You’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you don’t know what to do. Life has thrown a spanner in the works. Life can be cruel, so cruel.
What do you do now?
Do you go to Google to find an injury lawyer? Or, do you use an unnecessary Claims Management Company, acting as a middleman? Instead, do you use one of those firms that advertise during daytime TV (you know the type) with C-list celebrity endorsements? Or, better, do you go with a personal recommendation?
Hopefully, whoever you choose to be represented by, you select a qualified and experienced personal injury solicitor, rather than a paralegal in a call centre. I ask: if both an experienced personal injury solicitor and an unqualified paralegal offer you a No Win, No Fee agreement, why would you opt for the unqualified option?
So, once you have selected a brilliant solicitor to represent you, what is expected of you and how do you work with your solicitor to achieve the best possible outcome?
Now this could be the first time in your life that you have needed to engage a solicitor. I can tell you that it’s essential that you develop a great relationship with your solicitor and that there is a proper exchange of information between you. Your solicitor needs to understand you and you need to understand what your solicitor wants.
Over the years, I have represented several thousand injured people and these are my top tips as to how to work effectively with your solicitor.
Top 5 Tips on how to work with your personal injury lawyer:
1. No one has all the answers
Remember that personal injury law is a massive, complex and ever-changing area of law and therefore any knowledge that you may have regarding this area of law is unlikely to be accurate. I can tell you that between our team of five personal solicitors we have studied for countless years and represented thousands of injured people over a combined period of one hundred years and yet we still do not have all the answers! Often, my team have to discuss a particular case for hours, thrashing it out and then performing legal research, before coming to a conclusion. No personal injury solicitor will expect you to know anything about this niche area of law and you shouldn’t feel stupid for not knowing. We couldn’t do your job! You could, if you have time, read around the subject (and we prefer clients who engage in the process), but there is no obligation to do so.
2. Ask Questions To Understand The Basics
Following 1, it’s absolutely essential that you understand the basics of a personal injury claim – what is general damages? What is a Schedule of Loss? What is liability? How long will the claim take? Will your case “go to court”? Therefore, ask your solicitor dozens of questions, either on the phone or in emails, until you understand what is going on. Remember, that you are on a No Win, No Fee agreement (unless you have Legal Expenses Insurance) which means that your questions shouldn’t really impact upon you financially. Remember: your personal injury lawyer is lucky to have you as a client and he or she should therefore be pleased to answer any questions which you might have about your claim. If you don’t understand a concept or a term, ask. If your solicitor disregards your questions, switch solicitors to a firm like us who will take the time to answer your questions.
3. Get To Know Each Other
Get to know your personal injury solicitor but, more importantly, let your personal injury solicitor get to know you. The better that a solicitor understands their client – where they live, what motivates them, who is in their family, what work they do, where they holiday, what hobbies they have, etc – the better that your solicitor will be able to represent you and the more compensation they will be able to obtain for you (if you win!). What must be avoided is an under-settlement of a claim, and this is more likely to happen if a solicitor doesn’t know their client well. Therefore, ensure that your solicitor knows you: you’re not being a pain. Essentially, thanks to your decision to choose them, your claim is paying their bill.
4. Keep All The Paperwork
Collate absolutely everything that is relevant to you claim, keeping it safe. None of my team of solicitors would laugh at you for handing over documents which prove useless to your claim. We personal injury solicitors love – really, we love – paperwork! We want organised clients who save all the documents and present them to us. If we have all the details of your losses, then we can provide a fuller Schedule of Loss, which should hopefully maximise the value of your claim. Please don’t put off gathering information on your losses. Record everything in writing or on your phone or just email it to your solicitor. Really, they’ll thank you for it. If in doubt, collate it and send it to your solicitor.
5. Be Truthful
Tell your solicitor the truth! As you would expect from a firm called “Truth Legal” you must ensure that you tell your solicitor everything – and, importantly, don’t not tell us something important i.e. don’t leave out a crucial detail. Going through a personal injury claim is quite intense – your life comes under a great deal of scrutiny. Therefore, if you mislead or hide something, then your solicitor will probably discover it, or, worse, the other side will discover it. Remember, that throughout your claim you are engaging in a legal matter and that you should be 100% truthful. You don’t want to be dropped by your solicitors and then sent a bill, and you certainly don’t want to be found to have acted with Fundamental Dishonesty, or, that you have misled the Court as you may be held on Contempt of Court finding yourself imprisoned. Just tell the truth. Easy.
I hope that you have found these tips to be useful as to how you should work with your Personal Injury Solicitor. If you do not have this special relationship with your Personal Injury Solicitor, then contact one of my dedicated solicitors in Harrogate, York, Manchester or London to discuss the relatively simple process of changing solicitor.