way recommending it. Apart from the most simple cases I’d suggest that you would receive a lesser payment from an insurer than if your compensation claim was submitted by a solicitor.
Personal injury solicitors have usually worked in the sector for a number of years dealing with many different types of injury and also with a number of different insurers and their legal teams. They’ve got experience in how things works, which companies want to see evidence and in what format. You may think that you can just google things or ask on legal forums but in reality the advice you find on some of those sites is a bit hit and miss. Sometimes it is downright wrong. I was once shown a web page on a legal forum by a client and I had to explain to him that if he’d follow the advice on there then he’d end up with a criminal conviction! I would link to it but unfortunately I can’t for the life of me find it any more.
My advice to anyone asking the same question to me would be to remove the risk of doing it incorrectly and make use of a solicitor who specialises in personal injury claims. Make use of one who works on a no win, no fee basis and check that is exactly what you’re getting by reading the agreement they ask you to sign.
Ask them what experience they have with your type of injury as some specialise in certain types of injuries and claims. Also speak to them directly if you can rather than over email. You’ll know straight away if you find your solicitor approachable and that it is someone you can work with. Fortunately after looking for the not so good site I found a good site that explains all about no win no fee and personal injury claims in detail which is here – Claims Action.
I’ve dealt with so many companies and their legal teams over the years and know exactly what paperwork is needed to make a successful claim for the right amount of compensation. That is the key here, you may be able to get some compensation by claiming yourself but I’d be sure that an experienced personal injury solicitor would be able to get the correct amount of compensation for you.