Injury lawyers - What you need to know before starting your claim

If you have been injured or become ill as the result of someone else’s negligence, you may have a right to claim compensation.

Personal injury lawyers help injured people every day, navigating claimants through the complex process of claiming compensation. Your personal injury lawyer will ensure you get:

  • Support throughout your claim
  • The best legal and medical advice
  • The correct compensation award or settlement

This article looks at everything you need to know about finding the right solicitor to handle your personal injury claim.

What is a personal injury lawyer?

Personal injury law is a highly-regulated profession. A personal injury lawyer, or personal injury solicitor, is a trained and qualified legal professional.

Your injury lawyer will answer your questions, provide expert legal advice and practical support. Your lawyer will negotiate on your behalf and will work hard to ensure you receive the full compensation you need to support your recovery.

Specialist personal injury lawyers

The injury claims process is complex and the best approach will vary depending on the type of claim. Many personal injury solicitors will specialise in a particular area of personal injury law, such as work accident claims (employers’ liability) or clinical negligence claims.

Catastrophic injury lawyers specialise in providing both expert legal guidance and can help you to access the long-term care and medical support you need.

If you are looking for advice on a specific type of claim, see:

What will my injury lawyer do?

During the claim process, your solicitor will:

  • Represent and advise you regarding your compensation claim.
  • Communicate with the legal representative or insurance company acting for the defendant (the person or company who caused your injury).
  • Gather evidence in support of your claim and build your case.
  • Negotiate your compensation sum.

What else do injury lawyers do?

The best personal injury solicitors will do much more than handle the legal side of your claim. Depending on the nature of the injury and on your needs, good personal injury solicitors can also help with the following:

  • A thorough and independent needs assessment.
  • Access to treatments and therapies not always available on the NHS.
  • Interim payments - Early financial assistance with treatment, support, home modifications etc.
  • Co-ordination with rehabilitation providers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and other health professionals.
  • Ensuring that your compensation is ring-fenced by a Personal Injury Trust to protect it from tax and means-testing.
  • Organising welfare benefits advice.

Do I need an injury lawyer?

Like property conveyancing, employment tribunals and other areas of the law, it is technically possible to handle the legal work for a personal injury claim yourself.

However, the claims process is frequently complex, loaded with legal jargon, and may require specialist medical evidence or expert witness statements. It can be particularly difficult to calculate how much your claim should be worth. A personal injury solicitor can draw on their training and years of practical experience to ensure:

  • You have the best chance of winning your claim.
  • You are fully compensated.

Insurance companies will usually aim to negotiate as low a settlement as possible, and they are unlikely to inform you if you have missed something you could have otherwise claimed for, such as private treatment or care costs. An experienced injury lawyer will also have had plenty of experience dealing with the big insurance companies, and will know how best to negotiate with each insurer.

An independent, specialist solicitor will ensure that your claim calculation includes everything you have the right to claim for.

Are there any situations when I don’t need to use a solicitor?

There are certain types of injury claims that can (if you wish) be pursued directly with specific organisations. These include:

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)

The CICA is a government body set up to compensate victims of violent crime. Applications to the CICA can be made directly by the claimant although some people decide to apply with the help of an injury lawyer.

Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB)

The MIB was established in 1946 to compensate injury victims of uninsured or untraceable drivers. If you have been injured in an accident with an uninsured or untraceable driver you can apply directly to the MIB for compensation. Some people prefer to do this with the assistance of a personal injury lawyer.

The MIB can also handle your road accident claim if you have been injured by a foreign driver.

Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS)

The AFCS is the official government body that handles direct applications for compensation where service people suffered an illness or injury on or after 6 April 2005.

How are injury lawyer claims payouts calculated?

Calculating a compensation claim payout for your injury is rarely straightforward. Your injury lawyer will use official guideline tables, medical evidence and their expertise to ensure you are awarded the correct amount.

