At first, you may not be aware of it.
But after a serious injury, choosing a lawyer will be one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make.
Such are the immediate pressing concerns of the injury that it’s understandable if the thought of litigation is far from the forefront of your mind.
But choosing the right lawyer is about more than just getting legal representation.
There are many new things to be dealt with, starting with the long road to recovery and in some cases, learning how to cope with a completely new way of life.
And there will also be medical treatment, rehabilitation, care and compensation to think about; quite a daunting array, especially at such a traumatic time.
A good serious injury lawyer will be able to help you with this, and can play a vital role in determining how you live the rest of your life – but you need to find them first.
To help protect you and your serious injury case, here are five common mistakes to avoid when choosing your law firm:
1. Don’t be persuaded by promises of gifts:
iPads, shopping vouchers, £1000 in cash – as remarkable as it sounds, some UK law firms are offering these as incentives to attract as many potential clients as possible.
There are serious concerns that by offering ‘free gifts’, they encourage the public to make false claims, which in turn raises insurance premiums for everyone else.
But more importantly, these firms tend to specialise in lower level personal injury claims and because the cases are often less complex, they are able to take on a much higher volume of them.
So if they do take on a serious injury claim, it can unfortunately mean that not only do they lack the necessary experience and expertise, but they may also lack the available resources to work on it.
2. Avoid claims management companies (CMCs):
You may not be aware of claims management companies, but they’ve recently played an important part in changes to personal injury law.
Put very simply, CMCs used to attract potential personal injury cases which they would then refer on to law firms for a fee, akin to acting as ‘middle men’ in the arrangement.
However, CMCs are now heavily regulated and the payment of fees to them from law firms has been totally outlawed (known as the “referral fee ban”).
So if you need a serious injury lawyer, it’s highly advisable for you to go to them directly.
The responsibility of appointing a lawyer has now shifted into your hands, so you must make sure you’re choosing the right one.
3. Don’t assume that insurers recommend the right law firms:
The period immediately after a serious injury is a vulnerable time for all involved.
Your insurers will most likely be able to recommend a law firm to help you, and because they are in a position of authority, it’s very easy and understandable for you to simply accept their recommendation.
However, be aware this may not necessarily be the right firm for you.
Your insurers may already have business arrangements in place to recommend clients to firms that are unfortunately lacking the expertise to work on your complex serious injury case.
Or they may simply be unaware that your serious injury case requires a more specialist law firm, suited to your specific individual needs.
4. Don’t simply appoint the nearest law firm:
Similar to number 3 in this list, choosing a law firm because of its geographical convenience is not recommended.
A high street general personal injury law firm may describe themselves as ‘specialists’, but again such firms tend to focus of lower level types of injury such as trips, falls and whiplash.
Dedicated serious injury law firms are able to provide help to those after a catastrophic injury across the whole of England and Wales, so avoid convenience as a factor in your choice, and focus on whether all of your needs will be met.
A good serious injury lawyer will regularly travel to meet with clients at their homes or will alternatively make arrangements to meet at a convenient location so as to minimise any disruption after injury.
5. Don’t neglect to check previous experience:
A law firm may claim to be able to help you with your situation, but can they prove that they have past experience of successes in cases like yours?
So often, cases become abandoned by law firms when they no longer feel that there’s any prospect of success in the case – again, be it through a lack of expertise or available resources.
When this happens, it’s a sad fact that the stagnation of the litigation process heightens the devastating effects of serious injury – if you can’t get the timely help you need then you’re unlikely to be able to recover.
A sign of a competent serious injury law firm is their history of past successes in complex and catastrophic cases, particularly those who take on cases abandoned by other law firms.
They will show you that they’ve been able to find success where hope was once lost.
We are Serious Law LLP, a leading national law firm with over two decades’ experience of success in serious and catastrophic injury cases.
If you or someone you know requires the services of a serious injury lawyer, please contact us with no obligation for free advice on how we can help you.