Do I need a solicitor to make a personal injury claim? There is no legal requirement to instruct a solicitor to handle your claim. Legally you are perfectly entitled to act on your own behalf and pursue your claim without the assistance of a solicitor.
There are, however, a number of factors which can affect the success of your claim, and the amount of compensation awarded, which you should consider before making your compensation claim without the help of a solicitor.
DIY Personal Injury Claim or Solicitor?
Many insurance companies, particularly in relation to road accident claims, will offer to deal directly with you. The insurers may tell you that you don’t need a solicitor, and may even go so far as to encourage you not to contact a solicitor.
It may seem that pursuing your claim on your own is a cheaper and simpler option. This could well be an attractive proposition if your aim is simply to obtain some kind of payment from an insurer. The question then arises: how much compensation am I entitled to?
How much personal injury compensation am I entitled to?
If an insurance company offers you say £500 for your claim, how do you know if that offer is reasonable? What if they offer you £1000, or £2000, or even £10,000? The offer might seem generous, but how do you know that your claim isn’t worth double that amount, or triple the amount, or ten even times that amount? Quite simply, you don’t know.
Problem: How do I know how much my personal injury claim is worth?
You might consider looking on the internet for similar cases and trying to judge the level of compensation that way. The problem is that if you Google ‘how much is my claim worth?’ you will be faced with answers which provide a wide range of figures: as set out on our page How much is my personal injury claim worth?
For example, the guidelines for a minor back injury would range from a few hundred pounds to over £10,000. More severe back injuries can attract awards well over £100,000. These figures do not take into account past and future financial losses which could increase the value of the claim significantly.
Ask a friend?
You might ask your friends for advice about the value of your claim. Most people know someone, who knows someone, who has received compensation for a personal injury claim. The chances are that the claim made by the friend of a friend is not exactly the same as your claim. Every claim is different and is assessed on its own individual facts and circumstances.
Should I trust the insurance company to make a reasonable offer?
You might ask the insurance company making the offer. No doubt the insurance company will tell you that the offer is reasonable. Well, let’s face it, they would, wouldn’t they? Remember: the insurance company is not acting in your best interests. The insurance company is acting in the best interests of the insurance company.
It is important to understand that there is a conflict of interest between you and the insurance company: the insurance company is only interested in settling your claim for the minimum possible amount. Your aim should be to be properly and fully compensated for the injury sustained, recompensed for any past and future financial losses and expenses that have been or may be incurred, and to be compensated for any future impact that the injury may have your physical condition or your finances. The aim of the insurer to settle the claim for as little as possible is at odds with your right to full and fair compensation.
Problem: ‘Full & Final Settlement’ means no going back for more!
One further important point to consider: once you settle your personal injury claim, by accepting the insurance company offer, there is no going back for more compensation, even if it turns out that your injury is more serious than you first thought or if you don’t make a full recovery as anticipated.
If you under-settle your claim with the insurers you are stuck with that settlement.
Compensation settlements obtained by solicitors are, on average, 2 or 3 times higher than DIY claim settlements.
Making a claim for compensation without the help of a solicitor can have serious drawbacks when it comes to assessing the value of your claim. Using a solicitor to make your claim is very likely to result in a higher award of compensation.
What if the insurance company dispute my DIY personal injury claim?
Handling your case yourself is even harder if the insurance company dispute your claim. If you submit a claim to an insurance company and the insurer responds to say that they dispute the claim, and therefore no compensation will be paid, what can you do?
There are a number of considerations to take into account:
• Do you accept the insurer’s stance that there is no case to answer, or do you fight on with the claim?
• How do you know if the insurance company defence to the claim is valid and likely to be upheld by a court?
• Which process do you follow to progress the claim via the court?
• How do you know what evidence will be required to support your claim?
• How do you know which laws apply to the claim?
• How do you know which procedure must be followed?
Without legal training it is extremely unlikely that you know the answers to these questions and will be able to proceed without help.
Solicitors are experts at dealing with insurance companies
The fact is that most solicitors train for 6 years before they are qualified. Once qualified, solicitors have to undertake ongoing training every year to ensure that they keep up to date with the (very frequent) changes in the law.
A specialist personal injury solicitor will also have years of experience of dealing with insurance companies and bringing claims; that is valuable experience which cannot be ‘taught’.
It would therefore be completely unrealistic to expect you, as an injured Claimant, to have the knowledge, skills and legal training required to successfully pursue your claim and achieve the right result, particularly against an insurance company which disputes the claim or refuses to pay the proper and justified amount of compensation.
Do I need a solicitor to handle my personal injury claim?
If you are happy to handle all the work (and the potential stress) of making the claim yourself, and if you simply want to obtain some kind of compensation (which may or may not be the ‘right’ amount of compensation that you are entitled to) the answer to that question could be, ‘no’ you don’t need a solicitor.
If, however, you want to make sure that you are properly and fully compensated for your injury it would be sensible to use a solicitor. A solicitor will ensure that you are compensated for all financial losses, compensated for any future financial losses, and compensated for any future deterioration in your condition or any future complications which might arise from the injury. If these things are important to you the answer is, yes – you could be much better off instructing a solicitor to handle your claim.
The cost of instructing a personal injury solicitor: will it be expensive?
Like most people, lawyers expect to be paid for the work that they do. Legal representation is not ‘cheap’. This is because it costs a lot of money for a solicitors’ firm to provide legal advice. Fortunately, you can obtain free initial advice about making a claim and discuss different options for funding your claim without the need to find any ‘up front’ fees.
Can you get free advice from a personal injury solicitor?
Would you like some initial advice from a personal injury solicitor, free of charge? We are happy to offer a free, no obligation, consultation to discuss your potential case.
If we feel that your claim has a reasonable chance of being successful, we will advise you of the various options for funding your case without paying any money ‘up front’ for legal fees. We are happy to offer ‘no win – no fee’ funding on suitable cases.
DIY personal injury claim ….. or free consultation?
If you would like a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your potential claim with a fully qualified, experienced personal injury solicitor please give us a call on 01257 469332. Or, if you prefer, you can complete our free enquiry form to request more information.
You might also find this useful: 12 Things To Know Before Making a Personal Injury Claim
Can you make personal injury compensation claim? See our quick and easy Claim Checker
Contact the author:
Hello! My name is Donna Beckett. I’m a specialist personal injury solicitor with over 25 years’ experience handling personal injury claims. I founded Beckett & Co Solicitors in 2001 to help injured claimants: we do not act for insurance companies. I am passionate about justice and the right of injured people to receive just and fair compensation.
If you would like a free, no obligation chat with me about making a personal injury claim please feel free to call us on 0800 731 5434.