At Mooneerams Solicitors, we often receive requests to take over personal injury claims for individuals who’ve had such a bad experience with their current law firm that they want to switch solicitors.
Other unhappy litigants may feel stuck with using the same firm of solicitors despite growing unease with how their claim is being handled. This blog attempts to answer whether, when and how to change solicitors.
How do most personal injury claimants choose their solicitors
Many people only require the services of a solicitor when they get injured in a road traffic accident or an accident at work. They may seek legal advice about making a personal injury compensation claim.
Other people may need a solicitor after receiving an injury, such as a broken arm, through tripping on a faulty pavement. So, they decide to bring a public liability claim against the local council.
Where or to whom should they turn for legal advice and representation?
Here are some of the ways people ‘choose’ their solicitors:
They go to the same solicitor or firm that has previously done other legal work for them
Using the same solicitors firm which previously did legal work for them, whether it was conveyancing, will writing, divorce, or business-related issues, may seem like a good idea.
However, it can be risky unless the solicitor or someone else at the firm specialises in personal injury cases. Each area of law requires a different specialist expertise, and entrusting your personal injury claim to someone without the necessary experience can lead to problems, including negligence claims.
The same applies if a friend recommends a solicitor who did an excellent job for them in selling their house. Can you trust the same lawyer for your personal injury claim? We’d suggest you don’t do anything before asking:
“How skilled are they in handling accident compensation claims?
If the answer is ‘yes’, it warrants further discussion. If it’s ‘no’, then move on elsewhere.
They use a Claims Management Company (CMC)
CMCs are run mainly by non-legally qualified individuals and earn money by referring personal injury claims to solicitors in exchange for a recommendation fee.
When you submit a claim through a CMC, your details will be passed to a “panel solicitor member” who pays a fee to the CMC for each new claim they receive. Are the panel solicitors chosen for their expertise in handling injury claims efficiently or because they are prepared to pay a fee to the CMC?
We will let you decide.
The accident repair garage has a ‘preferred’ solicitor
If you’ve had a car accident and want to pursue a compensation claim, the garage that repaired your vehicle may recommend a specific solicitor. The solicitor’s firm are “preferred” because they pay the garage a fee for each claim they refer.
So, ask yourself whether you are being recommended to use a particular solicitor because they’re brilliant personal injury lawyers or because they pay the garage a fee. They may be good solicitors; it’s just that when money is a big part of why the solicitors get your claim, it’s hard to look beyond that.
Their insurers pressure them into using their own preferred solicitors
When involved in a non-fault car accident, people usually turn to their insurance company or legal expenses insurance company for help, especially if they suffer injury.
The insurance company are likely to recommend their preferred solicitor.
The biggest complaints levelled at some insurance panel solicitors firms is that they don’t:
progress claims quickly enough,
keep their clients updated,
seem to be in command of the case
Other complaints from former clients of some insurance panel solicitors suggest that they are too keen to settle cases without fighting beyond the first offer of compensation.
We hasten to add this does not apply to all insurance panel solicitors.
They choose a solicitor by searching on the internet for one
Increasingly, as their first port of call, people are turning to the internet and Google to find a suitable personal injury solicitor.
Done correctly, it may take a few hours of research. However, unless you have a cast iron recommendation from a trusted source, the internet may be the most reliable method of finding the right solicitors for you.
Check out their social media channels. Do they seem approachable, friendly, professional and knowledgeable?
Go through the biographies of their personal injury team on the firm’s website. Do they appear to have the experience you would expect of a niche PI firm?
After drawing up a shortlist of potential solicitors, call them to ask how they will handle your claim.
If you are impressed with a particular firm, you may choose to work with them.
Why do people switch personal injury solicitors?
Slow progress and lack of communication from solicitors, leading to frustration.
Feeling uninformed about the claim status due to a lack of meaningful updates.
Discovering that an inexperienced clerk is handling the case instead of an experienced lawyer.
Losing confidence in the solicitor’s ability to handle the case, especially when estimating the claim’s value.
Feeling pressured to use recommended solicitors from insurance companies, garages, or CMCs and then being unhappy with the level of service they receive.
Solicitors missing court deadlines or failing to inform clients about medical appointments.
Solicitors not fulfilling their promises.
Solicitor seems unwilling or unable to obtain an interim payment
Doubting the accuracy of legal advice, seeking second opinions.
A sense that the solicitors are pushing acceptance of the first compensation offer from the insurance company and are unwilling to fight for more.
A feeling of unhappiness with what the claim settles for.
What can you do if you are unhappy with the service from your personal injury solicitor?
Email a complaint to the senior partner or a director of the solicitor’s practice, explaining your concerns.
Request a call from the senior partner or a director to discuss the matter.
If the firm is nearby, you can also schedule an appointment to meet them in person.
If you’re satisfied with the firm’s explanation after discussing the issue, you can let them continue with your claim. But if you’re still unhappy, you can escalate the complaint to a higher authority.
According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), your solicitor or firm must respond within 8 weeks if you have a complaint.
If the firm does not resolve your complaint within 8 weeks and you are still dissatisfied, you can complain to the Legal Ombudsman. The Ombudsman can investigate and provide compensation if your complaint is justified.
You also have the right to change solicitors at any time during the course of your PI claim.
Why consider switching solicitors to Mooneerams?
Consider switching to Mooneerams Solicitors if you want a personal injury firm that will:
actively progress your case,
promptly respond to your queries,
return your calls
assign an experienced lawyer to handle your case,
fight to get you the maximum compensation
Moooneerams Solicitors, the firm, has 21 years of relevant personal injury expertise; its individual lawyers combined have well over a hundred. The firm has successfully dealt with thousands of personal injury claims and recovered millions of pounds in compensation for its clients.
If you’re dissatisfied with how your personal injury claim has been handled, contact us at Mooneerams for a confidential chat.
We provide straightforward advice, and if we can assist you, we’ll explain how we’ll transfer your file from your previous solicitors. Plus, in most cases, we’ll be able to handle your case on a No Win, No Fee basis.
Switching solicitors doesn’t have to be challenging. It’s important to remember that many very good personal injury firms are out there. We hope this article has helped you to identify them.