Can I change my personal injury solicitor part way through my claim?
At Mooneerams solicitors, we quite often get asked if we would be able to take over personal injury cases on behalf of people who feel that they are not getting a good service from their existing solicitor. They want to change personal injury solicitor. It occurs to us that this is a question that might well be one that other dissatisfied non-fault accident personal injury victims might want the answer to, as well? If so, we hope that this blog might provide a few answers.
For many people, the first time that they ever need to use the services of a solicitor, is when they are unfortunate enough to have been injured in a road traffic accident and want to make a claim for personal injury compensation. Or perhaps they have had an accident at work in which they suffer injury and need to use a solicitor to make an accident at work claim.
Alternatively, it might be as a result of breaking an arm or wrist due to tripping on one of the endlessly defective pavements blighting our towns, that results in them calling a solicitor for the first time, in order to enquire about making a public liability claim against the local council.
If you are nodding your heads in agreement (that this was the first time that you had need of a solicitor), we’d love to know how it was that you came to choose the particular solicitor that you did? Or did someone else choose the solicitor for you?
How do people choose their Personal Injury Solicitor?
When people suffer a personal injury in one of the ways mentioned above, quite often they don’t know which way to turn. Some of the more common ways that people end up with the solicitor that they do, are:
They use the same solicitor that has previously done some legal work for them
Conveyancing, will writing, a divorce or perhaps one that has helped them with a problem in their business; using someone who has previously done good work for you, seems a pretty good idea. However, unless they are specialist personal injury solicitors then it can be a risk. Doing conveyancing legal work for example is totally different to doing personal injury compensation legal work. Things can go badly wrong, if you entrust your personal injury claim to someone who is not an expert in that type of legal work.
A friend recommends a solicitor
The same potential problem applies. If they did a personal injury claim well for your friend, all well and good. After all a friend is only likely to recommend someone who did a good job for them in the first place. However, what if the friend is recommending to you, a lawyer that did work for them on a house sale? By following their recommendation in relation to the same lawyer doing a personal injury claim, you are taking a leap of faith. How good are they at doing accident compensation claims?
They go through a Claims Management Company (CMC)
These are not solicitors’ practices. Most CMCs are run by non-legally qualified people. They make a living from passing personal injury claims onto solicitors, in return for a fee, called a recommendation fee. CMCs advertise for claims. Sometimes they buy data leads from various sources. that can be why you end up getting those annoying telephone calls from Claims Companies.
When you put a claim through one of these outfits, your details are likely to be passed on to a ‘panel solicitor member.’ These are solicitors who have agreed to pay the CMC a large fee for every new claim they pass over. Are these ‘panel member solicitors’ really experts, or do they just get the work from the CMC because they pay a large fee? In any event, do you really want your accident injury claim to be something that is sold to a solicitor for a fee?
They use solicitors recommended by the garage that carried out the accident repairs to their vehicle
If their claim is for compensation following a car accident, they may have been recommended to use the services of a particular firm of solicitors by the garage that carried out the repair to their vehicle. Much the same applies here as the previous scenario with the CMC. The garage may well have their own preferred solicitor.
The reason the solicitor is ‘preferred’ is because he will pay the garage a fee for each car accident injury compensation claim that they recommend. Is the potential accident claimant being recommended to use the garage’s solicitor, because they are good at personal injury claims, or because they pay the garage a large fee?
The use the solicitors ‘recommended’ by their insurance company
When someone has been involved in a non-fault car accident, their first port of call is likely to be their insurance company or their legal expenses insurance company (which may be an ‘add on’ to a car insurance policy). If they suffered injury, then their insurance company is likely to recommend its’ own preferred. In fact, the insurance company may exert a considerable amount of pressure to use their choice of solicitor.
If you find yourself in this position, then you need to be satisfied that the law firm that your insurance company recommends, will ensure that your claim is dealt with by an experienced accident compensation lawyer and not by an inexperienced clerk, as is often be the case. You might also wish to enquire whether your claim has been sold by the insurance company for a ‘recommendation fee’ to their recommended lawyer.
Some insurance companies sell claims too, believe it or not. Always remember, that whatever your insurance company or legal expenses insurance company tell you, it is your right to choose whichever solicitor you want to act for you.
They choose one they find by searching on the internet
Finally, you might find the right solicitor by searching the internet for one. Done properly, this method of finding a personal injury solicitor can be successful. It will take you time to do properly, maybe some hours of research. After that you may wish to call one or more of the solicitors’ firms that you have found and ask then some questions about how they are going to deal with your claim. If one particular firm impresses you, then you may decide to entrust them with your claim.
These are some of the ways that you might end up using a particular firm to deal with your personal injury claim. If things go well, for you, then undoubtedly you will see the claim through to conclusion with that firm. You will receive your compensation and be delighted to recommend that firm to any of your friends. That is great news. Many of the clients that we have at Mooneerams have come to us by being recommended by their friends.