Find out approximately what your claim could be worth using our compensation calculator:

Calculate compensation

What does a personal injury solicitor cost?

Unlike most other legal services, personal injury lawyers usually work on a No Win, No Fee basis.

No Win, No Fee means that if your claim is not successful, you will have no legal fees to pay whatsoever. Your solicitor will arrange for insurance to ensure you are never out of pocket and can pursue a claim with no financial risk.

Are all claims handled by No Win No Fee lawyers?

Almost always, yes. The vast majority of injury lawyers only work on a No Win, No Fee basis. Some firms will agree to take on a hard-to-win case on an hourly rate basis, but this per hour approach can become very expensive.

No win, no fee ensures you can start a claim with no upfront costs, and that your solicitor is only paid if they win your claim.

How will my solicitor get paid?

If your claim is successful then under a 'Conditional Fee Agreement', your solicitor's fees will be paid by the other side. In addition, a solicitor will typically receive a success fee of 25% which is deducted from your compensation.

By law, the legal fee, or success fee, that a No Win, No Fee solicitor receives is capped at 25% of the compensation amount, or 100% of the solicitor’s costs, whichever is the lower amount. The fee cap means that, for simpler or quicker claims, the solicitor’s success fee will often be less than 25%. Even in very complex cases, the fee cannot exceed 25% of the claimant’s compensation.

How do I choose the best injury lawyer?

Regulations prohibit solicitors from making promises about getting more compensation than other solicitors. Lawyers also cannot claim to be any 'faster' than their competition.

Given that all solicitors are restricted by what they can charge, it can be very difficult for a potential claimant to see any difference between one solicitor and another.

So how do I choose the best solicitor for me?

The personal injury process is, in essence, a negotiation. An experienced and focussed solicitor may well get a better result for a client than an inexperienced or overworked solicitor.

There are some key points plus a few tricks to find the best injury lawyer for your claim:

Check Details
The solicitor has the right accreditations See details below
The Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) small print You must check the small print before signing anything. You could ask for a specimen CFA right from the outset and ask the solicitor to go through it with you.
The solicitor’s specialisation Look for a solicitor with a proven track record in your specific type of claim. If you are working with a CMC, ask them why they have recommended a specific solicitor.
The solicitor’s track record Ask your solicitor if they have handled any claims like yours before, and what the outcome was. You could even ask for them to send you a case study.
Do you like the solicitor?

The claims process can take several months during which you will collaborate with your chosen solicitor. It is important that you feel comfortable and are able to communicate well with the solicitor.

If you haven’t yet spoken to the individual who will handle your claim, what was the attitude of the people you have dealt with at the firm? Were they helpful, friendly and professional? The attitude of the initial claim vetters is usually an indication of the culture of the firm as a whole.

The solicitor’s reviews Checking online reviews is a quick and easy way to confirm that your prospective solicitor offers the sort of service you are looking for. Look out for comments about communication and proactivity in particular.

Read more:

How to find the right solicitor for your claim

Do I need to use a local injury lawyer near me?

No. You will not need to visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.

Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.

Read more:

Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

Should I use a claims management company?

Although all claims management companies (CMCs) are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), not all CMCs actually process injury claims on behalf of claimants.

CMCs will often work with specialist personal injury law firms to ensure injured claimants who contact the CMC for advice receive legal advice from an experienced injury lawyer.

Should I use the insurance company’s recommended solicitor?

Whoever acts for you should represent your best interests. If you are fully confident that an insurance company’s recommended panel solicitor will do this, that is fine.

However, insurance companies often have a financial relationship with the solicitors on their panel. Instructing an independent lawyer to handle your claim will ensure the advice you receive is truly independent and not compromised by any commercial considerations.

Read more:

Do I have to use the insurance company's solicitor

Personal injury lawyer accreditations

There are several organisations and professional awards that can help you find out if a solicitor has specialist personal injury experience:

The Law Society

The Law Society is an independent professional body that represents all solicitors, including personal injury lawyers, in England and Wales. The Society represents and governs solicitors, and also provides training and support.

