The thought that comes to most peoples’ minds after suffering a personal injury is that I must get a solicitor. Or the suggestion may come from your partner or a friend wishing you well and to see that you receive compensation for your injuries.
Everyone is emotionally charged and wishing for some sort of ‘justice’ from the situation.This is particularly true in the case of a motor accident where your pride and joy is all smashed to smithereens. Also you are not looking too good yourself having felt the impact through your whole body and suffered nasty injuries from the restraining seat belt and cuts and bruises to your face and burn injuries from the exploding airbag.
Now everyone is out to get the other motorist involved in the accident and its going to cost him for the accident was his fault. But what if the accident was not a motor accident but was instead an accident at work. Let us assume that you work in an office and on the way back to your desk from the coffee machine you tripped over a piece of loose carpet or electric cables and smashed you face against a table as you fell. You also sustained other injuries and burnt yourself with the coffee you were carrying. By clicking here we get info about personal injury solicitors or lawyers
What would be your attitude then about seeking redress against your employers where you have been working now for the past four years and is quite happy with your job? You are on a good salary with perks and your prospects for further progression are quite good. Also you get on very well with your colleagues a number of whom are close friends with whom you socialize outside of work.
In the first scenario you have no hesitation whatsoever in seeking to obtain justice from the alleged negligent motorist. However, you have mixed emotions when it comes to claiming against your employer. But you have to make a decision as the ‘limitation’ clock starts to tick straight away under which you have three years in which to claim for personal injury The Law Reform Limitation Act (1980) failing which your claim becomes statute barred, in other words out of time.
There is no law that says you need to instruct a solicitor to pursue your claim for personal injuries. That is a decision which you take freely but usually because most people have no idea what to do going forwards with their personal injury claim. They therefore rush to their nearest solicitor office having taken bad advice from friends as to the suitability of their local solicitor to handle their personal injury claim.
They have no idea that solicitors specialize in different fields of law, example employment, family, criminal, personal injury etc. Your local law firm may specialize in personal injury claims but being a small firm of solicitors they have a limited number of qualified solicitors on their books and so they multi-task meaning they are responsible in other functional areas such as accounts. So when you go to see your local solicitor about your personal injury claim he takes off one of his many other ‘hats’ and puts on his personal injury hat. He may have qualified as a solicitor many years ago and is not up to date in personal injury law but he has dealt with one or two cases in the past.
As a senior solicitor he commands respect from junior staff and charges senior solicitor rates per hour of work requiring his personal time. The charge rate for a senior solicitor in London is £150- £200 per hour. The Law society published rates are available for you to review if you require.
You are however allowed the first half-hour consultation free of charge under the Green Form Scheme. There is no longer any funding available under legal aid which has been replaced by the ‘no-win-no-fee’ system.
Their costs are structured to show their labor time separate from items of disbursements. The disbursements include medical fees, expert witness costs, counsel’s fees, etc. Their standard charge can be marked up by 100 per cent so that the effective charge rate as in the case cited above becomes £300- £400 per hour in London. For out of London costs these are only marginally lower. See your local County Court Cost guide for current rates.
Some solicitor firms employ junior staff some of whom are perhaps studying for their ILEX exams(Institute of Legal Executive). Therefore you may be dealing with a para-legal rather than a qualified solicitor. However, these juniors although not yet qualified still command costs up to £110 per hour for their work.
A lot of the foot work is carried out by junior staff and the senior solicitor just cast an eye over the claim to make sure that everything is ok. However, the firm’s costs may show a breakdown of x-number of hours work by a junior, x-number of hours by an Associate and x-number of hours by a Senior solicitor.
They also have a habit of running to counsel for advice on the most trivial of issues. Even in a simple case they will obtain counsels advice on either or both liability and quantum. This pushes up their costs by a huge amount. Counsel’s fees could add £500 or more in a simple case and £1500 or more in a fairly complex claim.
In London a junior solicitor would receive a fixed salary of say £45,000 pa. An Associate is likely to be on £75,000 plus profit sharing. Your senior solicitor takes the cream at £200,000 per annum plus profits sharing.
On the other hand the average claimant is earning £13500- £20,000 in London. So when you go to see your local solicitor don’t be too disappointed if he is unfortunately detained on the golf course and cannot see you. His secretary will advise you that he is with another client but she can take a message and he will get back to you.
If you are involved in a personal injury claim at the moment then you may wish to take a look at “The Personal Injury Claims Guide for DIY Claimants”. You will learn from this 50 page information-packed easy to understand and user-friendly guide just what is involved in making your claim successful. If you proceed to deal with the insurance company without this invaluable knowledge then you will be at a disadvantage in terms of winning your claim or obtaining full compensation for your injuries.
Most solicitor will push to make sure that the settlement hits the £1000 mark because that is the ‘watershed’ figure to ensure that they recover their full costs. So as a claimant who has suffered a personal injury you get £1000 and your solicitor gets say up to £5000 for his costs.
So whose interests are best served in these circumstances? When you consider the average cost of claim settlements you will realize that there is no need for a ‘middle-man’ because that is really the role of your solicitor. And they are not all as highly skilled as you may ‘imagine’ them to be. I have had claimants on the phone to me in distress over their claim because they could not get any information from their solicitor and wanting to negotiate their own claim directly.
However, at that point they are locked into a contract with their solicitor and liable for his costs even if they wish to pull out of the contract. Of course, sadly we have to turn them away so that they can first resolve the issue with their solicitors before we can discuss their claim with them.
You can save yourself a lot of these hassles by making a small investment in your own education by obtaining your personal copy of ‘The Personal Injury Claims Guide for DIY Claimants’.
After all it’s bad enough suffering the pain and going through the healing process which could take several months without being ‘short-changed’ by the insurance company when you submit your claim.
The important point to note is that you do not need to instruct a solicitor for the majority of personal injury claims. I have personally settled claims for just over £1000 where the costs from solicitors range from £3500 to £5000 and more.
Would it not be a more equitable proposition that you receive a higher level of compensation for your injuries and the insurance company save money on solicitors’ costs so that they can meet the cost of future claims? I think you and most people would agree this is the best solution.