What if things don’t go smoothly with your chosen solicitor?
This is when a personal injury claim can become a nightmare and very stressful for the client. This is also when your thoughts may turn to changing your personal injury solicitor.
These are the some of the reasons that people switch personal injury solicitors;
- Your claim starts to drag on. When you phone up the solicitors or email them for progress reports you either get no response or you are given the standard reply of, ‘we are waiting to hear from the other side.’
- Due to a lack of any meaningful communication you constantly feel that you are being kept in the dark as to where your claim is up to.
- You find out that the person that is handling your case is an inexperienced clerk not an experienced lawyer. This is frequently a complaint particularly levelled at those firms of solicitors recommended by insurance companies or legal expense companies.
- You start to feel a lack of confidence in the person that is handling your case. You might get the feeling that they are out of their depth in dealing with your personal injury matter. This is often most common when they get to the point of advising you how much your claim is likely to be worth.
- You felt under pressure to use the solicitors that the insurance company, garage, CMC etc recommended and you start to feel that you are not getting the service that you feel you should be from them.
- Your solicitors have missed court deadlines or something else has gone wrong such as forgetting to tell you about appointments to go and see medical experts.
- The solicitors do not do what they have said that they are going to do.
- You feel that the legal advice that you are getting is incorrect. You feel that you need to get a second opinion on everything that you are told.
- The solicitor or clerk is trying to get you to accept the first offer of compensation put forward by the other party. You get the feeling that they just want to get the claim settled as quickly as possible. You don’t feel that they are willing to fight the claim to get more compensation.
- After your claim has settled you feel that the settlement figure was too low, despite the fact that you acted on the solicitor’s advice.
If you have experienced one or more of these problems, what should you do?
- Send an email of complaint to the senior partner or a director of the solicitor’s practice, detailing your concerns.
- Ask that the senior partner or a director calls you so that you can discuss the matter with them. If the firm are within your locality, you may wish to make an appointment to go and discuss with the senior partner or a director of the firm at their offices.
- If, after having a discussion with the firm, you are satisfied with their explanation for the problems that you have suffered, you might decide to allow them to continue with your claim. However, if you are still dissatisfied, then you can take the complaint to a higher authority.
- In accordance with the rules of the solicitors governing body, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) the solicitor/firm is obliged to give you a response to your complaint within 8 weeks. After that time, if you are still dissatisfied, you can make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman if your complaint is about the service that you have received. The Ombudsman will investigate your complaint and if he finds your complaint to be justified, he can make various orders, including providing you with compensation.
- The alternative to all (or some of the above) is that you decide that you have had enough and want to change solicitors to get the matter brought to a successful conclusion. You have the right to do so.
Having had a bad experience once, to whom should you turn?
We hope that you have found that the information we have provided is useful, if you have been having a difficult experience with your current personal injury solicitor.
If you believe that the time is right for you to switch solicitors to a personal injury firm that will;
- Actively progress your case
- Answer your communications promptly and with full responses to your queries
- Take or at least return your calls promptly
- Assign an experienced lawyer handle to your case.
- Fight to ensure that you get the maximum compensation that your claim deserves;
…you might like to consider switching to Mooneerams solicitors. You will find our friendly knowledgeable staff a pleasure to work with.
Mooneerams personal injury compensation solicitors of Cardiff will work for You
We are expert personal injury solicitors and have dealt with thousands of personal injury claims in the 16 years since we first opened our offices.
We don’t pay recommendation fees for work, nor are we on insurance company panels.
- The bulk of our work comes by word of mouth with satisfied clients passing on our details to their friends.
- We also have informal agreements with other trusted solicitors’ firms, with whom we cross refer work. For instance, if we receive an enquiry from a prospective client who wants to make a claim for asbestos disease compensation or clinical negligence compensation, we recommend them to our trusted partners, experts in those fields of law, who will provide the same level of care and attention in dealing with those claims, as we provide in our areas of expertise. Likewise, from those trusted partners, we receive recommendations to act on behalf of clients who wish to make road traffic accident injury compensation claims, slip, trip or fall injury claims or accident at work injury claims.
- You don’t need to take our word for it alone though. The recommendations that we have received from clients on sites like solicitor.info and our Facebook page, speak louder about us than we should about ourselves.
- Are you unhappy with the way that your personal injury claim is currently being dealt with and are considering a change of solicitor? Then call us here at Mooneerams, for a confidential, no obligation chat, and we’ll give you no nonsense, plain-English advice.
If we believe that we can help you, we will explain the process of how we will transfer the file over from your current solicitors so that we can get on and deal with your case and get it settled to your satisfaction. We will run your claim on a No Win, No Fee basis. Contact us on 029 2048 3615 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are unhappy with your personal injury solicitor and feel that it’s time to change, call us now. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
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Director / Solicitor
Alistair was one of the founding partners of Mooneerams solicitors in 2002. He has specialised in personal injury law since qualifying in 1997.