The Law Society also awards accreditations to solicitors and law firms in recognition of special expertise.

Law Society Personal Injury Accreditation

This award covers all areas of personal injury work, including claims for work accidents, road accidents and accidents in public places.

Accredited solicitors must show that they have a high level of skills, legal knowledge and experience handling personal injury claims.

Law Society Clinical Negligence Accreditation

This accreditation is awarded to solicitors who have demonstrated that they can meet the high standards of competence and expertise set by the Law Society in the areas of medical and dental negligence.

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

The Solicitors Regulation Authority, or SRA, is the body that regulates solicitors in England and Wales. Unlike the Law Society, the SRA has the power to impose sanctions on solicitors and law firms who breach its regulations.

All solicitors in England and Wales must adhere to the SRA’s regulations, which includes restrictions on how solicitors receive work and handle client money. The SRA ensures that lawyers act in the best interests of their clients, remain independent and that they maintain client confidentiality.

Solicitors in Scotland are regulated by the Law Society of Scotland.

Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL)

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), is the largest association of personal injury specialists in the UK. APIL membership is a sign that a personal injury solicitor is an active member of the profession, and supports APIL’s work to campaign for reform in personal injury law.

APIL also awards accreditation to senior personal injury lawyers, and all members must adhere to the APIL code of conduct and consumer charter.

Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS)

The Motor Accident Solicitors Society is a specialist organisation of road accident claims solicitors and other experts.

MASS represents the interests of road accident victims and seeks to continually improve the skills, and expertise of its members and to lobby for improvements in the law to better protect the rights of injured people.

Law Society of Scotland

The Law Society of Scotland is the professional body that represents and governs solicitors in Scotland. Unlike the Law Society of England and Wales, the Law Society of Scotland also regulates and enforces sanctions against solicitors and law firms that breach its rules.

When is the best time to start my claim with an injury lawyer?

In most cases, you have up to 3 years after the date of injury to start a claim. The sooner you start a claim, however, the easier it will be for your solicitor to collate evidence and build a case.

It is therefore recommended that you start a claim with a injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident, or as soon as you learn of your injury or illness.

How do personal injury lawyers decide whether to accept a claim?

Personal injury solicitors are obliged to act in the best interests of injured clients. Solicitors must also provide accurate information to potential claimants regarding their options for compensation.

If a lawyer believes that your case has poor prospects of success, they must tell you so, and they must give you an explanation as to why they won’t take on your case.

However, in some cases, it is not possible for a solicitor to guarantee the outcome, particularly if liability is disputed or the extent of your injuries is not known. Different solicitors, with different levels of expertise or experience, may assess a claim differently.

It may also be the case that an injury lawyer states they cannot act for you because they don’t have the capacity to take on extra work, because they lack expertise in your type of compensation claim, or because they foresee that the case will be expensive to run, and may take a long time to reach a conclusion. Some smaller firms are unable to bankroll complex cases, particularly those involving clinical negligence and serious injury.

If your claim has not been accepted, you should always seek a second opinion.

Read more:

I have a strong claim, why won't a solicitor take it on?

Do personal injury solicitors go to court?

Approximately only 5% of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

If the two sides cannot agree on a final compensation settlement amount, the case would go to court. Although some solicitors can represent their clients in court, most will arrange for the case to be argued by a barrister.

Read more:

How often do injury claims go to court and what if they do?

No win, no fee

With a no win, no fee agreement (known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA') you can make an injury claim without having to pay upfront legal fees. If your injury claim is unsuccessful you won't have to pay any money to your solicitor.

Our no win, no fee promise

Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is no financial risk in making an injury claim, even if you don't win your claim.

What do I pay if I win my injury claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your compensation is awarded. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my injury claim?

If your injury claim is not successful then you will not have to pay any legal fees. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 376 1001 or arrange a callback:

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