When it comes to finding a good personal injury firm, the choice can be overwhelming. There are so many firms out there that it can be difficult to pick out the one that’s right for you.
It means people are often tempted to allow others to make the choice for them. And this is perfectly understandable, especially if you’re still feeling the effects of your injuries. But it is also important to be aware that the personal injury firm you instruct can have an enormous impact on your experience, both in terms of the process and the final result – i.e. the amount of compensation you receive. All personal injury firms are not created equal!
This blog sets out some of the key aspects to consider when finding a firm of personal injury solicitors, so that you can make the choice which is right for you.
Remember that it is your choice
As someone who is making a personal injury claim, it is your right to choose which firm you want to represent you.
Depending on your accident, you might have an insurance company involved or other organisations looking to help you – such as a trade union. Organisations of this type often have a panel of legal firms associated with them, and they will select from this panel when one of their members has been in an accident and wants to make a personal injury claim. As such, they will get one of these firms involved on your behalf – even though it isn’t a firm you’ve chosen to use, and may never have even heard of before.
It can be tempting to just ‘go with the flow’ and allow these lawyers to take on your case. But this surrenders control of a crucial decision in your personal injury claim. And it is through business agreements – and often the ability to handle a high volume of claims – that firms are included on these panels. So they may not be of the quality you need (or deserve!) in your claim.
Therefore, it is important to remember that you are within your rights to instruct different lawyers instead – even after your claim has begun. This allows you to pick lawyers that you have looked into and chosen yourself.
You don’t have to choose someone local
You might feel that you have to instruct a personal injury firm that is close to you. But this isn’t the case. The overwhelming majority of personal injury claims are dealt with, in full, without a client ever setting foot in their solicitor’s office.
Anything that does require you to be in physical attendance, such as medical examinations with an independent expert or court hearings, will be arranged to take place near to you.
This gives you a much wider range of choice, expanding it beyond those personal injury firms who just happen to be close by.
Finding proper personal injury specialists
Many legal firms offer personal injury services, but not all of them have a team which specialises purely in personal injury law. You should discount any firms which do not have a specialist team, as their knowledge and experience will be split between different areas of law – rather than focused on the area which is relevant for your claim.
You can often find this out by looking at the firm’s website and reading the profiles of any lawyers who handle personal injury matters. This should also give you a sense of their background and their skills and experience.
For solicitors, you can also look up some details about them on the Law Society’s database of solicitors. There will be a small amount of information about the firm – whether it is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) which is absolutely crucial – and then each solicitor will have a profile telling you when they qualified and any professional accreditations they may have. This can be a good way to get an idea of their experience and specialisms.
Do you trust them and can you work with them?
The firm’s website – and other information you can find about them online – should also help you build a picture of their identity. For example, the firm might have a strong ethical character which resonates with you.
Reviews left by previous clients can be very helpful, particularly those which mention the lawyers or team you would be dealing with.
The website will also give you a good idea of the firm’s size. Whilst it’s not always the case, larger firms that deal with a high volume of claims are more likely to assign your claim to an unqualified paralegal, usually under some supervision, rather than an experienced lawyer. Who will be handling your claim is something you should always check with a firm before instructing them.
When you contact the law firm you have in mind, you should also try to speak to the lawyer who would be handling your claim. This can help you to assess them individually, such as whether they foster a sense of trust in you and whether you get on with them personally.
It is vital that you choose lawyers that you trust to handle your claim. If you don’t, it will make the whole claims process considerably more difficult and unpleasant. So getting a sense of whether you trust them before instructing your personal injury solicitors is a key step – and another reason why choosing the right firm for you is such an important decision.