Instructing a solicitor to handle your personal injury compensation claim might seem a little daunting. If you have been unlucky enough to be injured in an accident, taking advice from a solicitor is one of the many things that you may have to do when dealing with the aftermath of your accident. You shouldn’t be worried: solicitors are here to help!
The good news: instructing a solicitor to handle your personal injury claim will help
There is no legal requirement to use a solicitor to make your compensation claim. You could decide to make your claim without the help of a solicitor. There are, however, a number of very good reasons why instructing a solicitor to handle your compensation claim is a wise choice. (Read more about making a choice between a DIY claim or instructing a solicitor).
Even if you are considering making a DIY personal injury claim, it is my strong recommendation to discuss your claim with a solicitor before making a decision. It is most likely that your interests will be best served by having an independent solicitor to handle your case on your behalf.
First consultation with a personal injury solicitor: what to expect
The first contact with a solicitor will usually be by way of a free consultation. The first consultation could be by phone or a meeting. In most cases, the solicitor will be able to give preliminary advice regarding the likely prospects of your claim, the evidence required, and the next steps which need to be taken.
The solicitor will also give advice regarding the various options for funding your claim, including any available no win – no fee funding.
If the solicitor feels that you could bring a claim, that the claim would have a reasonable chance of success, and the case is one which the solicitor would be happy to handle, the solicitor will offer to act on your behalf.
What will a solicitor cover in a first consultation about an accident claim?
Your decision to instruct the solicitor to handle your claim will depend very much on how you feel during your consultation with the solicitor. During your first conversation the solicitor should:
- Allow you to explain about your injury in a relaxed way without making you feel rushed
- Listen to what you have to say and ask questions to obtain more information if required
- Explain whether or not they feel that a claim can be made
- Identify any issues which might affect the chances of your claim being successful
- Explain the process for bringing a claim
- Explain the different options for funding the legal fees of the case
- Explain things clearly and in such a way that it was easy to understand
- Give you an opportunity to ask questions and answer any queries or concerns that you have
- Allow you time to decide whether to instruct them to handle your claim without pressing for an immediate decision
At the end of the first consultation, if the solicitor feels that your claim has reasonable prospects of success and is a claim which falls within their area of expertise, they will offer to handle your case.
In some cases, the solicitor may need you to obtain some further information before a decision can be made regarding the potential claim. Either way, you should not feel pressured into making a decision during the first consultation.
Instructing a solicitor to handle your compensation claim: first steps
If you do decide to instruct the solicitor to proceed with your case, the solicitor will need some further details from you to enable the claim to progress.
Your solicitor will explain to you the next steps that he or she will take to start your claim, and will also let you know what information, documents or other evidence you need to provide, such as documents to confirm your identity. The solicitor may also ask you to provide other documents, such as receipts, statements, photographs, etc, which may be required to progress your claim.
Your solicitor might advise you to take some action, such as making an appointment to see your GP to discuss the injury, or taking photographs of your injuries, or keeping a diary of events or a list of your financial expenses. You can read more about first steps in our guide 12 Things You Need to Know Before Making a Personal Injury Claim. Make sure that you are clear about any action that you need to take and follow your solicitor’s advice carefully.
Dealing with legal paperwork
Once you have confirmed to your solicitor that you want them to handle your case, be prepared to receive some paperwork, some of which you may need to complete or sign. A personal injury claim is a formal legal process which is subject to rules and procedures.
Your solicitor is also regulated and required to carry out various checks and enquiries, such as confirming your identity, as well as providing you will lots of information.
In order for your solicitor to act on your behalf you will need to enter into an agreement for your solicitor to provide legal services to you. The scope and nature of the legal services to be provided, the arrangements for paying legal fees, the amount of fees that will be charged, and the solicitor’s terms and conditions of business will be set out in writing for you to agree.
It may feel daunting to face the prospect of lots of ‘legal’ paperwork. You really shouldn’t let this worry you. It is part of your solicitor’s job to explain any documents to you: to explain what they mean and why they are necessary and the legal effect of each document that you might be asked to complete or sign.
Many solicitors will be happy to complete any forms and documents for you so all you need do is check that the information is correct and sign. Do not, however, assume that because your solicitor has sent the document to you it must be correct: always check the contents of any document before you sign it.
Your solicitor will always try to ensure that documents are accurate but there is always the possibility that there are errors. If you feel that any document has an error or is incorrect in any way, tell your solicitor who will arrange for the document to be amended.
What to do if you have questions or concerns about compensation claim paperwork?
If you have any queries at all about any document that you receive from your solicitor do not be afraid to ask your solicitor to explain it or address your concerns.
You may sometimes feel slightly reluctant to ‘bother’ your solicitor with questions but you really should not feel this way. Your solicitor is there to advise and represent you and this includes answering any questions that you may have.
Your solicitor will not see your questions as an aggravation, nor will your solicitor think that you are asking ‘stupid’ questions. Your solicitor understands that this legal process is new to you. It is a complex process – which is, of course, why you have instructed your solicitor to handle the claim.
You and your solicitor: keeping the lines of communication open
During the course of your claim it is perfectly natural, at times, to feel confused, or concerned, or worried about what is, after all, a serious legal process.
As a solicitor, it is very important to me to know that my clients understand any documents that I send to them and understand the advice that I give. I want, and need, my clients to understand my advice and to feel happy and confident going forwards with the claim. I’ve also set out some answers to common questions about making a personal injury claims.
My advice is therefore if in doubt, ask. Speak to your solicitor, ask your questions and tell them about your concerns and anything that you are unsure about. Your solicitor will be pleased that you have given them the opportunity to explain things and discuss your concerns.
Help you solicitor to help you ….
Working closely with your solicitor, keeping your solicitor informed and asking questions any time you are concerned or unsure about something, will help your solicitor to help you. Keeping the lines of communication open is extremely important and will help to ensure that your claim runs as smoothly as possible.
What to do next? Why not contact the author for more information ….
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 me on Freephone 0800 731 5434 or complete our online enquiry form.